Old Dogs. New Tricks.



They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but my dog has been teaching me some important lessons.

In the range of personality types I used to measure as a “Type-A”. High-strung, high-energy, lots of plans and stress and activity. I calmed down a lot but still have some tendencies. Maybe I am a Type-A-minus now.

When it comes to the Christian walk, I struggle with being still and quiet, resting, surrender, obedience to the subtler boundaries, expressing gratitude, and having joy and peace in the midst of chaos. And negativism. I have an innate knack for seeing the negative and missing the positive. I’m the guy that can walk into a museum of beautiful art and find the one picture frame that’s slightly tilted. I hate that about myself.

My dog, on the other hand, never sees anything out of order. He is quite content with whatever, wherever, whenever and whomever. He only barks when people arrive or leave. And only then out of excitement. It appears that he is expressing joy at the sight of my his friends arriving, and anxiety when they depart.

It is the only dog I’ve had who inherently honors boundaries. Without being trained. If I leave the front door open and walk to the sidewalk, he stands at the threshold of the door, waiting. If I leave the fence gate open, he won’t go through it unless I call him.

When I pull out a 5-pound bag of treats, he waits patiently for me to hand one over. He seems content to take what is given, and doesn’t whine about getting more. These occasions are usually followed by him assuming a rather indiscreet “downward dog” position and repeatedly rubbing his face on the nearest rug. When it comes to gratitude, he’s a bit of a show-off.

He LOVES car rides and walks. When we are preparing to go on a journey, he spins around in circles and jumps up and down. And he doesn’t even know where we are going.

My dog follows me everywhere. Wherever I am, he wants to be there. Even if I’m busy, and completely ignoring him.

He becomes alarmed by unknown noises or situations but looks at me, waiting for me to tell him “It’s OK.” Once I do, he resumes his normal peaceful state. I haven’t had an occasion to see what he will do when “IT’S NOT OK!” Maybe we’ll both start barking and running.

And he makes no pretense whatsoever. He is completely shameless about burping, shedding hair, and hogging the bed.

Best of all, my dog knows how to rest in my presence. He has nearly transformed “rest” into an art form. Photographic evidence included in this posting.

I’m not saying Christians are dogs. But when it comes to expressing gratitude, resting in the presence of the Master, uncontained joy, peacefulness, excitement about a journey to only-God-knows-where, being obedient, and – above all – desiring to please one’s Master… I am learning from a pro.

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