Dear Family & Friends,
Our family dog, Millie, began obedience school this last month. What was once a cute and cuddly puppy has now turned into an 80+ pound beast of a dog. “What were we thinking”, you ask? We ask ourselves the same thing most days…
We love our sweet Millie, but she still has a lot of making up to do for the countless shoes destroyed, toys demolished, baseboards chewed up, and many other items around the house that have made their way into her path of destruction.
She has a way to tug at your heart, but nonetheless, is a big fur ball of chaos at times. After months of jumping on people, barking at strangers, running from us when we try to put her in her kennel, we figured it was time to finally “get some help.”
Our dog trainer has been great. Although we feel like failure as dog “parents”, our trainer has been sweet, kind, and understanding in our attempts to control the four-legged monster. Day one was tough. We literally had to carry her into the door after her constant refusals to move from the outdoor sidewalk. I could just hear her talking to me through the looks she gave me… “Please don’t make me go in there, dad!”
Once finally inside, the trainer put a type of dog halter that went over her mouth and nose to better control her and keep her from “pulling.” Millie didn’t want any part of that. She began to pull even harder and did everything she could to get the “muzzle” off of her. Despite her attempts, the halter remained on throughout the training.
As you know, obedience school for dogs is more about the human than it is the dog. As we went throughout the session, the trainer would provide us with commands, prompts and even physical stances that we could use to try to encourage Millie’s obedience.
Despite my commands, however, Millie could not focus on anything except getting the halter off of her nose and mouth. She would toss and turn, pull and paw, sometimes even roll around on the ground. And despite my commands, she was defiant in my attempts to guide her. I realized the halter was uncomfortable, but also knew if she would simply do what I asked her to do, it would take some of the discomfort away. I also knew if she would follow my leading, it would be so much easier on her.
I knew what was best for her at the time, but all she could focus on was the discomfort. So many emotions flooded my mind during those moments. Anger from her not listening to me, embarrassment because others were watching her shenanigans, sympathy for Millie because I could imagine how much discomfort she must have been in. But despite my attempts, she continued with the struggle.
Then, the trainer walked up to me. In a calm voice she told me to take a deep breath, then asked me to tell Millie “Enough!”. “Enough!” I said to Mille. But she had no change in behavior.
The trainer smiled at me and said “now, use your ‘dad’ voice.”
“ENOUGH!” I sternly told Mille in a stronger tone. Suddenly, she perked up, we locked eyes and she cocked her head to the side in shock that her gentle father would talk to her in such a way.
I finally had Millie’s attention. She finally knew I was the one in control. And while we still had a few more struggles which required me to use my “dad voice” some more, she was finally learning to listen.
As we got home that night and Millie and I both retired to our respective rooms, I reflected on our class that evening. It dawned on me how much I can be like Mille…poor Millie.
How often God is trying to guide and direct my steps, but often times, I resist his leading. How He knows what is best for me, if I would simply stop and listen to His voice. How I am so focused on “comfort” that I too often fail to realize that it’s ok to be uncomfortable sometimes. And sometimes it takes him saying “Enough!” to lovingly get my attention.
There’s a reason humans are often compared to animals throughout scripture. How similar I can be to Millie. But how thankful I am to have a Father who loves me, who guides me, and who never gives up on me.
Oh, and by the way…that same Father also loves you. Listen to His voice today. And remember, He is proud of you…because He is.
Hang in there, friend. You can do hard things.
Until next time,