Friday, April 26, 2013

Dog Faith - Come When Called

Come When Called

As I train our pup, I'm trying to teach her that when I call, she should drop everything and run to me. To do that, I need to consistently reinforce that when I say "Orchid Come", she knows that regardless of what she's engaged in, I've got something better for her. When it happens, I think both of us are filled with joy because the more she comes when called, the tighter our bond becomes.

The problem is that while sometimes I've got a tasty treat that's better than the stick she's chewing or the ground she's sniffing, sometimes she'll be disappointed when she arrives. For example, if she's hot on the trail of a rodent, and she comes, when she arrives she may not think my treat was worth losing the rodent scent.

Harder is when she's eating rabbit (or dog) poo that could make her sick, she may respond and be disappointed in her choice. Worse, she may think at the time that the poo is better than what I have to offer, and may not respond. Even if she gets sick later on, she won't make the connection that it was the poo…that she made a bad choice…she's just not wired that way to realize her decision to not come caused her all that pain. 

Even harder, there will be times I won't even have a treat because my "Come" command is reacting to the car barreling down the street, and I'm protecting her from getting hit. Her running to me in that case is far better for her, but to her all she got was a scratch on the head with no treat at all!

What I'm learning is that sometimes pup will never know that what I have for her is better…that she'll be disappointed when she comes because from her perspective I've pulled her away from perceived fun...

…she'll never know what I have is better

…she'll never know that I want her life to be filled with abundance

…she'll never know that sometimes I will have literally saved her life

…she'll never know the bigger picture I can see…that what's best for her sometimes looks like a raw deal…sometimes looks like disappointment.


I wonder...

I wonder if this is anything close to how God and I interact? I wonder if He yearns for me to come to Him because He knows that whatever I'm engaged in, He's got something better for me?

I wonder if when I'm doing something I decide without regard to his will He calls for me because His way is better?

I wonder if when I'm doing something vile to Him that will make me sick, He says "Greg, Come" hoping I'll disengage from my sin long enough to listen, drop everything and run his way?

I wonder if when I do listen and "Come when called", and am disappointed in the loss of the perceived fun I was about to engage in, He simply hugs me and smiles knowing He saved me from great pain?


I wonder if God put dogs on this Earth to give yet another glimpse into how much He loves and actively cares for me?

Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm a Dog Person (Dammit)

From the time I was 3 and was toppled by my Grandpa's excited farm dog, I have not liked dogs. I did have a brief moment of insanity when I was 12 when I pontificated about the perfect dog…big enough to wrestle, but not too big…something like a collie but not the Lassie kind. Luckily, by the time I was 16 I came back to my senses that I just don't like dogs…or kids (they're really the same, aren't they?).

For  the next 27 years I happily stood by that statement. Don't like dogs and don't like kids. Sure I had my own kids along the way and to my surprise I actually do love them. But, I figured it was because they were my responsibility...or because they are like a parasitic organism; once they attach themselves to the host, the host becomes delusional and wants to make the parasites happy and comfortable. My evidence? Because every other kid (and dog) I ever saw annoyed me.

Then one day it happened.

I was betrayed.

First by my oldest son. He talked for nearly a year about how much he wanted a dog…how much the dog would make him happy, give him a constant companion, and other elements from his "How to emotionally blackmail your parents in 3 easy steps".

Second, and most surprising, … I was betrayed by my own self. I actually said out loud, "I could see getting a dog" (dammit). Why? WHY did that come out? Further, why didn't it bother me!?! 

Third, by my wife. Even if I was being mentally hijacked by my son, at least my wife, who I installed as a failover backup parental system, would cover my lapse in verbal filtering and we'd still be safe.

"Well, here are the parameters you should look for on", she said.


Ah well, I thought. Most of our kids were surprises, so why not a dog? I think we hoped this new animal would help our oldest with responsibility, companionship, and all the other therapeutic aspects a dog is supposed to have on a teenager.

On January 12, 2013, on my son's 16th birthday, Orchid arrived.

And then something absurd happened.

No, not absurd, but troubling, vile, evil

I started enjoying the pup.

A lot. (Dammit)

I found that training her to be a better pup made me smile and laugh harder than I have in a very long time.

I found deep joy when she crossed her paw across my foot while we watched TV.

I started being OK with holding her, letting her lick my hand, my arm, even my face!

I praised her when she went poo…IN MY YARD!!!

I looked forward to games of fetch where I could whip a ball as far as I could and she'd race after it...prancing back like she was "Queen of the Ball" (yes...I know...nice wordplay) and drop it in front of me (in exchange for a treat).

I thought nothing of holding liver treats...WET liver treats...from her slobber in one hand, clicker in the other, while training her.

Now, we have a near-daily regimen that involves: sit, stay (with distance and duration), wait, OK (her release command), lay down, come, shake, high five, high ten, drop it, leave it, walk (loose leash, off leash), go get it, return, put away, get your , jump (over me), roll over, and play dead.

Does she have them all in every circumstance? 

Not at all..and that's the fun part: We're both on a journey to see how far and deep this relationship can go, and training seems to be very enjoyable for both of us. I'm learning about other areas of my life as well because of this creature, and I'm sure I'll mention those over time.


Am I a dog person now? to be honest, I don't know…I might be (dammit).

But, I can tell you one thing:

I am definitely an Orchid person.

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