Puppy Whisperer

Dogs have always been a beloved part of my family ever since I could remember. There was a time I felt I should’ve been THE original dog whisperer, not Cesar Milan. Through the years, I have somehow become an expert on dog behaviour.

I know why a dog would react in a certain way. I know that whenever they “bow” in front of humans, stretching their front paws and lowering their head, they are actually greeting you with respect. I know that when a dog approaches me in a certain way, it wants to be cuddled and stroked. I know when they’re happy or jealous or irritated or hungry or just plain thirsty.

With puppies, however, you have to deal with their preconceived notions. Yes, some puppies have those embedded weird ideas about humans.

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I love cuddling a puppy in my arms like a baby, massaging and caressing their stomachs, which most puppies love. Stretched out in my arms, some puppies just learn to relax and abandon all cares, enjoying the sweet moment and loving every second of it.

There are some puppies, however, who behave like scared cats the moment you lift them from the ground. You try to get them to relax in your arms, mumbling dog endearments, rubbing their stomachs, but to no avail. They would squirm, cry out, struggle, and fight to be free from your grasp, even attempt to jump to the ground. For some reason, they just couldn’t trust you.

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Yet, they come to you for food. They know they need you whenever they’re hungry. To them, you are important because you feed them. But that’s as far as they would allow you to get near them.

They see you as a food source. A food source and nothing else.

The trusting puppies, however, would much rather stay in the comfort of your arms forever. When you lay them down, they would beg for more. They are thankful for the food you give them, but they would much rather spend a few more minutes with you in your arms. They light up whenever they see you, and sometimes you could literally see the love in their eyes.

Some humans are like puppies… in the way they approach God.

The scared puppy humans want to keep some sort of religion in their lives, going to church every Sunday, yet keeping God at a distance far enough for Him not to “see” inside the core of their being. Doing religious duties, yet denying the inner voice by which He calls them. Maintaining a form of godliness, yet keeping God at a “safe” distance, far enough not to be able to interfere with their actions, or thoughts, or habits, or prejudices, or decisions, or opinions.

Seeing God as a food source.

As a last resort for emergencies. As a fountain of favor and blessings and protection for their loved ones. The cloak of religion as a security blanket. As a ticket to heaven.

The scared puppy humans struggle and fight hard and wiggle their way out of God’s hands to avoid the things they fear the most—being branded as a religious fanatic, being thought of as “weird”, being counted among hypocrites, worrying about their reputation, trying to maintain a cool image among people they admire, and lots of other things.

They never realize that God longs to hold them in His arms, like a mother hen gathers its chicks under its wings:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing”. – Jesus (Matthew 23:37)

More often than not, religious puppies, I mean humans, want to be able to keep their pet sins. They see God as a “killjoy” who is bent on keeping them from being happy.

We used to keep our puppies in a dog house with wide cage bars, and to keep the puppies from slipping out, we placed steel fence material over the walls (we won’t ever do this again!). There was one puppy (the scared puppy type) who got his head stuck in one of the small metal openings, and he was crying his lungs out. His body literally trembling and his eyes filled with terror, he never for a moment closed his mouth, keeping it wide open and letting out this loud, piercing, desperately terrified cry for help. He never responded to his mother’s reassuring kisses, or to my soothing caresses on his head. He just went on and on and on crying and wailing louder by the minute.

But all he had to do was close his mouth, relax, and he would be free.

After several hours, of course, he finally got really tired enough to close his mouth and never realized it was his wailing that kept him from freedom.

So this is how scared puppy humans tend to hang on to their “pet sins”. They would not, could not ever give them up, never knowing it’s keeping them from freedom.

At the point where they become too tired to keep up and fight on their own, just like that puppy, that’s when they realize they needed God – and not just as a food source. At the end of their rope, that’s when the scared puppies get to discover the secret that only trusting “puppies” knew.

That being in His Presence, wrapped in His arms, is the single most wonderful, most meaningful, life-changing, awesome moment worth pursuing everyday.

 

“O taste and see that the Lord is good…” – Psalm 34:8a

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