puppy faith, puppy tricks

My oldest son had been nagging me to get him a dog. This past January, he used his upcoming birthday as leverage to pour on the pressure. I love animals, and we had two dogs and a cat in his earlier years. So it wasn’t a hard sell, but due to some family challenges, I didn’t think it was the right time.

After relentless mentioning, begging, pleading, and guilting leading up to his birthday, I had a parenting “deer in the headlights” moment, and realized he was turning 13, meaning there were precious few years left before he would be out of the house. So, I told him it was time, and we prayed about God providing just the right dog. He and his younger brother wanted a beagle, a male beagle, so it made God’s task a little tougher, since we were going the rescue route. I’ll save the God story details (it really was a GREAT one), and we were able to pick up the perfect 6 month old beagle puppy mix (picture above- couldn’t resist), housebroken, neutered and micro chipped on half price Wednesday at the Atlanta Humane Society, ON the afternoon of my son’s birthday. Go God!

Life has been very different since (as all you pet lovers know). Both sons have been constantly doting on the puppy, loving, playing, hugging on him, making things for him, basically spoiling him rotten. I must say they have done a fantastic job of teaching him tricks too. The puppy’s name is Griffin, and he’s learned a basic set of tricks pretty quickly. First, “sit.” Then, “lie down”, “roll over”. The training went very smoothly with the presence of some treats in the hands of the boys. Griffin, never taking his eyes off the treat, started doing his series of tricks without being commanded, once he saw one of us holding the treat for him, so we had to teach him to respond to our command in order to receive the treat.

I’m most impressed by the boys’ teaching him how to “stay”. They say “stay”, walk to the far end of the hallway, and around the corner into one of their bedrooms, and then call “come”. Once Griffin hears the call, he runs to get his treat, and a showering of praise. Okay, transparency time. We’re still trying to teach him to do these tricks without bribing him with treats. Maybe we’ll get there.

God showed me a lesson while watching Griffin patiently and obediently “stay” while one of the boys walked farther and farther away from him with his prized treat. Griffin never doubted that he would get his treat, and never doubted he would be praised for his obedience, regardless. So, he rested in faith about what he had learned about our love for him.

We can rest (“stay”) in faith about what God tells us about His love for us in the scriptures, and what we’ve learned, regardless of what may seem to be a diminishing chance that we’ll get our treat. God’s love is unfailing. Even when we wonder what’s going down. Unwavering. Even in our storm. Unshakable. Even when we are shaking in our boots.

Sometimes God says to us, “Sit. Stay.” He will be faithful. He will not leave us, even though we may think He has wandered off and disappeared. I’ll try to be more like our dog next time I sense God speaking these commands to me through my circumstances.

For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Psalm 57:10 (NLT)

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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