Tuesday, September 2, 2008

WALKING BUDDIES: Part 10 - Canine Companions - August 31, 2008

“Ask where the good way is, and walk in it.”
Jeremiah 6:16

I’m a dog lover, to the very marrow of my bones. I can’t imagine life without my four-footed walking buddies. Together, we’ve traipsed through fields, tromped through the woods, meandered along streams, and wandered up and down lakeshores. I bubble over with joy as I watch my buddies explore new territory with wild abandon.

Let me tell you about my walking buddies and what I’ve learned from each of them about walking with God:

· Muffin, a fluffy, blonde Cock-a-poo-Pom-pet-store-pooch: Once while Muffy was secured on a chain in the yard, a little girl stopped by and asked, “Does that puppy belong to anyone?” Yes, she was that cute! Muffin camped, hiked and boated with us all over Indiana and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula She especially loved to romp in the snow. Like Muffin, I love to cavort and play with God.

· Midnight, a silky, cocker spaniel/Scotty: a freebie from a frazzled friend, who—after several sleepless nights—decided she was not up to raising a puppy. Midnight was a complexity of sweetness and stubbornness. A poor excuse for a walking companion, Midnight walked whenever and wherever she pleased (usually on the lam). At times, I’m as stubborn as Midnight is black. I run off, returning to God only when I’m good n’ ready.

· Trixie, a shy, dainty, red head with white tipped paws and chest—A Humane Society Heinz 57: After we adopted Trixie, a friend exclaimed, “Hey, I know that dog! She used to hang around the ball field near 10th St. School. She’d role over and beg to have her belly rubbed.” Yep. That’s Tummy-Rub Trixie, all right. After being a stray, free to roam at will, she adapted quickly to walking on a leash. Sometimes I am open to God’s affection, like Trixie, hanging around the park, eager for a belly rub.

· “A female, 100% housebroken, golden/Labrador retriever”: During high school, our daughter, Beth, wanted a big dog to run with. Dad did not want another dog, so he set stringent specifications, thinking Beth would never find a dog with such qualifications. We name her Panda—located via the Indianapolis Trader by a not-to-be-outwitted teen. I can’t live up to God’s expectations, but He promised to adopt me anyway—just as Rex kept his word to Beth, adopting that 100% housebroken Trader pup.

I’m a lot like a Leader Dog puppy, too:

· Leader Dog puppy #1: Grace, a rambunctious yellow Labrador retriever with a nose for trouble. Like Midnight, Grace had a stubborn streak, but, amazingly, she graduated from her training at Leader Dogs for the Blind and lives and works in Costa Rica. As with Grace, I have a nose for trouble, but I can shape up and walk straight.

· Leader Dog puppy #2: Hope, a sweet, shy and compliant golden retriever. Leader Dogs for the Blind released Hope from the program late in her training for being shy, nervous and more a follower than a leader. We jumped at the opportunity to adopt her as a pet. This fall, Hope and I will work on certification as a therapy dog/handler team so we can visit schools and health care facilities. I’m a lot like Hope, more of a follower than a leader. My primary calling is to stay close to home and love my family.

· Leader Dog puppy #3: Faith, an affectionate and assertive golden retriever. Near the tail end of her formal training, Leader Dogs released Faith from the program due to kennel stress. We adopted Faith with the intention of finding her a home where she can utilize her training. On September 22nd, Faith will fly to Colorado to join Canine Partners of the Rockies where she will be trained to work with a person with mobility challenges. I sometimes fall short of a goal, but like Faith, I am teachable and full of potential to cross-train and serve in other ways.

Is it true that dogs resemble their masters (or is it that masters resemble their dogs)? I certainly aspire to resemble my Master. How ‘bout you?

“Walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

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