Four things that I should learn from the family dog

MarcyOur dog Marcy loves Saturdays when we are home doing chores around the house. She is less than a year old and is still very puppy-like. This past Saturday while I was splitting wood I had a chance to observe her while she entertained herself. The thought struck me that there were a few lessons for me in her behavior. Some things I’ve learned from my dog:

  1. Feel free to chase the leaves as the wind blows them around the yard. Marcy can spend hours chasing butterflies, bees and leaves around the yard. She gets great enjoyment from this and the number of things to chase is large. What I learn from this is that I should enjoy the small gifts that God sends my way. When I am open to it, there is a seemingly inexhaustible list of things that I can enjoy. Sunshine, the wind in the trees, a beautiful spider web or an exuberant greeting by a puppy are all things that are meant to be enjoyed.
  2. Just about anything will work as a chew toy. This is similar to #1 but is slightly different. Marcy does not seem to waste any effort in pining over a lost toy. There are potential toys all around her, so she does not get stressed at the loss of any one of them. A piece of firewood, a shoe, a sock, a pair of glasses or a gardening trowel is acceptable to her as a chew toy. In other words rather than being disappointed by the lack of a particular toy, she makes herself content with whatever is available. Too often, I fall prey to the idea that some item will make my life easier or more complete. Instead, it would be so much better to be content with what I have.
  3. People are more important than anything else. Whenever someone comes out of the house or pulls in our driveway, Marcy takes it upon herself to be the welcoming committee. Whenever a new person is within her sphere, that person becomes her one and only priority. I am sometimes distracted by things that need to be done or some other preoccupation causes me to fail in my greeting and connection with the people around me.
  4. Do not worry about anything. I can observe no indication that our dog worries about anything. She gratefully eats the food when it is in the bowl but shows no concern about when the bowl might be filled again. I can observe no fear of what might happen. She simply responds to life as it happens and seemingly derives the most joy out of what is happening in the moment. I should not let concern over things I cannot control distract me from enjoying the moment.

Jesus also pointed to the animal kingdom to give us a lesson when he said:

“”For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25–27, NASB)

We can learn a lot from birds and puppies.