Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tips from the Dog Trainer

Our new dog, Belle, just started obedience training. When we took her out of the car for her first session she immediately started lunging forwarding, trying to run off and play. Other dogs barked, squealed, jumped on their owners, or found other ways to reveal why they needed to attend doggie charm school. Every quirk in every dog came out during that first embarrassing class.

One lady showed up with a Chihuahua who had a terrible case of little man syndrome. When he saw his classmates—all larger dogs—he made it clear that he planned to bite the toes off any lab, sheep dog, or pit bull that got in his way. I expected Guy, the trainer, to instruct the rest of us to protect the poor little lamb from our mean hulks. Instead, when he had the class form a circle, he put the yipping Chihuahua in the middle.

“I’m doing this for a reason,” he explained. “Little dogs have a habit of getting in big dog’s faces and occasionally need to be cut down to size.” He gently told the owner about the importance of teaching small breeds to leave big dogs alone. “The truth is a Chihuahua is about the size of a large squirrel. You know what big dogs like to do with squirrels.” That pint-sized pooch needed to be humbled, disciplined, and trained for his own protection.

This morning, when Belle managed to escape our back yard through a damaged section of fence, I realized that she needs training for the same reason. Seeing her run toward me the first time I called, “Come, Belle,” proved that she has already learned a little. But she has a ways to go. We had to purchase a special collar to train her not to lunge forward when we walk her. We were ordered to go through daily rounds of “Come, Belle. Good girl. Sit. Good girl! Stay . . . ” We’re still working on “stay.” But all of this will keep her from running into the street, leaping on a small child, and dislocating my shoulder (or my husband’s or my son’s).

Belle and that vocal Chihuahua are not the only creatures that need training. We do too. Sometimes it might seem like God is trying to spoil our fun with a list of don’ts. In reality, His limits are for our protection. Think of some of the training that you’ve received from God on how to live, not just the Christian life, but life in general. How have His limits protected you?

Thank God, today, for loving you enough to put you through His obedience program. I know I have many reasons to thank Him for it.

No comments: