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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What the Life of a Dog has Taught Me About Maintaining My Sanity

I love dogs--particularly big dogs.  I have, in the past, dubbed myself the Negro Dog Whisperer, but then I met a gentleman by the name of Michael Jackson (yes--Michael Jackson) who is -THE- Negro Dog Whisperer, at which time I immediately demoted myself.  I'm simply Michael's Whisperer Apprentice.

And so it should come as no surprise that I am dogsitting my neighbor's Beagle Pit mix, Harley, a few days here and there this week. Last night at about 9:oopm, I was headed over to let Harley out one last time.  I exited my yard, entered his and as I turned around to close the gate, saw this little snack of a dog (Jack Russel Terrier Yorkie mix) trotting along behind me.

I sprang into full-on Ace Ventura Pet Detective mode and said to myself what I always say when I see a domesticated, stray dog: if it comes to me, I'll try to get it back to its home.

Snack, (I named him Snack because I have a large, vicious looking, black, brindle, female Cane Corso) came right over to me and I scooped him up....dang it--no tag.  I let Harley out to do his business and headed home.

My husband was holding our sleeping, infant son on the couch, (afraid to move because I am also the Baby Whisperer in our home,) when  I walked in holding Snack.  He said, "That's not Harley."  He knows me so well and I saw fear in his eyes.  He immediately felt compelled to announce, "We aren't keeping him."

Snack spent the night with us because I failed to find his owner, but thankfully someone named Juan called our leasing office this morning to claim Snack, who is actually Baxter.

As Juan and I spoke on the phone regarding the matter, all I could think of was how I'm too immature to have a friend named Juan.  ("Juan of these days you'll learn to put a tag on that dog."....and it would never end.)

About Juan hour after (see what I mean....) resolving Snack-gate, it was time to bathe my dog Shyne.  I was massaging the shampoo into her fur and my mind was wandering.  I started to wonder what my deal was with dogs--why I liked them so much, why I sometimes even prefer them over people.

It's probably because when I meet my puppies, I get to put my own heart print on them.  That dog will always be mine.  It will always love me, it will never judge me, it forgets that I was rotten two seconds earlier, and God bless it--it doesn't talk.   

Then it struck me how critical my relationship with dogs has been when it comes to my mental rehabilitation.  I have learned three life altering lessons from a creature that sniffs butts to say hello.  Incredible.

1. Keep it simple.
2. You--the owner are always at fault.
3. There is much joy to be found in the simple things.
My dog, Shyne (shine) sitting at
my feet while I use the bathroom
sink.  She follows me everywhere.
Keep It Simple
A dog's life is simple.  It likes to play, socialize, eat and nap.  It needs solid, consistent leadership, decent food and a warm, dry place to sleep.

So much of my adult life was way too complicated--reading into everything, being overly sensitive, ridiculous rituals and indulging paralyzing anxieties.  These days I'm learning to keep it simple.

Philippians 4:8 is the key to keeping it simple.  "....whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Jehovah Jireh has provided solid, consistent leadership, decent food and a warm, dry place for me to lay my head each night and all I wanna do, folks, is mix a little work with a lot of play, socialize, eat and nap.  Ahhhhh--simple.

Misery is Always Your Fault
If your dog pees in your house--your fault.  If your dog is rude to visitors--your fault.  If your dog doesn't respect you--your fault.  And likewise, you have the power to fix it.

I have discovered that for almost every negative situation I find myself in, there is either a piece that is my fault (James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.") or it is my fault that I'm not yet at peace (Luke 6:28 "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.")

I am responsible for the quality of my existence.  Whatever the circumstances, if I am miserable in them it is my fault because I have the power through Christ to achieve peace and be victorious no matter the situation.

Finding Joy in the Simple Things
Oh what relief and respite I have found, oh what joy there is to be had in the simple things in life.  A dog will just about keel over dead with joy when greeting you following any period of separation, be it big or small.

Many dogs are ecstatic upon realizing they are going for a walk or a ride in the car.  A sweet, high pitched coochy-coo is just heaven to their ears.  Just to lie at your feet would satisfy their every desire.

Medication helped me start to notice the simple things in life, but the joy came as I began pushing all the clutter out of the way--gossip, drama, strife, discontentment, pride, ill-will, grudges.

Sure!--I am predisposed to behave this way because I have a broken brain, but still I own it.  I have a lot of work left to do--the work will continue until I take my last breath.  But, it's like a weight has been lifted off of my spirit and I am here to tell you that you can find great joy in the simple things when you move the clutter out of the way.

It was because the clutter was removed that I was open enough to meet Michael Jackson in a dog park almost two years ago......
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  And although he is a professional dog trainer currently based in Michigan, he is at this time offering you, my friends, FREE training advice via telephone regarding your favorite, furry friend--of the canine variety of course.   Please contact Mr. Michael Jackson at (347)351-9343 with all your dog training questions and concerns.
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I thank you for joining me today and I ask that if you have read this blog please Holla Back with the comment "I'm ready to 'ruff' it with you, Nyla!"  All my love...

~me~