My husband and I had no idea we were “dog people” until Molson loped into our lives. A German shepherd/huskie mix, Molson was on his way to the animal shelter when he took a detour into our home and hearts. He was amazingly docile, obedient, and lovable – a perfect first dog for the 12 years we had him. After he died, we were looking for another canine companion (one that wouldn’t yank me full throttle into snowbanks) when our neighbor introduced us to Cody. Her daughter needed to find another home for him because he was a handful.

Understatement of the Year

Now Cody, all 26 pounds of cocker spaniel, was altogether different. While Molson, despite his appearance, was the beta of our pack, this little cutie was Alpha with a capital A. And we had no idea how to handle our new boss. Everyone thought he just did not get it. He got it alright. If there were a Mensa for dogs, this little guy would be chapter president. He simply did not care what I wanted. Cody barked incessantly at visitors, other dogs, and things unseen. After totally misbehaving once too often, it was off to doggie boot camp for the both of us.

Sometimes, like Cody, we think we are our own god. I had no idea I would learn so much about my relationship with God while I taught my dog to sit, stay, and heel.

Lessons Learned

First, I needed to learn to communicate with Cody. Smart as he was, I was light years smarter – a pale comparison of my mind to God’s. In Isaiah 55:8 God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” In 1 Corinthians 1:25 we read, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” Clearly, I have as much chance of understanding God, and his wise sovereignty over my life, as Cody would have of the reasons for my commands.

I was amazed how readily Cody looked to me for direction once he understood our new relationship of mistress and wee beastie. He must have been waiting for someone to relieve him of the burden of being boss! As Cody relaxed under my authority, I recalled one of our pastor’s remarks. “There are two things you need to know. The first is, there is a God. The second is, it’s not you.”

To bring that concept home to Cody, I introduced him to the “long down.” Each evening, after the day’s adventures had tired him, I commanded him to “lie down” and kept him down for 20 minutes. If he tried to get up, I gently maintained enough pressure to keep him down and the 20-minute clock began anew. After a while he got the message that I was boss, and l would rule. I found it difficult to remain still for 20 minutes when I had other things to do, but did it because it would help him learn obedience more easily. I loved him that much. Looking back on my life, I believe God has put me in a few “long downs” to teach me the same lesson.

Eventually Cody learned to greet visitors nicely, come when I called him, and stay put on my command. He was cuddly, sweet, and gave precious doggy-love to his pack until the day he died.

I hope I give my Master as much joy as Cody gave me. In the end, that’s all that matters.