This post originally appeared in 2015 on my previous blog, Living Unleashed. I am reposting it as I approach the second anniversary of Lexy’s passing.
I’ve been around dogs from the time I was born and have always loved being in their company. All my dogs touched my life for the better and made it richer than before I knew them. But none more so than a remarkable yellow lab named Lexy.
When Lexy was three years old, I received a call from a friend (and also Lexy’s breeder) asking if I would consider adopting her. Apparently, the owner could no longer keep her and asked my friend to find her a new home. I agreed to meet Lexy and consider the adoption. I drove home from the meeting with Lexy in the car. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Lexy would wind up being more than just a loyal friend. She became a life coach and mentor.
Although the ten years we shared were not nearly long enough, she taught me many lessons during our time together. I’m sure I missed some lessons along the way but here are five that I will never forget:
Dance Like No One Is Watching
I have never seen anyone, dog or human so happy to greet the new day. In fact, her morning wake-up ritual was so exuberant that I dubbed it the “happy d-dog day dance.” The alarm would go off and Lexy, sleeping calmly by my side would roll to her back and stretch herself horizontally across my body. With an open mouth smile and total doggie abandon, she would proceed to wiggle her body from my abdomen all the way to my ankles.
She was completely in the moment. Not worried about what the day held. Or what might or might not happen. Nor was she worried about who was watching. All she knew was that it was a new day and she was going to celebrate. It’s hard to wake up in a bad mood when that much joy is wiggling on top of you.
How much time do we spend in the past or the future? How much of today do we waste by rehashing what happened yesterday, last week, last month, or by worrying about what might happen tomorrow? How much time do we waste worrying about what other people will think?
When we live in regret of the past or fear of the future, we forfeit the potential of today. In Psalm 118:24 the Psalmist encourages us to embrace today, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Have a happy d-dog day!
Treat Everybody Like They Are A Somebody
Lexy never met a stranger. I can honestly say she never met anyone she didn’t like. To her, everybody was a somebody.
It started with being present. When she met someone, she was entirely focused on them. Listening intently to what they said. Focusing on their body language, reading their emotions.
She did not judge them based on what they looked like or what she thought she could gain from the relationship. She was just present, and when they walked away, I’m sure their affirmation bucket was a little fuller because of her.
I hope that I can follow her example when I interact with others. Hopefully, I will just be present. Not thinking about what I will say when they stop talking, Not all-knowing. Not judging. Instead, genuinely listening, valuing and caring about them. Seeing them through God’s eyes as the somebody they are.
Don’t miss the chance to affirm others.
Bark Less Wag More
Dogs communicate more with body language than with vocalization. Lexy could say more with the wag of her tail than if she barked for an hour. And likewise, she responded more to my body language than my words.
If I was calm, she would be calm. If I was playful, she would be playful. She responded to my voice cues, but it was my actions that triggered her immediate response.
What a lesson in how humans should act toward each other. Our actions speak so much louder than our words or as a wise man once said, “More is caught than taught.”
God used Lexy to teach me a lot in this area. Teaching me to make sure both my actions and my words communicate with grace and truth.
Love With Reckless Abandon
Lexy loved unconditionally, and she demonstrated this lesson every day of her life. It didn’t matter if I embraced her or gruffly rebuffed her. Lexy’s love and affection were unrelated to my performance.
I have always said that dogs are the purest example of God’s unconditional love for us. Lexy certainly proved that. She was the poster child for grace and forgiveness. But her love for me was minuscule compared to the love God has extended to me.
Jesus taught that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as ourselves. Whenever I am tempted to act in an unloving manner Lexy’s example reminds me how to live out Jesus teaching.
Dogs are bred for a purpose. Lexy was a Labrador Retriever. Bred to retrieve and swim. It was programmed into her DNA.
When I walked with her on a leash, her body language was happy, but when we got to the edge of the lake, and I snapped the leash off, she was fully alive. Charging into the lake, she would swim out and retrieve her lure again and again. Doing what she was created to do gave her joy and energy.
Just like Lexy you and I are created with a purpose by a loving God. But like Lexy, we all have leashes in our lives. Places we get stuck. It might be a painful past, fear of the future, unhealthy relationships, toxic emotions, financial issues or a job.
The good news is we don’t have to lead leashed lives. God’s grace unhooks the leash that holds us back and allows us to run free and be who He created us to be.
It’s been two years since Lexy crossed the rainbow bridge and my heart still aches for her. In addition to all the lessons, God used her to teach me she also trained Miley and Sadie to carry on in her paw prints and she would be proud of the job they are doing. I am so thankful God brought her into my life at just the right time. I’m grateful for the time we shared together and all the lessons she taught me. Thank you, Lexy, for helping me see the unfathomable love of God for me and everybody I meet through the eyes of a gentle, beautiful, remarkable yellow lab!
Question: Have you shared your life with a special furry friend? What life lessons did they teach you? Please share your answer below in a comment.