Does God use dogs to teach us spiritual lessons?
There are currently about 340 different breeds of dogs not to mention all the various mixed breeds. Of all the animals that God created none is more suited to live and work with humans. Think of all the ways that dogs serve us. Therapy dogs, Police K-9 officers, cancer detectors, seizure alert, search and rescue, bomb and drug detection, helping those with PTSD, and companions. The list could go on, but you get the idea.
But over and above all that, I believe that God uses dogs to reflect His unconditional love for us better than anything we encounter in this life. Perhaps that is why dog is God spelled backward.
I have had a love affair with dogs as long as I can remember. And God has used them to teach me lessons since I was eight months old. That’s when the family dog taught me to walk (no kidding).
Always Room For One More
Two years ago I found myself with a profound desire to adopt another dog. I already had two dogs and a cat, so the whole idea seemed a bit crazy, but the feeling persisted.
I met two different dogs, and both adoption attempts fell through for various reasons. Then there it was her picture on Facebook. Something about her eyes drew me in and wouldn’t let go. They were soft and kind. I had to meet her.
The shelter that was caring for her was located nearly fifty miles from my home. No problem, I enlisted a friend and on a brisk Saturday morning in April we set out for the shelter.
The attendant brought her into the room. I have to admit that my heart sank a little. She wasn’t what I had expected. She seemed small, and she showed very obvious evidence that she had recently given birth to a litter of pups.
The shelter had named her Jilli. She was not overly enthusiastic in her greetings. A bit shy, she would take a treat if offered and then retreat. After feeding her a boatload of treats we went outside for a walk.
The walk didn’t produce any different results. Offer a treat and she was right there. When the treat was gone, she was off to the end of the leash.
Everything I knew about dogs and temperaments was telling me that this was not a good match. So I took her back inside and told the attendant I was sorry, but I didn’t think this would work.
From Jillie to Sadie – A Do-Over
My friend and I decided to look at the other dogs currently at the shelter, but I wasn’t drawn to any of them. I decided to go to Jilli’s kennel once more time before we left.
She stood silently at the gate just staring at me while all the dogs around her were incessantly barking. I stared at her for a long time but still felt that it would not be a good idea to adopt her. And so amidst the protests of my friend, I decided to leave.
I got as far as the end of the kennel run, but I couldn’t leave. The attendant who had helped me was standing there. She happily obliged as I asked to see Jilli in the meeting room one more time.
On the way to the room, a staff member saw Jilli headed to the meeting room and showed great enthusiasm about the potential adoption. I asked him if he knew this dog and when he indicated yes I asked him to join me.
After talking to Anthony for just a few minutes, I found myself seeing Jilli in a whole different light. And when he looked at me and said, “No one ever looks at Jilli when they come to adopt.” My heart melted, and the deal was sealed.
Adoption papers in hand, Jilli left the shelter with a new name. Sadie jumped happily into the car and headed to her new home for a chance at a do-0ver.
A Big Mistake
The meet and greet with my existing two dogs couldn’t have gone better. It seemed like we were off to a great start. Fast forward three weeks and I was questioning my decision to bring Sadie home.
Thoughts like; “What Have I done?” and “This isn’t working out.” ran through my head. There were some behaviors towards dogs not part of our pack as well as some destructive behaviors that caused me to have second thoughts. Then there were the emotional scars from obvious abuse. She definitely had a lot of baggage.
I didn’t want to take her back to the shelter, but I just didn’t see any other options. As I questioned what I should do I felt the gentle nudge of the Spirit.
I felt God telling me that Sadie was indeed meant to be part of my life. I felt Him telling me to “just love her and give it time. I have much to teach you about life and love through Sadie. And I want you to share the lessons I teach you with others. Just trust me.”
Just A Couple of Do-Over Girls
So, now here were are two years later. God has indeed taught me and is still teaching me many lessons through Sadie. The first one being, do-overs are possible and not just for dogs. I look forward to occasionally sharing the lessons I’m learning in future posts. And just for the record, I loved on Sadie the way God asked me to, and now I find myself madly in love with her, and I wouldn’t give her up for the world (I think that’s another lesson).
As I sit at my desk writing, Sadie is lying at my feet. We are just a couple of do-over girls on a journey to wholeness. Forgiven, secure in His love, becoming who we were meant to be.
Has God ever taught you a lesson in an unusual way? If so, how?