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What I love about dogs

90ed9763b5ef5a8cff13ec85af64a778You can a learn a lot by observing the behavior of an old dog.  Stray dogs are often cautious and defensive around strangers.  Even tamed dogs are at least doubtful of new hands, sniffing and keeping a keen eye your actions.  What I love about dogs is that after trust has been established, they let their guard down and soak up the attention of loving human hands.  A dog doesn’t just love anyone.  A dog will love the one who loves him first.  Once a relationship is established, it takes a lot for a dog to turn.  I’ve seen dogs beaten time after time and still go back.  I’ve seen dogs who were starved and neglected refuse to leave home.
 The most amazing thing about these dogs, is that they will never complain.  They will always think that their current condition must be the best available.  They will never doubt that their owner is doing the best he can. I have never seen a dog feel sorry for itself.   I have also seen those same dogs, rescued and recover from the most severe condition, and because some else showed them love they thrived. 

My wife’s stepfather recently passed away after a long hard battle with life.  While going through old pictures she came across a picture from his childhood, kneeling beside a dog.  She made the comment, “That’s just like him.  He always had a dog in his hands.”  I thought about that statement, and for the 13 years that I knew him, I could not recall a time when he did not have a dog nearby.  I could tell you a story about a time when his tiny Candy girl, saved his life after search dogs lead the police on a lost cause.  I could tell you about how his precious Roxy was on his mind the day he was in intensive care.

I seriously doubt that all the seats were filled during his funeral.  My wife was disappointed at the number of so called “friends” who did not attend in this small Georgia town.  The kind of town where time passes by underneath old pecan trees, and Friday night lights are followed by Dairy Queen and cruising the square block surrounding the court house.    

As the house chaplain was speaking during the funeral, I couldn’t help questioning to myself if my wife’s step dad understood who God was, or if he had a relationship with the Lord.  The topic of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was constantly repeating throughout the standard eulogy as if there was an elephant in the room.  As if everyone was thinking what I was thinking, but was afraid to admit it.  Finally, at the end of the ceremony, his beloved sister stood up to thank everyone for coming, and with the only tear that I saw in the whole chapel she told us this story. 

They had a conversation just before his heart attack about where he was with his faith.  About accepting Jesus Christ as his savior and what that meant.  It was more than just a tear of sadness, it held joy that maybe he was in a better place, it was a praise of thankfulness that she had opportunity to witness to her brother, and it was a sigh of relief that only comes when you just accomplished something difficult.

At first I really questioned if my wife’s stepfather really understood the conversation.  For those of us who knew him, we know that he was the kind of person who could fix or invent anything, but he wasn’t known to be a complex person.  He wasn’t the kind of man to discuss the purpose of life or the reason why things happened.  He could build a go cart out of spare parts he found in a dumpster (true story), but if you gave him the blueprint he would not understand what parts went where. 

Then I thought about my wife’s comment.  If a dog can fall in love with whoever loved him, then why couldn’t a simple man live by the same.  The more I thought about him, the more I realized that he was just like that.  If you showed him love, he would repay you with loyalty to the point where he was often taken advantage of.  I think that’s why he always had a dog nearby.  Why he always loved them.  If my wife’s stepfather was able to understand God’s love for him, then I know he would have loved him back.  He would have, as the saying goes, given God the shirt off of his back. 

I don’t have a scripture to share with you this time only this small story.  A small window into the life of a simple man, who didn’t have anything to leave behind.  Sometimes we make things harder than they have to be.  We convince ourselves that no one wants to listen.  Most of time I think we get scared that we will not know how to defend our belief when others question it.  It is not always our responsibility to close the deal.  Most of time all we are asked to do is plant the seed.  God provides the water and the sunshine.  For some life is such a battle, they just want to know that there is a God who loves them regardless of who they are.   


With Love,



Matt Rivers