We recently acquired a new member of the family. Despite my protests—we already had two dogs, after all—the big boy and the little boy showed up one day with the most beautiful chocolate lab puppy I’ve ever seen. Of course my heart melted. That was their plan. So now, I have a small horse living at my house.
The cuteness was short-lived. Especially at 2 a.m. when Jacobi, or “Brown Dog” as we affectionately call him, decided to cry and howl until somebody paid him some attention. Every night.
Every. Single. Night.
I Googled everything I could think of to learn how to shut him up. Finally, I landed on a dog obedience school near us that ran a special puppy program. The puppy could go and stay with them for ten days, and they would teach him all sorts of important things a puppy needs to know. Things like how to submit, how to be handled without getting nervous, and how to act in public.
I’m not sure if I sent Jacobi to puppy school so he’d learn those things or so I could have a ten-day break. A little of both, I guess. But sure enough, ten days later, Jacobi came back to us a new puppy.
During his stay at puppy camp, Jacobi learned many good things. But what I forgot to mention is that during his stay at puppy camp, his family (that would be us) was supposed to read and study The Puppy Manual, which taught us how to be good puppy owners.
There was a lot of stuff in there.
Stuff like how to keep your dog on a schedule. Stuff like the importance of exercise, both mental and physical. The book had suggestions for special toys and games to make your puppy smarter.
One of the lessons we learned in The Puppy Manual was the importance of keeping your puppy tethered to you, as often as possible. During the puppy stage, if you keep the dog on a leash at your feet, he will learn that you are the master. And he will learn the value of staying close to the master.
When Jacobi is close, I can sense when he’s about to do something naughty and redirect his behavior. I can’t do this if he’s wandering free in the house. And when he stays close to me, he gains a better understanding of my love and care for him. He doesn’t feel anxious or afraid, because he knows I’ll protect him and see to his needs.
Funny. I’ve noticed that when I stay close to my Master, I don’t mess up as much. I don’t get distracted with naughty behaviors as often, because He redirects me. But when I wander away from Him, I often find myself in all sorts of trouble. I do things I know I shouldn’t, things I’ll later regret, simply because I’m not in a place where I can easily hear my Master’s voice.
When I stay close to Him, I gain a better understanding of His love and care for me. I know He’ll protect me. I know He’ll supply all my needs.
Sometimes my attention is diverted, though, and I wander away from Him. But the great thing is, He always comes looking for me. During those times, if I listen closely, I’ll hear Him calling my name. And if I run to Him, He’ll always welcome me back with open arms.
“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge . . .” Psalm 73:28.