Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Tail of Two Dogs

Our family has had quite a few pets: dogs, cats, ducks, snakes, gerbils, a tarantula, a skink and lots of fish.  Currently, we just have two dogs. One is a big, beautiful, eight year old Siberian Husky. I don’t say he is beautiful to brag. I say it because people will stop their cars when we are out for a walk and say, “Wow! That is a beautiful dog!”
The thing about it is, I think he knows he is beautiful. I think he knows when people stop their cars, and talk to us, that they are talking about him. His name is Tacoma, and one of my friends described him in one word ‘regal’.  That really does sum it up. He is regal. He acts like he is the king of everything. He acts like everyone and everything is beneath him. He likes people and he likes to be petted, but he would never lower himself to beg or jump on you just to be petted. He will walk close to you and offer you his beautiful fur, for your opportunity to pet him. He, very seldom, will lower himself to bark. Again, I think he thinks barking is for little dogs, that are not large and in charge, like he is. When we go walking, he proudly holds his head up high, walks a straight line, knows where we are going, thinks he is leading, and does not even glance at the poor dogs yapping away at him from inside a fence. He is purpose driven, and knows his assignment is to get his pack completely around our walking path. He does not have time to stop and smell the roses or acknowledge any other dogs along the way.

We have another dog too. I hate for her to be called ‘the other dog’, but that is what she is. We got her from a rescue shelter, when she was a puppy. Her tag said she was Australian Shepherd mix. The truth is, she is mostly mix. As the vet said, “She looks like an ordinary ‘rez dog’, a little bit of everything.” Great. I was hoping she would be more Australian Shepherd looking, so she could hold her own with the regal dog. No such luck. She looks very ordinary, tan, short hair, medium sized, like so many other mutts walking around. We named her Darla, because she was  so darling when she was a puppy. The thing that makes her special though is that she loves everybody. She does think everyone around her wants to pet her and she wants to show doggie love to everyone who comes close to her.  She wags her tail and shakes her whole body, so excited to see new people. Even when she comes in the house for the tenth time in the morning, she acts like she hasn’t seen us in days. In many ways, she is the opposite of Tacoma. She knows she is not the boss of anyone. She obeys all the non-verbal, dog dominant communication that Tacoma shows her. If they are getting treats, Tacoma always gets the first one. If they are getting fed, she lets Tacoma choose the bowl he wants first. If he wants her pillow, chew toy, bone or treat, she will automatically acquiesce to his preference. Sometimes he wants his bone AND her bone, and will get both. She will sit a few feet away, wagging her tail, watching his every move and waiting to see if he will get up and leave one of the bones, so she can snatch it back. She is the happiest dog we have ever had, and really, the happiest one in our family. She will never make it on the cover of Dog Magazine, but she brings a lot of joy to our family.

They say that dog owners start to look like their dogs. I wonder how we look. Do I want to look beautiful, but act large and in charge, like everyone else owes me something, like Tacoma? Or would I rather look plain and ordinary, but show love to everyone I meet, like Darla? I always choose Darla, anytime there is an opportunity where I can (or should) only take one dog. Nobody is going to comment about how beautiful she is. But, she will make others feel loved just by her enthusiasm to see them and her sweetness while she is around them.
As much as our world admires and is impressed by beautiful looking people, and dogs, I would much rather be a person who shows love to others, who is enthusiastic to see anyone new, and who is sweet to those around me. Just like it says in 1 Samuel 16:7 “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
How about you? Do you have a beautiful dog or one with a sweet spirit?