As you may recall, we adopted a two year old red Doberman at the end of December, almost six months after the death of our beloved Lexie. Hank has been transitioning into our family and he has acclimated rather well to Janet and me. But the more comfortable he gets in our home, the more evident it is that just doesn’t know how to act in certain situations.
We don’t know much about his background. He has been surrendered twice – once in Missouri where he was born; and then again in Illinois. That’s where we rescued him from – he was being fostered by a family near Urbana and there’s no question that he has added a great dimension to our lives.
Of course, we still miss Lexie, and she can never be replaced, but Hank is his own dog and it is taking resolute dedication in training to help him become the best dog that he can be. To that end, we have been fortunate enough to engage a top trainer who is helping us with private lessons on obedience and socialization. Hank is making good progress but we are still learning how to best anticipate his needs and to provide a level of consistency so he knows that he won’t be passed off to someone else.
Today, we brought Hank to a lesson on interacting and socializing with other dogs. In a carefully controlled environment, he was introduced to several rather passive dogs he had never seen before. It was in a fenced area that gave all of them plenty of room to run and frolic and play. And you know what? Hank didn’t know what to do.
It’s like he never learned to interact with others. Believe it or not, he doesn’t know how to play with other dogs. He alternates between being aggressive and then passive. Advance and then retreat. It was clear that he was confused and was experiencing something that he had never had before. It was eye opening for me.
Before today, I could never imagine that a dog wouldn’t know how to play. How lonesome it must have been for Hank as a puppy. Was he crated all the time? We know he spent 11 hours a day in a crate when we rescued him. But what about before that? He has three scars in his side where he has been bitten by other dogs. Is he always wondering who is going to hurt him next? Does he even realize who his master is? Can he let his guard down?
It was exhilarating to us to see Hank run – we have never seen that before – and sad that he couldn’t seem to enjoy interacting with the other dogs… But one thing that we noticed is that whenever he was unsure of himself, he would run back to Janet or me. He stood behind us – nudging us to pet him and to let him know that we supported him. It’s like he derived his joy from knowing that we were there for him.
Hank wanted us to protect him – and I have never seen this side of him before today. If possible, I have even more compassion for him than I had before. This big 90# dog, who projects fearlessness and pretends to be able to do life on his own became an insecure, unsure creature looking for protection. In an odd way, I felt sorry for him.
But isn’t that the way so many people operate? Seemingly self confident, able to handle themselves and then – all of a sudden – they are really something very different – turning to God for protection when moments earlier they thought they could handle life on their own. It’s these kinds of interactions that drive us to our knees – turning to our Master for solace.
King David was no stranger to this kind of relationship with God. There were times in his life when he sinned, when he exhibited great leadership and when he was running for his life. But one thing David learned – to turn to God when the going got tough. In tonight’s verse, we are told how David approached one of these situations when he was on the run from Saul. The psalmist tells us, in Psalms 57:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to run to Him and He wants to protect us from harm. My prayer is that when things get tough, and even when they don’t, we will keep our eyes focused on our Master – the ultimate Master – the creator of Heaven and earth. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…