From Rescue Dog to Guide Dog - Part 4

Buddy Flunks Doggy Day Care

You would think that a dog who was picked up off the streets would have a certain swag and street smarts - you know; a confident air that says I’ve seen it all and I’m top dog around here! But that’s not Buddy. We were told by Brian from “Way of the Dog” that we needed to take Buddy to the Dog Parks about 60 times and help him get socialized.

Buddy is a BIG 90 pound fearsome looking dog who, when people see him coming down the sidewalk, grab little fluffy and run. Buddy looks like that enormous bald guy in the prison yard bench pressing 1000 pound weights with a swastika tattooed on his forehead,. NOBODY messes with that guy! So naturally what I expect when Buddy steps foot into the Dog Park is the sea of K9s parting like he was a four footed Moses.

Wrong! A group of runt dogs greeted Buddy at the gate and Buddy turned tail and ran. It was embarrassing. So we took Buddy to the doggy day care center where they have a meticulous way of socializing dogs by introducing them into the pack. Buddy just about leaped out of his skin when those fifty sets of noses poked and prodded him of like he was a kielbasa at an encased meat convention. The sweet young manager of the facility politely turned to us and said; “I guess Buddy doesn’t like the environment”. In other words get your insecure piece of dog fur out of here. My dog flunked Doggy Day Care!

Me:        Buddy flunked Doggy Day Care

Brian:    So take him to the Dog Parks

Me:        You don’t understand, he’s like the nerd that all the bullies pick on and steal his lunch money

Brian:    Then you need to protect him

Me:        Ugh?

Brian:    Yeah, you need to be the pack leader that comes to his rescue so that he feels safe enough to interact with the other dogs

Me:        Me a pack leader? How do I do that?

Brian:    If you see another dog getting aggressive step in a give them a whack with the leash in your hand.

Me:        Won’t the owners mind?

Brian:    If they’re not paying attention to their dogs then they're idiots … so whack their dog. (Brian doesn’t mess around when it comes to dog training)

Brian explained that Dogs get aggressive when they are insecure so if we wanted to keep Buddy from getting into some bad habits (like ripping the throat out of the neighbor’s dog) then we need to make sure he knows he’s got back up. Kind of like Starsky and Hutch. (Note here – this is a reference to very old TV buddy cop drama) One of them won't go blasting into the drug dealers den unless he knows he's got the other one watching his back.

So once again, to help Buddy become the Guide Dog he was meant to be, we need to step up and learn something new; like how to become his bodyguard. Funny – I thought it was going to be the other way around. But somehow I think if we can pull this off he may just be that dog I want at my side when I encounter a scary person in a dark alley. Because we’ve got each other’s backs.

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The Simplicity of being a Sheep

I do not come from an agrarian culture; I grew up in a stucco clad track home in a city where it was a novelty to find a building that was older than me.  That is why it is easy for me to idealize the idea of sheep. They are fluffy white creatures who live on grassy green hills with their flute playing shepherd gently lullabying them to sleep, Right?

No, they are pretty clueless creatures that if not for the protection and guidance of the shepherd would be dead. So when Jesus continually referred to his followers (a group of hearty fishermen and the like) as sheep I can imagine that they were just a little uncomfortable with that depiction. I imagine them squirming a bit and politely asking Jesus if he could maybe create another metaphor like eagles or lions.

But God referring to us as sheep has a rich tradition in Scripture and there is a good reason for that. We are sheep! We act foolishly, are vulnerable to predators and have but one quality; we know the shepherd, listen to him and we follow.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
— John 10:14 NIV
The gatekeeper [shepherd] opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
— John 10:3 NIV

When a sheep stops following that is when they are in greatest danger. The shepherd leads them to food, away from danger and protects them with his very life. If a sheep decides to starts believing it is a lion it would be laughable - and tragic. We need to accept our "sheepness". Humbling yes, but very, very real.

So in keeping with our sheep intellect let me brake this down into two parts; our job as a sheep is to:

  1. Listen to the Shepherd’s voice

  2. Follow it

Here is a poem I wrote from the perspective of a sheep …

I am a sheep
I am to listen for my Shepherd’s voice and follow him
I am a Sheep
I have no protection apart from the Shepherd
I am a Sheep
I will go hungry and die in the wilderness unless I follow the Shepherd
My Shepherd goes before me and calls me to himself with his voice
My job is to hear his voice and follow
There are other voices, those that do not belong to the Shepherd
I must not follow those voices for they are out to kill and destroy me
I have only one job, listen for my Master’s voice and follow Him
Often I will not see Him; He is hidden from my view
For I am but a sheep and my eyes are close to the ground
But I can listen and follow and go where He leads
There are times when the way is rough and far from green pastures
My heart grows faint in these places
But I am not to look about me and try to understand the way
For I have but a sheep’s understanding
I am to listen for my Shepherd’s voice and follow
That is what I do
I can do nothing else
Nothing else matters
It is the Shepherd who is my whole world and He is Good!
His voice is true
In Him is my whole existence
I am His sheep
He is my Shepherd and I will listen for His voice and
Follow Him.

 

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