New puppy Cato and I are taking our late afternoon walk down the gravel driveway to the turn-around. Beside me, Cato ambles loose leash, sniffing along to find good spots to mark. Suddenly, he stops, eyes me, and jumps, mouthing my sleeve like I’m a chew toy.
I turn my back and bark, “Cato, off! Cato, no teeth!” I keep my back to him so he can’t see my face. While consciously ignoring him, I count up to 30 seconds, which is a dog’s in-the-moment attention span. He calms before time is up, and we continue our walk.
Two minutes later, he eyes me again, jumps and mouths. I bark the commands, turn my back, hide my face, and count—less than five seconds this time. Has he learned the lesson? Probably not.
Cato is a sweet dog, lonely and eager for a home. Most of the time, he walks well on leash. Although he’s ravenous and gobbles his food as if someone’s going to take it away from him, he now sits with the pack, watches, and waits until we give the okay signal to eat. This way, he comes to understand that the food belongs to us, his masters, and he will be rewarded for obedience.
He sleeps well in his crate at night, safe and warm. With a regular routine, he’s gaining confidence and is doing much better with stress messing. His concentration during fetch playtime has improved, too.
Yet, he’s still a puppy, and puppies are a lot of work.
How like puppies are we. Thinking we control everything. Greedily wolfing our food. Making a mess of our home.
We in our immaturity are a lot of work.
Our elder dogs Heathcliff and Freya are patient until they’ve had it with Cato’s jumping and mouthing. They snap at him and distance themselves beyond the reach of his leash, as here on the dining deck.
How like our God with us.
Yet, we yearn to see His face, to know we are not alone.
May you be comforted.