I have a two year old Miniature Pinscher, or Min-Pin as they are often called, named Dobie. It is amazing what lessons I can learn from my tiny ten pound companion. As with all dogs, he has his own unique personality. This is both good and bad, depending on the timing of his demeanor and behavior. Overall, he is an excellent companion, and as it turns out “life coach.”
While taking him on one of his typical neighborhood walks the other day, I reflected on some of his behaviors and personality quirks that makes him unique. Then I realized I can learn a lot from this tiny four-legged philosopher.
- Dobie often pauses to investigate items I consider mundane, such as leaves, clumps of grass, twigs, and the like. While I often fail to notice such “ordinary” items, he performs a full CSI investigation into them. This led me to ask myself, “Do I pause in my busy day to explore the “simple” things in life? Or, am I too busy to notice these small wonders?” Maybe I should slow down and appreciate the world around me.
- Dobie is a small dog, miniature in fact, but he isn’t afraid to challenge big dogs. It is rather comical that Dobie will walk right past another small dog, without even giving it a second look, but he hackles up and is ready to confront every larger dog that he encounters. While we may consider this to be foolish (it is), there may actually be some wisdom in this. Do I boldly face the “big” challenges of my life, no matter how small I may actually seem compared to them? Perhaps we could all use a bit more of this self-confidence to get us through some of the things life throws at us.
- Dobie often barks at the slightest sound that breaks the quiet stillness. Unfortunately, I am not always pleasantly accepting of his habit of barking at sounds in the middle of the night when it wakes me up out of a dead sleep. But, perhaps I can learn something from this as well. Am I alert to the dangers that surround me? For instance, especially given the latest shootings in Midland and Odessa, do I remain aware of my surroundings as I drive throughout the day? Maybe we would all be better off to be less complacent in our daily lives.
- Dobie goes absolutely ballistic when I kill a fly. I think this is one of the quirkiest things about him, but it is absolutely true. He runs at me while jumping up and down barking as loud as he can if he hears, let alone sees, me swat a fly. I think he probably has a contract with these annoying pests that I am unaware of to protect them. But, this makes me reflect on my own beliefs. Am I respectful of all of God’s creation? Do I appreciate the beauty in nature, and try to protect it as much as I can? Of course, I probably will continue to draw the line with houseflies and mosquitoes.
- Dobie loves to snuggle with me as close as he physically can. As with a lot of small dogs, Dobie loves to get under a blanket and snuggle up next to me. This is usually comforting, unless it is at four o’clock in the morning and he is rolling across my face. As I think about this, however, I have to ask myself, “Do I appreciate warm, loving touches?” I believe God created us with a desire for physical comfort to validate feelings of love and acceptance. God must have made Dobie that way too!
- Dobie relies on me to feed him and water him regularly. Without my provision, Dobie would not survive. He is a house dog. He doesn’t hunt, trap, or fish. If he is out of food or water, he lets me know (rather pointedly), and I give him more. Perhaps it is easy for me to acknowledge Dobie’s dependence on my provision, while ignoring my dependence on God’s provisions. But, I am no different than Dobie in this aspect. I am fully dependent on God’s provisions and equipping me to make through each day.
- Dobie naps….. a lot. It is a scientific fact that dogs sleep around eighteen hours per day. While that is way too much for a functioning person to sleep, it does cause me to analyze if I give myself adequate times to rest. Even God rested one day out of seven. Plus, there is ample scientific evidence to support our body’s need for set periods of rest. Not to mention, it just feels so good to stop and rest sometimes.
- When Dobie isn’t sleeping, he is often playing. He has an assortment of squeaky bones, chew bones, and other rubber toys. His favorite toy is probably whichever one is in his mouth at a certain time. He will often bring it to me and challenge me to pry it from his jaws of steel and throw it so he can fetch it and challenge me again. This behavior makes me pause whatever I am doing and focus on him. But, it also makes me analyze my own life. Do I allow enough time for leisure activities in my life? Just like I need time to rest, I also need time to play in life.
Maybe you found yourself relating to some of the things on this list, I know I did. What can you glean from the behaviors of the animals in your life? I guess it turns out we can learn a lot from our four-legged friends.