Leash Lessons with Lily

I’m sure my right arm is starting to come out of socket from walking our dog. She’s only 25 pounds of puppy but I’d like to attach my luggage scale to the leash soon and see how many pounds she pulls on the leash. Our scale might max out.

My son and I joke about what she’s thinking when we go on walks. As Lily pulls on the leash to the point of choking herself we wonder what exactly is going on in that puppy brain of hers.

Their chasing me! I’ve got to get going faster or they’re going to catch me!

Must pant say pant hi pant to pant that pant dog pant.

If I put my ears back, I’ll be more aerodynamic.

Yay! We rounded the corner! We’re halfway home! Time to pick up the pace!

Since we don’t know much about dogs, we google search our training objectives. Apparently, we want to teach our dog to “loose leash walk”, that’s PC dog trainer speak for “stop choking herself to death on the leash.”

I get really excited when I think of Lily walking like that super well-behaved Sheltie we sometimes see on our walks. Oh the joy of a dog that just walks by my side and doesn’t have me worrying about how many people will notice in a few years if my right arm is noticeably longer than my left!

The basics of most dog training seems to be to make the dog realize that fun is not to be had with their chosen behavior. They don’t get us to yank them around when they, say, have a ball in their mouth that you want back. You just hold it still and they realize oh, this is no fun, I guess I’ll let them have it.

The longer we have a dog, I think my husband and I would have worked through a lot of our parenting style issues if we’d started with a dog. Or, we’d just have a really confused dog.

Anyway, I’ve begun walking the dog with the wonderful Sheltie in mind as my desired future.

Lily is learning but its a tough process. The leash is slack for a while then she starts getting after that deer, squirrel, cat, dog, leaf, etc and snap the slack is gone and I’m planning my next visit to physical therapy.

Now, I’m letting her get to the end of the rope and experience the reality that she’s not having fun. We stop for a few seconds until she stops pulling. I praise her and we move along a second or so until we repeat the whole process again. I’d not have much patience for it except that she is slowly learning.

And so am I…but not so much about dog training. My mind wanders to other things which is why I write this blog. I have thoughts.

I’m not a great loose leash walker with Jesus. I’m just like my dog, chasing after the next distraction I think will bring me so much …something…and I’m quickly wondering why life feels a bit…chokey.

Ah! My mind pieces things together quickly, God is after me and doesn’t want me to have fun! If only I got to live life on my own…

And I fail to remember that He feeds me, He gives me a safe refuge, He loves me, and He cares for me. My highest purpose is fulfilled not when I catch that squirrel of an experience…

but when I’m with Him.

Now or Never

We got a dog. It was a huge surprise for our kids because I was pretty firm on not ever getting one.

We travel a lot. Dogs aren’t really in our budget. They’re a lot of work. They destroy stuff.

But I really didn’t want a bearded dragon. My friend’s kid has a bearded dragon which she offered me really quickly when I told her my son wanted one. That’s a sign, I think. She told me how people let their dragons roam their house and perch on their shoulder.

Didn’t really warm my heart, gotta say.

Bearded dragons have huge cages and warming lights. We live in Texas. It’s already hot. Maybe if we lived somewhere cold that would seem more appealing?

I walked away from this conversation thinking we needed to back away from a lizard. But I couldn’t deny that my kids really longed for a pet to cuddle and take care of. They’d asked many times and I was for sure the bad guy standing in the way of them and puppy bliss.

My husband and I talked about it all summer in hushed whispers because we were living in a dorm. Yep, all 5 of us in 2 rooms with one toilet and one shower. Kids came in and out of our room all summer and I got real good at shutting down web pages fast. If they ever found out we were even thinking about it and didn’t do it, I wasn’t sure they would be able to forgive me!

When we returned home, I convinced my husband to come with me to check out a potential dog and “just get information”. We ended up coming home with a puppy.

Lily is our dog’s name and we adopted her from an animal shelter. Wait…we rescued her from an animal shelter. I am figuring out that people don’t call it the pound anymore. There’s so much to learn about America and dog culture!

She’s white with brown spots, soulful eyes, a long tail, and needle sharp puppy teeth that I’m terrified of having no real experience with puppies.

The first few days I about had some panic attacks about what we had taken on. A neighbor commented that their dog that had looked just like ours lived for 18 years. 18 years! That did not help my anxiety.

But, we’ve settled in to life with a doggie. I’m enjoying it more than I anticipated. She makes us all laugh, gets us out on walks together, provides a warm welcome anytime one of us comes home, and loves pretty unconditionally.

And that’s probably my favorite thing about her, the sweet welcomes and love she gives when my kids come home from school. She’s always happy to see us and in this day and age, that’s pretty awesome!

Such a demonstration of God’s grace, that wagging tale that’s always happy to see us no matter what we’ve done.