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Barking and Biting

Since we lost our yellow lab Ali a few years back our dog Bandit is now a lonely only. Bandit misses other dogs and when he and I take our daily walk into town he knows all the houses with dogs and watches for them with excitement and anticipation as we walk.  I on the other hand, dread passing these particular homes because despite the fact our lovely little town has dog ordinances and leash laws, many dog owners just ignore them and let their dogs run loose. Most days we walk to my office and there are at least three houses in the fifteen-minute walk where dogs are unrestrained by fence (either visible or invisible) or by leash when they are out of doors.  One day Bandit wasn’t even with me and a canine rushed me barking and snarling startling the skin right off me. Someday I may show up to the office with this dog’s teeth attached to my leg or to some other body segment. When we encounter dogs such as this, I remind Mr. Bandit not to listen to or engage with them or it could end in a barking and biting brawl.

Our family has been blessed by our good friend Denise who has helped to train up Bandit.  He can walk, sit, and stay on leash which makes walking him much more enjoyable because he isn’t walking me; pulling my arm out of the socket or dragging me hither and yon.  His training is ongoing we and keep practicing, day after day, year after year, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  I don’t speak dog and therefore I don’t know what these doggies are barking to Bandit but I do know if left to himself he eventually would do what the other dogs do- bark, charge, and maybe bite- and some days I just have to remind him not to pay attention or listen to the other dogs, but to keep his eyes on me.  

And that goes for me too. Like pooches, people are pack animals, and though we may like to isolate ourselves and be lonely onlys, we do have to get out from time to time and encounter other human beings. Despite the fact our lovely little world has universal and absolute moral codes of behavior, we are incapable of keeping these codes and many human beings frankly just ignore them. I know I can’t climb the stairway to heaven by being good, we only get there by God’s grace and our acceptance of that.  But that doesn’t give me or you license to verbally or physically go after somebody. And folks, when you really understand grace at a heart level – because we certainly can’t at a head level – after a while, the desire to bark and bite simply goes away.

As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus I am good to go. Like Bandit, left to myself I would eventually do what the human beings around me do. I can’t be looking and listening to the world for my cues on behavior and I most certainly can no longer be engaging in it.   I have to day after day, year after year keep my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  If following Jesus doesn’t turn me upside down and change me from the inside out, I simply remain part of the problem and I’d rather be part of the solution.  Jesus reminds me as He walks with me through life I need to pay attention to Him so you all don’t end up with my teeth in your leg or some other body segment.  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis