First- the good.
Scooter's a great dog. When I bring him out to festivals, places with lots of people and dogs to boot, he is extremely well behaved. He lets anyone with hands rub his head, lets little kids squeeze and kiss his face, pick up his paws, all with no problem.
He even models love, patience, and kindness to me on a daily basis.
When I take Scooter for a walk, I often reflect on my relationship with him. This dog of mine is attached to a leash, but he doesn't live like that. He doesn't live life on the end of the leash. He greets me, he walks close by my side and rubs his head against my hand while we walk, he watches for me... By his own free will he has decided to accept his place and embrace it, despite his many frustrations.
Now, The bad-
Dogs can't articulate what it is they want and need and it's our duty to sit with them and figure it out. I realized this week, as I witnessed him angrily barking at one of my roommates, that I didn't understand this dog. I like him, I'd even go as far to say as love him, but at the time I didn't understand him.
So I've been praying that God helps me to understand my dog's needs so that he's not so deeply upset all the time.
I mean, this guy is an inspiration to me. Now I'm seeing this irritable, unhappy dog tugging at the other end of the leash, and barking full force and bearing his teeth right in the face of a girl on bended knee saying hello to him.
Well the good news is that today there was a breakthrough. I knew I'd have to pay a little more attention to him, and probably be a little more patient, courteous, and gentle.
I brought him in the bathroom because I thought he could use a bath. But I didn't want to force him into one. I patted the side of my tub and asked him if he wanted a bath. He stood there a little, then hopped in and licked my hand. He enjoyed the shower. Instead of having to hold him under the shower, he stood there on his own and even made sure his body got completely wet. He bent back his head and took a few drinks. It was wonderful to watch! He let me scrub him down, he turned to help me get to the places I hadn't reached yet.
I don't need to force my dog into things that he wants for himself anyway. He wants to be walked, he wants to be bathed, he wants to be taken care of and to get attention. But he doesn't want to be treated like just another responsibility. He is a companion, not a liability. And after all of this, I can say... I've learned yet another lesson from this amazing animal, and I have God to thank. :)