Changes, and the search for a successor dog


As my regular readers already know, I’ve been on a search for a successor dog for Kelly to team with me as a volunteer dog therapy team picking up our work of several years.

Three months to the day from Kelly’s departure, I adopted Jackie, a boxer, from the humane society. She was all I had asked for – calm, loving, well-mannered, almost completely housebroken and knew several basic commands.

Did I say loving? Though she happily accepted petting from my roommate, she was definitely my dog. Perhaps more accurately, I was her person. Wherever I went, she would find a comfortable place to lie, usually very close to my feet, and settle in.

But she needed more outdoor exercise time than I was providing. An invisible fence was already in place, so I flagged the perimeter, fitted Jackie with the collar and started the training.

Something didn’t go as planned. She got too close and got zapped. Even when we moved to what I thought to be s safe distance away, she was still getting the signal. Well, that training session was over! After that, I couldn’t get her to go near that part of the lawn even without the collar.

I contacted the man who had installed the fence. Yes, he would help. Fast forward several days. He knocked at the back door. I paused long enough to put Jackie’s leash on and we stepped out. By then, my help was already near his pickup but he came back.

Jackie instantaneously turned into an F-5 tornado of energy on the end of the leash. No matter what I did, no matter what my helper did, she would not be calmed! Hey! Where did that calm, loving, well-mannered animal go?

Rick was here for a good 20 minutes or more and Jackie never took a breath without growling. Now this man knows dogs. He tried everything. He even cautiously placed himself in danger, I thought. But Jackie would not be calmed at all.

Rick finally said he thought she was in protective mode – protective of me and of the property. He thought maybe it was set off by the knock on the door. But, who knows?

I thought it through the rest of the evening – she obviously cannot meet the criteria for a therapy dog. Keeping her as a pet only wouldn’t work either. What would happen when she was outside and the truck backed in for gas delivery? Or the one who takes care of plumbing, heating and air conditioning? Or anyone else she wasn’t accustomed to?

No, though the decision was hard, it had to be made. Later this morning, I will take her back with regrets on both our parts, I’m sure. She could have had a safe, happy, satisfying life here, but her behavior tells me otherwise.

It makes me think of people – you and me. Though we could have a satisfying life in the midst of God’s love, we choose to be independent, self-serving and, yes, sometimes even growling people! Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-4), and if He has that confidence in us, why can’t we just trust Him more? Knowing that His plan is way better than ours.