The responsibility of freedom comes with training

As you already know, I am in the process (and it is a process) of training Jackie, my rescued and adopted Boxer, to become a therapy dog to, hopefully, succeed Kelly in her volunteer work at a nursing home.

In addition to the traits she needs to develop in her therapy work, she needed to be trained to an invisible fence. Kelly had long ago been trained to respect an invisible fence, and I had forgotten the amount of training involved. Years before Kelly, I had put the fence in for another pet I had, and each time a new dog took up residence with me, even as a foster dog, the resident dog took over the training of the new addition.

It was interesting to watch but it did lead me into complacency about the training.

Then along came Jackie, and no resident dog to train her. I had to become her resident trainer. I flagged the perimeter of the area that would become hers and the training began. With the flags in place, we walked the perimeter repeatedly without putting the collar on. The collar has the receiver on it, and when she would get too close she would receive an uncomfortable and surprising yet not injurious electrical jolt.

The first time she got the correction was almost enough to make me quit training and see about putting in an actual fence. I sought some help, and was assured I was doing it correctly and finally put her collar on her. We returned to walking the fence line.

We did this for two or three weeks. Then, finally, I decided it was time to test her and see how we were progressing. So with her collar on, I removed her leash and gave her freedom. You could almost read her thoughts – freedom! Free at last! She turned on full power and took off for the run she had been longing for! She totally ripped across and around the back yard.

That done, it was time to go to the front of the house. Less room but still in a free area, she investigated every square inch of territory. But what did I really notice? Though I couldn’t keep up with her, I stayed in the area with leash in hand in case she needed to be brought back to safety. That was for my peace of mind.

What truly impressed me, though, was that she seemed to always be aware of where I was whether near or far away. I think I had become her security blanket. With me nearby, she felt safe and secure. When I asked her to come in, she was ready. Again, I think she is looking for security.

Then I started thinking maybe we Christians ought to pay more attention to our “security blanket” in the person of Jesus Christ. He not only watches us to be sure we are safe but carries the leash to lead us back if we stray. He is always with us – walking in front of us to lead the way, walking beside us for companionship and behind us so nothing slips up behind to hinder our walk with Him. At the end of life, He will be with us to carry us home in His loving arms.

What more could we want? Just be sure you have invited Him into your heart. Ever present and ever the gentleman, He will not force Himself on us but just waits for us to ask Him in. If you haven’t done so, there is no better time than now.