A couple of years ago I lost my mind & adopted a bird dog from the lovely rescue group Paws In The City. I got him after I saw him at an adoption event outside the Pet Supplies Plus, in part because I loved his spotty coat. (And really, everyone comments on how pretty he is.) When my dog trainer Brad asked why I picked him & I said because he was pretty, Brad commented he hoped that wasn’t a criteria I applied in general in life – like to dating, for instance.
Well, yes, actually. Yes it is.
I say “my dog trainer” like I have Brad on retainer at my beck & call. I know Brad from a cool fellowship lunch we’ve both gone to for years, & I started out pre-Huck milking him for unpaid training advice for my stubborn but adorable English bulldogs. He is such a nice guy, & after I quickly realized I was so in over my head when I “rescued” a bird dog, I called him for help. Truthfully, without Brad’s training for both of us, Huck & I would be in need of some kind of mental health intervention. (Brad often says training the dogs is easy; it’s the humans that give him the most trouble, ha.)
But true to Brad’s early predictions, Huckleberry has now become a pretty solid citizen in both the human & dog community. With the exception of a couple of quirks.
I am fortunate enough to be able to leave the store for an hour or so most afternoons to take Huck out to expend some of his bird dog energy – to throw the ball or run around the dog park. And the dog park is, to put it mildly, entertaining. And just as often, annoying. Mostly the dogs are entertaining, not annoying – or if they are, we know who is to blame for that. It’s the people. The people are typically very nice, or else they are entertaining. Unless they are annoying. And the whole sheebang is just a tiny window on life, I’ve decided.
One day a couple of weeks ago was a prime example. A gorgeous fall day here – & trust me when I say we don’t get much fall here. Mostly I read at the dog park, while keeping an eye on Huck to make sure he’s behaving. But today my friend Julie & I happened to connect on the phone for the first time in a couple of weeks, so I was sitting by myself so as not to bug the other 3 or 4 people there, enjoying the afternoon. A guy with a lab & a ball launcher came in, & Huck went nuts for that. But the dog guy knew what he was doing so it was fine – he didn’t let any doggy dust-ups arise.
Then it all went downhill when an older woman with a barky Australian shepherd & a frisbee came in.
If Huck could talk, I’m certain one of his most used phrases would be, “What? A new toy???” Once the frisbee was loose, it was his.
He is really obedient to my command of “drop it” – unless there are other dogs around. The nice dog sitter/dog trainer lady who is a regular at the dog park intervened, but telling Huck to “give us the frisbee because it’s not yours” doesn’t have much effect on him. While I was watching all this, her Australian shepherd pooped 2 feet from me as his owner watched then walked off. The intervening dog sitter was still following Huck around talking conversationally to him while the frisbee woman was saying to her, “Well since the owner won’t do anything about this . . . “
Heeeyyyy now. I’m not the one who thought no other dogs would be interested when I brought a new toy TO THE DOG PARK. By now she had managed to grab the frisbee that was in Huck’s mouth & started tugging on it, for the love of Pete. Intervening dog sitter started saying, “Now that’s not a good idea.” I ended my call that I was so enjoying with Julie, & used my baggie to pick up the stinky poop that her dog left at my feet & walked toward them. I managed to tell her that Huck thinks she’s playing a game when she tries to take the frisbee from him – really, KNOCK KNOCK: looking for a little common sense here, ma’am.
When I told Huck to come, he trotted after me, frisbee firmly in teeth, happy happy happy, as Phil Robertson would say, & we exited the dog park while frisbee lady is yelling, “You’re stealing my frisbee!” I nodded yes, & told her I’ve just needed to get him out of the park so he would drop it. As soon as we got to the car he lost all interest & dropped the frisbee on the pavement. Of course.
I walked it back over to the fence & called to her until she heard me. As she walked over to retrieve the frisbee, in a spurt of small mindedness that I couldn’t seem to hold back, I pointed out that I picked up her dog’s poop, since she neglected to (rule #1 at the dog park, lady). I know. I know! That does not make me a winner in that situation. But it does typify so much of what makes human interaction a struggle sometimes.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV)
We all have some desire to be right, to be validated, to be heard. And in the thick of it, where we need it the most, it’s sometimes hard to remember what Chip Ingram says so eloquently, “Everyone acts in way that makes sense to them.” It makes perfect sense, I guess, to frisbee lady to bring that toy to the dog park with her dog. It makes perfect sense to Huck, I know, that she brought that frisbee so HE could play with it. And there are a lot of things that probably don’t make sense to anyone but me.
But really, it’s just okay. I don’t lose anything by letting someone else be right, or go ahead, or or turn in front of me, or the myriad of other things that make sense to someone else.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3 NKJV)
As I wrestled with my irritation with this situation, these are the 2 verses The Lord brought to my mind. It seems I need to practice walking them out more, huh?
I bet I’ll have some more opportunities at the dog park 😉