Monday, August 20, 2007

Life Lessons From my Dog(s)

I'm inserting my two cents here because it's my blog and I can. Many of you are saying, "Huh, how come Cecil posts all the stuff?" Answer: 1.)Because I have created a monster and he can't stop writing. When I first approached him with the blog idea he shook his head, sighed, and responded, "Oh, I don't know, it's a lot of work. You have to be on it constantly. It's very time consuming. Are you sure you can handle all the writing and monitoring it will take?" My chirpy answer: "Oh yes, I can do it." The result is pretty evident. 2.)Because I work three days a week. Refer to answer #1. Plus I get to edit every word he writes.

That having been said, I am working on a post taken from one of my very favorite stories from the Book of Mormon, involving the great military leader Moroni. With my schedule it will probably take the better part of this week. Meanwhile, Cec is busy pecking away at the keyboard, ever vigilant and ever aware of Satan's fiery darts, which continue to rain down on us from diverse locations both from within and without our beloved church.

God bless


Life Lessons From my Dog(s)

Now don’t go and breathe a sigh of relief because you think I’m not going all serious on you. I may; or I may not. It depends on you and your relationship with animals. We take our critters very seriously. If you don’t believe it, take a look at our vet bills. Or, ask Jan how many times we have been away from our home together for more than five or six hours and left the gang on their own.

Our furry family consists of two dogs and three cats. All were secured from rescue facilities. Let’s hear a word of praise here for those who operate those shelters without any appreciable reward other than the satisfaction of rendering a service to some of God’s creatures. Each animal has an individual personality but have demonstrated a remarkable collective sense of unity as well. With little training, they eat only from their assigned bowls but share common water sources. Although not specifically trained to do so, each has mastered the art of relaxation. As a result, visitors and residents alike must take care where they sit and where they walk. In the past, we have tried to provide sleeping areas for each and found they prefer to pick their own. At bedtime, they graciously allow us to use the bedroom as well.

The reigning queen of our group is a delightful yellow Lab named Ashley. At eight years, she has lost some of the raucous enthusiasm so typical of the breed. Her desire to please has not lessened one iota in that time, but probably increased. She has a competent understanding and readiness to obey the basic commands which render a dog useful and pleasant. She has not been trained to perform useless tricks which emulate human behavior. One of her most valuable services, since we live in an isolated rural setting, is to provide a barrier between the wild and the domestic. She is adept at recognizing threats to our domestic tranquility whether they are from other animals or humans. Even though somewhat overweight, she has the capacity to convince stray cattle to find greener pastures. The largest group she faced numbered twenty-five. She limited their visit to about three minutes. For older readers I submit that Albert Payson Terhune could easily have cast her in his magnificent stories of dog heroics.

The “clown” prince of her court is a two year old Brussels Griffon/Shitzu named Gus. This guy, at fourteen pounds, has the heart of a lion and serves as our early warning system. He can hear/smell an armadillo or wild turkey at 200 yds. and raise an incredible ruckus. I do believe he came with an abbreviated learning curve but he continues to show promise. If that were not enough, he is incredibly cute. If you ever visit, he will convince you that you are the most important being on the planet. He never met a stranger he didn't like unless the stranger was driving a noisy vehicle.

The cats are cats. They allow us to live here.

Now you have some background so we may proceed to what I have learned from these unique creatures.

There is an old prayer that goes like this: “God, please make me the man my dog thinks I am.” Given my experience over the years with various dogs I find it easy to relate. They come closest to showing me the meaning of unconditional love of any living being. Their obedience, trust, faith and general forgiveness is exemplary. When it comes to my Heavenly Father, can I match them? Unlike many of us, they don’t just talk a good game, they live it. When I step on one in the hall, the attitude is: forgive me for being in the way.

When I speak, they listen and do their very best to carry out my every command. They present no objections or excuses. They are totally committed. When asked to do the impossible (remember twenty-five head of stray cattle) there is no hesitation. When I lived in Wisconsin, my neighbor had a pit bull mix named Charlie. While walking the dogs together one day by the Rubicon River, Dave commanded Charlie to retrieve what he called a “stick.” It was actually a free floating log about twenty feet long and six inches through. Charlie did not hesitate but threw himself into the water, grabbed the log in his mouth, and proceeded to wrestle it toward the shore. He had received his commission and was carrying it out. I truly believe he would have continued his struggle to death had Dave not called him back. I also believe that this is the type of fulfillment of His commandments which the Lord requires of all of us.

Last January at the tail end of the “Ice Storm Experience” we topped off the eleven days without any services (electricity, water, heat, phone, etc.) with a good old fashioned bout of the flu. My dog Ashley never left my side. She was there to comfort me, provide heat and companionship and guard over my vulnerability. Since I was busy trying to stay alive, I am sure I didn’t pay much attention or play with her. She did not become impatient because my entire focus was not on her. She waited, and when I recovered we had a high old time. She recognized that I had other matters to deal with that did not pertain to her. She did not abandon me because I couldn’t get things done in her time frame. Even Gus calmed down and became willing to wait things out. Are we as patient with our Master? Are we guilty of wanting Him to drop everything to see to our needs?

Some may see these comparisons as facetious. Some may think them trivializing our faith. I would rather search for the example of my pets and follow as best I can. I really do want to be the man my dog thinks I am. Good girl! Sit! Stay.

Cecil Moon

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