I owned a dog until the Unfortunate Event. For ten years, I loved and trained my little girl. She came to me and my wife as a puppy, found on the street, and passed along to my home for adoption. She looked like a terrier-schnauzer mix, but was really just a cute, smart street dog.
When she was little, I tried to keep her in a “dog run” on the side of the house to protect my newly landscaped yard. For such a small dog (about 10 pounds fully grown), she displayed Houdini-like skills scaling 4 foot high fences and penetrating a variety of makeshift barriers to take ownership of the entire backyard. Ultimately, I acquiesced to her desire to rule the yard, chew sprinklers, and chase squirrels.
In spite of the demand for a kingdom of her own, she displayed incredible loyalty — never straying far and always returning. Her faithfulness resulted in greater freedom to run without the restraint of a leash. I think her happiest moments were on long walks or runs. Off-leash, she would jump over drainage ditches, romp through bushes, and freely chase birds returning with a big dog-faced grin.
The Unfortunate Event happened when I took her out for a evening run. She was off-leash and running about 10 yards behind me. Just like a horror movie, I heard a yelp and she was gone. I searched for hours. When I called Animal Control, they said “coyote”. I took this to mean that she chose to leave and live among the coyotes. Since then, I’ve never owned a dog. It’s been a over five years.
Two dogs visited for Christmas this year.
I some ways, having dogs in the house is very familiar. In addition to the routine of walking, feeding, and caring, I set boundaries invoking my “alpha-dog” voice. But, visiting dogs are different. Visitors respect the alpha-dog out of fear, but show no loyalty. I am only a threatening voice offering to withhold punishment in return for compliance. While I still get obedience, I find no returning devotion because there is no love. Without love, the visitors merely offer a lukewarm response to my presence (Revelations 3:16). This too is unfortunate.