I sat on the edge of my seat, anticipating a knock on the door. I expected a black female Labrador Retriever named Iva, but I had no idea my life was about to take an incredible change.
My trainer knocked, and I opened the door with excitement. In walked a spunky dog, just as excited as I was.
Three weeks later, Iva and I graduated from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and flew home. A TSA agent escorted me to my husband at the airport. Breaking all the rules for a guide dog, Iva jumped up on my husband as if to say, “Hi Daddy, I’m here to take over.” And take over she did.
My husband and I had our own emotional battles. He had lost his younger brother a few months earlier, and he dreaded the upcoming holidays. My heart had never fully healed from the eight years my daughter refused to talk to me. When she did contact me, the relationship never felt the same.
Iva came into our lives and brought joy to a home that had lost most of its laughter.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Eva Blanco
1. Dogs Keep Us Laughing
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)
Does your canine fill the role of comedian? A day doesn’t go by that Iva doesn’t have us laughing over something silly. We have to spell the word “bath” in our home. When Iva hears it, she gets super excited. She runs throughout the house with an occasional jump for joy. Then she starts doing flips and rolling across the carpet. Something about getting a bath excites Iva, so we use caution with that word unless her mobile groomer is scheduled for that day.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter increases the endorphins that our brains release. These hormones reduce the emotions of depression, stress, and anxiety. Laughter can stimulate circulation and relax muscles which helps reduce tension. It can also improve our self-esteem.
2. Dogs Demonstrate Forgiveness
You can step on Iva’s foot, but don’t you dare step on her tail. Don’t even get close to it, or she will whirl around and give you a look that screams, “Back off!”.
However, dogs don’t hold grudges like we tend to do. Whenever Iva experiences a tail violation, a quick pet and a loving hug make it all better in seconds.
We can learn to be more like Christ when we forgive like our furry friends. Imagine if people could forgive like our dogs. We wouldn’t carry around resentment, and the sin of unforgiveness would never interfere with our fellowship with our heavenly Father. Unforgiveness would cease from blocking our answer to prayers.
3. Dogs are Possessive and Protective
You don’t have to own an aggressive dog to see their sense of protection. Since Iva is my guide dog, she protects me from walking out in front of traffic. Once again, a smile comes to my face when she leads me to the curb to keep me at a safe distance from a car that is still some distance away. She makes a great traffic dog.
Even small dogs with barks bigger than their bites feel possessive of their moms. Our fur babies love both mom and dad, but they crave all the attention, always wiggling their way in between us.
I can’t help but be reminded of the love of Jesus Christ when I experience Iva’s protective and possessive nature. We can’t grasp the protective hand of God. We have no way of knowing the many things He protects us from. The traffic jam that caused us to be late also prevented us from the accident. How many times has God shielded us from danger?
4. Dogs Give Unconditional Love
You have probably discovered that other than God, your dog is the only one who gives you unconditional love. They love to cuddle, catch a ball, or go for a walk. Whatever you decide to do, they want to be part of it.
Iva sits by my side all afternoon, but when she hears my husband’s car, she runs to meet him with a wagging tail and kisses. Once again, that is just like God.
He craves our fellowship, but we get involved in our busy schedules, leaving little time for God. Despite that, God and our dogs still love us.
Let your canine friend become your reminder to pray. Our dogs don’t care what we do; they keep on loving us, just like God. We forget to feed them. That’s okay. We take them for a walk in the rain. It’s not Iva’s preference, but she doesn’t complain. We come home later than usual. It’s still okay.
Just like God, our dogs offer grace upon grace.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/barkernotbaker
5. The Good Outweighs the Bad
If you’ve read this far, you must be a dog mom, and you also recognize the sound of your dog when his or her tummy gets upset. It often happens in the middle of the night. Your perfect night’s sleep gets interrupted with a rude awakening.
As dogs age, just like people, they need to go to the bathroom more often. You wake up to a wet nose giving you kisses and desperate whines. Like the mail delivery person, no matter what the weather is doing, we fulfill our job, faithfully taking our fur babies out.
Then there’s all that dog hair. When I came home with Iva, a black Lab, I decided to buy all my new clothes in black. I soon decided I needed more color in my wardrobe and I began to view dog hair as a fashion accessory and not a nuisance. It goes with the territory.
When we look at how happy our dogs make us and what wonderful, faithful companions they are, we can never complain about interrupted sleep, accidents to clean up, or a few dog hairs on our Sunday best.
It’s just like life. We learn to take the bad with the good, and the good outweighs the bad. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome and said,
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18 NIV)
Jesus told us that in this world, we will have tribulation (John 16:33). However, we have a better life to look forward to. We will experience some of God’s blessings in this life, but they cannot be compared to the blessings to come.
As dog moms, we can overlook those momentary inconveniences and agree that having our loving companions is worth every second of it.
6. Treat Time!
What dog doesn’t love a treat? As the excitement builds and the tail wags the entire body, our fur babies wait with eager anticipation for a treat. Seeing their joy puts one more smile on our faces.
I wonder if that’s how God feels when He gives us those special blessings. I believe God enjoys blessing us far more than we can imagine, just as we appreciate our pup’s fondness for a treat.
I believe your best friend is waiting for that special treat right now, and he or she certainly deserves it. Dog moms encompass a blessed group of people. We have received one of the greatest gifts a human can receive – a dog.
Originally published Wednesday, 25 May 2022.