Dog Training Teaches Owner about the Meaning of Freedom

The kids and I enjoyed taking our new puppy to a vacant field in the neighborhood to romp and play. When she was young, she was eager to please and always responded to my commands. I was able to teach her a lot of tricks. I could get her to play dead and she would go rigid on the floor and not come back to life until I gave her a perky “finished” command.

But she had a few nasty habits I couldn’t seem to break her of, like running over people if they were lying on the floor or on the couch. She would run right over your face. Sometimes she would growl at you when you fed her. She even had a strange look in her eyes.

Friends and relatives began making offers that were rather sinister with respect to my beloved pet.

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As she grew larger, she was difficult for me to control on a walk even with a leash. When she would see a cat, she pulled so hard that the leash often slid right out of my hand. I had to wear leather gloves to keep a firm grip on the leash and to keep it from burning my hands when it slid.

Soon, Zelda no longer obeyed any command to come to me, and so she no longer got to run and romp in the field. I depended on my strong son to control her, but I knew that his time was limited and I needed to control her myself.

So a few months ago, I determined to sacrifice the considerable time it would take to train her well. I was very, very busy at the time, but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to keep my pet. The training was gradual, but, most important, it was daily.

At first, I would teach her one small thing and then another and another. As she responded well to the consistency, I slowly gave her more and more freedom. Within a month, I was able to let her off her leash to wander the field. She always came back when I called.

Within two months, I could walk her through the neighborhood off the leash and have her walking by my side. Even when she saw a cat, she didn’t leave my side. I no longer had to wear leather gloves when I took her for a walk.

Watching her again romp and play in the field, I marveled at the clear illustration in front of me. Follow the rules and you can be free. Follow the rules and you can be happy. Follow the rules and you can be with the ones you love.

How different this is from what modern society teaches. Today we teach our young people to throw off the rules in order to be free. Film and popular culture especially glorify those who “don’t follow the rules.” Yet it is precisely those rules that set us free.

Today, as I let my dog wander the field exploring where she likes, I realize that God enjoys doing the same for us. Just as I take pleasure in watching my dog discover a rabbit hole, God takes pleasure in seeing us discover a rainbow.

Sometimes all I have to do is turn a loving gaze on my dog, and she will come running before I call her. How that thrills me. How much more must God be thrilled when we come running to Him. And His loving gaze is always upon us.

Because my dog is now obedient, she gets to be with me a lot more.

Like our pets, we can know the rules too. They are written on our hearts. When we follow these rules, we will be free to romp and play and, best of all, we will get to be with the ones we love. Not to mention we’ll be walking with God.

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