Housebreaking a dog is so much fun! NOT! I can’t begin to tell you how many times I placed newspapers on the floor, only to have our newly acquired puppy, Shotsie, shred the paper and “pee” on the floor. Since my husband was outside farming and our son was off to school, it was my privilege to train Shotsie.
The light brown, part border collie and part whatever, puppy had already won the heart our Tim. Unfortunately, Tim was gone most of the day. Call me idealistic or foolish, but I’d pictured a different scenario. In my mind’s eye, I saw a “Lassie-like” dog sleeping at the foot of Tim’s bed. I envisioned a rambunctious, little boy rollicking in the grass with this cute little puppy. I also imagined (hoped?) having a puppy would help teach Tim responsibility. Fat chance!
Shotsie was a handful. It isn’t that he was big, but he required a great deal of attention. My husband wasn’t crazy about having a dog to begin with, so I was determined he was going to fall in love with this dog. Tim had fallen in love with Shotsie. So had I, well . . .
After several days of collecting shredded paper and mopping the floor, I broke. I put the dog on the leash and put him outside the backdoor. Okay, I admit. It was cold outside. I guess I’m cold-hearted.
My very patience husband came home for the evening after working outside in the cold weather all day.
“Why is the dog outside?” He quizzed me.
“I’m so tired of picking up shredded paper and mopping the floor. I put him out,” exasperation was evident in my response.
“Well, it’s too cold for him to be outside,” he answered compassionately.
“Fine, you can pick up the paper and mop the floor.” I nearly spit out each word. I love dogs. I really do. But a person can only deal with so much.
This patience man, who didn’t want a dog, brought Shotsie into the backroom. He knelt down on the floor and carefully spread yet another layer of newspaper on the floor. Ron was making Shotsie’s personal space as comfortable as possible. He placed fresh food and water near the paper.
Shotsie, apparently recognized the kindness in this man. He straddled Ron’s leg. Ron suddenly felt something very warm and wet. Shotsie had peed all over Ron’s leg. Did I laugh? You bet I did!
We all have our breaking points. That was Ron’s. He grabbed the dog, not roughly, but firmly and announced, “That’s it! He’s an outside dog!” Shotsie became an outside dog, but he was a pampered dog. He had a nice doghouse and fresh straw.
Eventually, Shotsie became the inside dog we’d (Tim and me) really wanted. Ron grew to love Shotsie, too; after all, who couldn’t love a dog that followed you all over the eighty acre farm.
Shotsie learned to sit, beg, roll over and catch his treat. He never held a grudge and gave the three of us his unconditional love. He listened to our hurts and our anger. He nuzzled his nose under our arm, encouraging us to pet him. He loved us as much as we loved him.
It has been nearly seven years since Shotsie died. When I think of Shotsie and how he loved us, I often think that God loves us much the same way. God listens to our hurts, angers, disappointments. God grieves with us and our sins cause him grief. But God loves us conditionally.
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