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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bark is Worse than His/Her Bite (10/17/13)

TITLE: Charlie's Growling
By Jesse L. Smith


Charlie burst through the front door and began spinning with excitement while violently knocking furniture around in his chaotic path. My family hadn't owned a dog in years – and Charlie wasn’t the best icebreaker for us. A Great Dane and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix (dogs they use to hunt lions with in South Africa), this mammoth of a dog looked like a miniature horse galloping around with a saliva trail dripping in its wake. My sister stepped in calming the monster down saying, “Ohhhh good Charlie, be good now… “ and told us, “He's just a big puppy.” Charlie was ‘house trained’ and needed a host family to take care of him while my sister went on a backpacking trip across Europe. My sister assured us that Charlie got along very well with all her housemates at college, but there was one minor issue that would make his stay with us a little different – he hates men.

My dad grew up with dogs and was more than confident he could be friends with the animal in no time. I however was a stranger to canine psychology and was only familiar with cats, all I knew was “pet cats, and pat dogs” - or so I heard anyway. My dad’s approach to winning Charlie over was to arm himself with an arsenal of doggie treats, but mine was play. Of course, I really didn’t know how to play with a giant dog that hates men – or any dog for that matter. Later that evening I attempted to initiate play using a method that usually worked with cats while Charlie sat at the end of a long hallway. From my room in the hall I spied around the corner at Charlie until making eye contact – and Charlie whipped around to meet my stare with great interest. I quickly withdrew myself before slowly looking around the corner again to meet Charlie’s widened eyes… who then gave me an intense guttural growl that let me know my approach was all bad.

At about 3 AM the next morning I awoke to heavy breathing on my face – and realized as I stared into the darkness that Charlie was staring me down! As my eyes focused he released a furious growl that made me think my head was in danger of immediate removal. Suddenly I thought staring at Charlie was probably a bad idea – so I closed my eyes and woke the next morning with my head still intact! As the weeks passed Charlie eventually warmed up when he realized my intentions were playful, and that he had a worthy opponent in the wrestling matches he would constantly initiate. It was a little scary wrestling the giant considering our first meeting, but I soon discovered that my sister’s words were true – he really was just a big puppy on the inside.

In order for me to get to know Charlie I had to look beyond the foreboding exterior and see the puppy he really was on the inside. It was particularly hard for me to see him as a puppy because of the way he responded to me as a man. Something about his experience with men in the past gave him a certain perception about them that wasn’t going to be healed overnight. It was necessary for me to be patient and careful with Charlie in order to build a relationship of trust. Just like Charlie, the people we are on the inside can be very different from the image we portray to the world. Without realizing it, we all have defense mechanisms that affect our behavior around others when we feel threatened or insecure.

In order to have peace in the world and among ourselves, we need to be willing to look past the defense mechanisms that characterize so much of our behavior. Some of those defense mechanisms can be violent and even dangerous – as demonstrated by Charlie’s growling. The inside of a person however is always more important than the outside – and God is always interested in Redemption. Jesus looked at the same people who would eventually crucify Him with compassion, “because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” –Matthew 9:36 Jesus laid down His life for you and I because he loved our souls, and saw how lost we were on the inside. The condition of our souls never justifies our behavior, but Jesus became our example of how to love anyway.

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This article has been read 240 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Rose Hudson10/25/13
That was a beautiful reminder, and a great picture of an important truth. And, I'm glad you got to know Charlie!
C D Swanson 10/26/13
Thank you for this tender story. Your segue into the closing and important scripture, was powerful.

I really enjoyed the "voice and tone" on this entry, and it touched my heart.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/27/13
This is a nice devotion. I like how you started with a real life story that everyone could relate to.

I've noticed this quarter that a lot of people are taking the topics literally, thus resulting in quite a few dog stories. On the message board there is a thread called Jan's Writing Basics. She does a wonderful job of helping all levels of writers.

Your transition to your Biblical message was seamless. You made an excellent point without coming off as too preachy. I totally enjoyed this rambunctious dog. I feel like I understand him. Great writing.
C D Swanson 10/31/13
Congratulations! God bless~