Monday, June 11, 2012

Dog Race!

I wrote recently about dogs (and Thundershirts), so I am reticent to begin yet another "dog blog."  Then I thought there is nothing people like more than DOGS.  OK, maybe they like babies just a little bit more, but then again, you don't have to pay for dogs to go to college when they grow up.  And I don't have a baby story.
So, DOGS it is.

Recently, there was a story in the news about a dog race.  Not the greyhound-'round-the-track type, but an All American Mutt Race, where ordinary, homely people enter their ordinary, homely pound puppies into a contest to see who has the fastest dog.  The newscaster interviewed the owner of the winning dog, who could barely get a word in since her dog kept trying to lick her face during the interview.  Still, you could tell she was proud of her pup.  He was the fastest!

However, if you've ever seen one of these races, you know the dog that wins is not necessarily the fastest. The winning dog is the one who obeys the command, "Come!"  Your whippet might rival Speedy Gonzalez for the land speed record, but if she ignores you like a goldfish, she won't get the blue ribbon.
See, how it works is: Dog owners stand about 10 yards away from their dogs who are being held in place by someone else.  The whistle blows.  All the owners begin calling their dogs.  Frantically.  Earnestly. POINTLESSLY.
Once released, the dogs immediately turn to eachother, and begin sniffing noses, butts, tails, and ears.  Then, a few sit down and lick places that should really be left to the imagination.  Some tear off in a totally random direction as though they just caught wind of a beef flank.  A few just sit and wag.  So in reality, the "race" looks like this:
Pack of frolicking frantic furballs having a "Sniff Fest" on the one yard line.
Pack of peppy, palm pounding people having a "Scream Fest" on the 10 yard line.  They try it all - lowering and raising their voice, slapping their hands on their laps, clapping, whistling - desperately trying to get Rover to come over.
Eventually, a few dogs, bored with the licking and not able to find a squirrel to their liking, will saunter toward their owners.  Soon, one, (usually a firstborn, private school border collie type) will see its owner and sprint over.  WINNER!  Good boy!  Way to go!  You are soooo fast once you stop licking yourself! 
The race is so much fun to watch.  It's like recess for AKC rejects.  Of course, my dogs, would do so much better.  All 3 would probably win in unison.  They are perfect little listeners.  Models of obedience.  Yeah, right. If you believe that, you don't have dogs.  If you have cats, you understand.  One of my favorite quotes is "Dogs have owners.  Cats have staff."  Well, dogs might have owners, but that doesn't mean they are obedient to them.  Ownership means nothing to a dog.  This is why Walmart is filled with 14 different types of Snausages.  We all need a nice cheesy, bacon flavored doggy bribe for those moments when Muffy is being, well...Muffy.
Muffy (Not my dog)
Come? Really?  You can't be serious.
I am warm.  This couch is soft.  If I come, I will have to move and then I will no longer be warm.  Leave me alone. Go bug someone else. 
Is that...Bacon?
Here I am!

The dog race reminded me of my relationship with God.  God is on one end, the 10 yard line, calling me.  I am on the other end ignoring Him.  OK, I am not doing gross dog things, but I am doing gross human things at times.  I am being selfish, angry, wasteful, arcastic, prideful...being ME.
Sometimes God gently calls me to come.  Then there are times I've noticed he has stepped it up a little, maybe started clapping or tapping his palms on his thighs.  Come here!  Come here!  I have to work to ignore him at this point.  It is my pride or selfishness that usually gets in the way. 
Wait a minute God, I don't want to do that.  I'm tired.  I need time for myself.  I don't want to be around that person.  I would rather not go there, I am comfortable here.  Like a child, I put my fingers in my ears and begin the bratty "nah nah nah nah nah" refrain heard on every childhood playground.
So, God tries a little harder to reach me.  The "Hound of Heaven" as poet Francis Thompson described Him, begins hounding this hound.  He is not giving up after a few finger whistles and hearty "Comeers!" His voice is barely audible.  That certain verse that keeps popping up.  The words of my pastor.  Some comment at Bible Study.  I might take a few steps closer and then, "What was that?  Did I smell bacon?"  And just like that I am off and running, but in the wrong direction.  For me "bacon" is what I want.  What I want to do.  What I love, crave, enjoy, seek and obsess over.  Like the Snausages commercial, "Dogs love BACON!" (Insert dog sniffing snout into the camera.) My commercial would say, "Hope loves HOPE! Give Hope what HOPE wants today!"  (Do NOT insert my snout into the camera.) While I am off chasing bacon, God keeps calling.
Finally, usually with an injured paw, a belly way too full of bacon and an empty heart, I stumble closer to God.  I am not quite there yet, maybe at like the 8 yard line.  Then God usually does one of two things.  He reaches out the rest of the way and grabs me or some other lumbering pooch comes along and knocks me right into Him.  You know the type God uses?  They aren't always Christians.  Some are just people along the journey who God uses to nudge or knock me along.  They'll say something or do something that literally grabs me by the collar and drags me to God.  Usually, they show extraordinary love at just the right time.  Love that I know is coming from my Owner, even though I am doing my best to ignore Him.
So there I am, finally in God's arms. Winner!  In His mercy and kindess, he doesn't chastise me for taking 3 days to run 10 yards.  His grace welcomes me like the prodigal puppy I am.  The sad part is, I would be far worse for the wear had I just run straight to Him.  My paw pads would not be as worn down, my fur would not be in such desperate need of a bath (that's what happens when you roll in dead stuff), my eyes wouldn't have so much tear goop, if I had just "Come!" in the first place.  Thankfully God is not just my Owner, he's my Groomer.

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