What Dogs Teach Us About Loyalty

loyal dogs

most loyal dogAfter leading one of his many battles Napoleon Bonaparte stood and analyzed the battlefield; what he saw stayed with him for the rest of his life. A battle-hardened soldier from his early 20′s, Napoleon was moved by witnessing the loyalty of a dog to one of his fallen soldiers.
 
He wrote:
 
“This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.”

Most Loyal Dog
Loyal Dogs

Our pets often teach us the meaning of true loyalty and faithfulness. When everyone else is gone they tend to stay by our sides in life and even in death.

Most Loyal Dog
Dog Loyalty

It is more than just a connection to the one who has provided food for them. It is the sense of comfort they felt by our attention that is reciprocated. Many of us loyal dog stories can remember times when we have been very sick and it was our animals that seemed to have a deep sense of empathy and stayed by our side though they could do nothing medically to treat us. But, they did what they could, and they stayed with us as guardians and companions. I often think that if Jesus had a dog with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane He would not have been alone while the ones He had asked to watch and pray with Him fell asleep. I also believe that when all abandoned Jesus on the cross, His pet would have been there if only to be with its companion.

Most Loyal Dog
Loyal Dogs

The scriptures tell us, “For since the creation of the world His invisible loyal dog attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,” (Romans 1:20) One of those wonderful attributes is loyalty, modeled to us by our faithful pets.
 

“Can Do” Attitudes

Dog Swimming with Tree

Dog Swimming with TreeAnimals seem to have a “can do” attitude before they have a “can’t do” one. This picture, though a bit comical, makes me think of the many things my dogs try without wondering if they can do it or not. They are willing to put forth the effort before they discover they are not able to do something. On the other hand, I have observed many people who believe they can’t do something without any attempt to discover if they can. Animals will try more than once without success, and often keep at it. Humans, all too often, make one attempt at something and conclude ultimate failure. This picture is a great reminder and encouragement to strive for things, and not just settle. Sure, it is easier in this world to go for the average because there is less of a chance of failure, but that only insures the absence of great successes. And yes, there are times we can bite off more than we can chew, but great victories come from embracing great challenges. That is why the Bible story of David defeating mighty Goliath is so inspiring (1 Samuel 17:31-49).

When others stood on the sidelines complaining, whining, and fearing, young David stepped out and accepted the challenge. Underage, undersized, under-experienced in battle with swords and spears, it says he ran quickly toward the battle line. When others were content to accept defeat, David accepted the challenge.

This is never to say that we will defeat all our challenges, but my dogs have taught me that my failures do not have to defeat my attitude. My dogs don’t mope around after failing some challenge. They seem to become that much more determined, and never lose their enthusiasm. Maybe it was from his pets that Abraham Lincoln learned and later wrote, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

 

Spoon Full of Sugar

Dog Stretched Across Tub

Dog Stretched Across TubWhen I first saw this picture I laughed because I could so easily relate to the dog. There are so many times that there are things that I must do but that I don’t like. Avoidance and procrastination are my usual tactics, and they allow me to put off what needs to be done. I say all this because it was my dog Bailey that inadvertently reminded me of a valuable lesson. You see, Bailey hates water as well, and despises rain. She hates going outside if it means she will get wet.
 
While pondering what I should do I was reminded what I had learned from the Disney movie “Mary Poppins.” In it Julie Andrews sings a song “A Spoon Full of Sugar” and the lyrics remind us “in every job thatmust be done there is an element of fun.” The result is the fun aspect, which represents the sugar, makes the rest of the task, the medicine, less intolerable. Bailey now likes rain and baths because she knows she will get a special treat if she cooperates.
 
There is a lesson in this for people as well. Finding the sugar in every task is the key, something that makes the rest of the task tolerable. If we don’t…., like that dog, we will ever remain stuck with necessary things undone. Time to jump right in and find the joy in the moment, the sugar that makes the less pleasant parts of life more enjoyable

Who Rescues Whom?

Who Rescues Whom

Who Rescues WhomEveryday animal shelters are looking for people to come and rescue dogs and cats who have no home. As one walks down the rows of pens and cages we see behind the bars and chain link fences dark glistening eyes that appear to long for release from their captivity. However, more often than we realize the view from the animal’s perspective sees people on the other side of the bars just as forlorn, lost, and lonely. The humans too need to be rescued and find their rescuer in the embrace of the life they have found. Each finds freedom from captivity, one from the metal bars or fence, the other from a cell of fear, loneliness, and hurt. Together they have rescued each other.

A Warm Heart and Cold Nose Cure For Depression

how animals help people

service dog for depressionAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the company of a pet can help people who are living with depression. Maybe it’s because cats, dogs and other companion creatures offer unlimited affection and nonjudgmental companionship. They lift our spirits and lower our stress. They counteract symptoms such as isolation, rumination and lethargy.
 
“All people report feeling less lonely in the presence of animals – even birds,” says Alan Beck, director of the Center for Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Bird giving affection Indiana. “Animals are good for everyone, but particularly for anxious and depressed people. For one thing, pets keep us anchored in the present and distract us from the negative or anxious thoughts, says Beck. “If you can focus on the present in positive ways, it makes you less anxious,” he says. “Much anxiety and depression comes from the thoughts of the past or worries about the future.”
 
Caring for the needs of another creature in the present bolsters our self-esteem and provides purpose and a sense of being needed.

Homeless Man and Dog
How can Animals Help People

Jennifer P. Wisdom, PhD, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and her colleagues surveyed 177 animals help depressionindividuals with mental illness to determine what factors affect the recovery process. For pet owners, the researchers concluded, companion animals not only boost self-esteem, but also provide empathy, initiate social encounters and serve as substitute or additional family members.
 
Scientists are still trying to figure out why animals affect us so powerfully. It may be that communing with a pet exercises our emotional muscles, so to speak. Many pet owners speak of the unconditional love their pets help for depressionshower so generously upon them – the cat purring on their lap, the dog that enthusiastically bounds to meet them at the door even if they’re returning from a five-minute errand. Nothing can compete with these natural cheerleaders. If everything else seems to be against us, their presence affirms that they are for us.
 

Do Animals Understand Human Affection?

Horse giving affection

Animal giving affectionThe question was posed as to whether or not animals understand how humans show affection. Do they really thrive off of the contact we give and the love talk we speak towards them? This is just one of the many responses given. “I have a crippled cockatoo that is just like Velcro… (I love every minute of it!) and I carry him around a lot with one arm just like you would a baby. He loves it. I take him everywhere with me… shopping, feeding ducks, and everywhere else you can imagine!Bird giving affection He will ‘holler’ at certain people that he WANTS to meet! He has a very eclectic taste in people, and little kids are his favorite, so it can get kind of exciting around us sometimes! Anyway, he gives the best loving hugs that you could ever ask for! He snuggles in to my neck and his beak heats up and he will grab my shirt and won’t let go if I try to pull him away! He loves hugging, and yes you can hug a bird. I would bet my soul on the fact that animals do indeed understand human affection.It’s funny how they seem to teach us the most loving way to show it though?”Kid Hugging Dog The responses that were given overwhelmingly seem to affirm a common sense that animals know the meaning behind human affection. And yes, I too believe that animals respond to human affection and that they even cherish the sense of comfort and peace that comes with it. What do you think? Maybe I should put it another way. What do you feel?

 

Friends in High Places

German shepherd and deer in police car

German shepherd and deer in police carIf there was a caption that fit this moment, it might make reference to having friends in high places. The fact that this deer is in a patrol car along with a police dog, would make one wonder what had transpired to get this deer in the predicament. However, there have been times in my own life through my own stupid choices, I have ended up in situations that needed an advocate, someone who was willing to come into the midst of my mess and stay along side giving support.
 
The amazing thing is that the picture is a wonderful illustration of the meaning of Easter. The message is simple. God came into our world filled with the results of our sins and wrong choices and became our advocate. He didn’t stay outside of our confinement, but came right where we are and came bringing peace and not hostility. Sometimes it takes pictures like this to remind us of the deep but simple truths. God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. Hebrews 13:5 The promise to not forsake is powerful because we live in a world where so many through compromise, run from responsibility, which in itself is a huge component of love.
 
Forsake means to abandon, renounce or give up, and since the scriptures teach us that love never fails, it also implies that it never gives up. That is why loyalty is another aspect of love. Maybe this picture is the beginning of an Easter thought that should be meditated upon. If you feel vulnerable, trapped, and do not know what to do next, remember who is with you. He has never, and will never, leave you.

Would You Help?

Dog in the Rain

Dog in the RainAll too often, this picture depicts what happens in the lives of people as well as animals. Caught in a deluge of difficulty and feeling abandoned, we can sit waiting and wondering what is next. The caption to this photo read, “Would you help?” For most loving, compassionate people, the answer would be a definite “Yes!” For the dog, there is the immediate need for someone to rescue it by providing a place out of the downpour—a haven that is stable and secure. That is exactly what Noah did when he built the ark for the animals and his own family.

Like that dog, I soon found myself at the mercy of all the harsh elements life could bring upon me. The phrase “raining on my parade” had come to have a very personal meaning. In the midst of such turmoil, I was forced to find answers to the tough questions few are willing to ask. I needed to know if there was more to life than just being a product of chance and luck. Was there a designer behind the incredible organization my senses experienced every day? Without being preachy, the answer for me was obvious. After asking serious questions, I was convinced that God is a rescuer of people from the onslaughts that evil inflicts.

As the Psalmist wrote, “God is to us a God of deliverances; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death” (New American Standard Version, Psalm 68:20) In fact, I believe the heart that is drawn to love and help animals in need is expressing a residual love left there from the One who designed us in His image. Yes, there is much that is flawed in this world, but, like a great painting that has been defaced, we can either add to the problem like vandals or be busy working to restore.

Waterin’ Hole

cowboy and dog

cowboy and dogAn old cowboy was riding his trusty horse followed by his faithful dog along an unfamiliar road. The cowboy was enjoying the new scenery, when he suddenly remembered dying, and realized the dog beside him had been dead for years, as had his horse. Confused, he wondered what was happening, and where the trail was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, the wall had a tall arch topped by a golden letter “H” that glowed in the sunlight.

Standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like gold.

He rode toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. Parched and tired out by his journey, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.

‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.’

As the gate began to open, the cowboy asked, ‘Can I bring my partners, too?’

‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The cowboy thought for a moment, then turned back to the road and continued riding, his dog trotting by his side.

After another long ride, at the top of another hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a ranch gate that looked as if it had never been closed. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

‘Excuse me,’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Sure, there’s a pump right over there. Help yourself.’

‘How about my friends here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog and his horse.

‘Of course! They look thirsty, too,’ said the man.

The trio went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with buckets beside it. The traveler filled a cup and the buckets with wonderfully cool water and took a long drink, as did his horse and dog.

When they were full, he walked back to the man who was still standing by the tree. ‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked.

‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘That’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold street and fake pearly gates? That’s hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you angry when they use your name like that?’

‘Not at all. Actually, we’re happy they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.’