There are thousands of reasons why Dogs are man’s best friends. One of the reasons I love my dogs so much is because they are continual analogies for God’s love. By shifting perspectives between my dogs and myself I get a slight glimpse of the love that God has for his creatures and especially those made in His very own image, humans. When I say “my dogs” I should really say my parent’s dogs, but over the past 11 years I’ve loved them as if they were solely mine and I’ve shared in the responsibility of caring for them, though not as much as I promised I would when I was younger. We have two Lakeland terriers, Albert “the Good” is blue but really he’s grey and Logan “the Bad” is jet black. My dad is the one who so lovingly refers to them as “the good” and “the bad” and as their nicknames suggest, one is better behaved than the other.
Albert was bred to be a championship show dog, his father was a stud and Albert was supposed to follow closely in his paw prints. Due to some special parts of his anatomy not “dropping” he had to be irrevocably fixed and disqualified from dog shows. So we ended up buying this pure bred and shipping him up from Texas. He was a real answer to my dad’s prayers because “blue” (grey) Lakelands are pretty rare. When we first got him, he was the best behaved dog I had ever seen. He would greet you at the door without barking, he wouldn’t beg or even eat people food, he would sit and stay, and you could even walk him without a leash. Logan, is different.
We got Logan as a rescue. His owner had a stroke and could no longer take care of him. Loge used to live primarily as an outdoor dog and he really acted like it. He is not a thorough bred, he doesn’t have the qualifications of Albert, his ears can’t decide if they want to be up or down, he’s got a weird curvy back, his tail has a distinct crook in it three quarters of the way up, and his doggie junk is curved so that when he pees is shoots backwards hahaha he is just a backwards dog all together.
Although Logie is pretty much the exact opposite of Albert “the Good”, if I’m being honest, I probably care for Logie more. Maybe that’s really mean to say, but it’s true. Why do I love Loge more if he requires so much more effort? I mean this guy finds dead maggot-ie birds and will roll on them until someone yanks him off of it. He freaks out for like 4 hours leading up to a storm, then throughout the storm and for 2 more hours afterwards. So why is he more loved? Well Logan is always “underfoot” to quote my mom. He’s always there, he always wants to be by me. He follows me everywhere.
I’m about to personify my dogs way too much but it’s ok because I just admitted it. Logan wants to spend time with me and know me, he is a friend. I love Albert, I really do, but Albert isn’t wired the same as Loge. Al is cool being aloof. He just tries to be a good dog and keeps his distance for the most part, he is good being on the couch with you but not snuggled up like Logie does.
When I read the Bible I see the same thing play out between the Pharisees and the Disciples. The Pharisees are the rule keepers, they go above and beyond, even adding extra laws and commandments just to be safe. The Disciples are more of the rag tag group of misfits and broken toys. Throughout the Gospels we can see how they bumble and fumble around and we even read of their broken pasts but they stay close to Jesus. They want to know him. They live with him, eat with him, travel with him. The Pharisees, who seem to be so holy and righteous, keep their distance and even condemn and judge Jesus and in so doing they not only missed their messiah, the one whom their prophets and Fathers told them about, they even murdered him!
God gives us commands, shalts and shalt nots, for our benefit and our joy but the Pharisees acted like Albert, they tried to just hunker down and keep the commands as if they were the end goal. When they do this they miss out on the real point, God gave commands to protect us and to reveal Himself to us so that we would know Him more, love Him rightly and spend more time with Him. People buy dogs not because they want someone or something to comply with their no pooping in the house rule. I don’t know anyone who buys a dog because they have a great leather leash they really wanna try out. Rather, they put a leash on their dog because they want to keep it safe, and even though the dog might not always like it and might even choke itself as it pulls and fights against the leash, the leash is there for the dog’s protection so that it can continue to live, love and enjoy it’s master.
The Pharisees missed the point, and a lot of time Albert misses the point, but Logie gets it. Even though Al is better behaved, Loge follows the number one dog command which is being man’s best friend. God’s greatest commandment is for us to love Him with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength. For dogs, the command to be man’s best friend has the implications of not pooping in the house, coming when we call them, greeting us when we come home, and many others, but those periphery commands serve the greatest command. Similarly, God has given lots of commands for us to live by, but they all serve the greatest command which is to love Him.
Even now as I’m writing this blog at my parent’s dinning room table, Logie is sitting at my feet. He is a constant parable and reminder to me of what is all about. Life isn’t just about not getting drunk, not watching porn, not gossiping, not hating people, not stealing, not lying, not getting in fights. Life is about loving God, growing in our knowledge of Him so that we can enjoy Him and His creation more, and when we obey Him with the intention of drawing close to Him we will have the desires of our hearts, namely more of Him. Like St. Augustine says: “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee”. When we draw close to God in the ways He tells us to, we find the rest we’ve been looking for and the joy of knowing our Maker as we ought to, in a loving relationship.
Logan is far from perfect, but I constantly tell him that he’s a good boy. I give him treats and run and play with him all the time. Parker is far from perfect, I mess up so often it’s insane, but God sent His Son to die for me so that He could call me a good boy. Now I can enjoy getting to know Him daily as I spend time in His word and praying to Him. He gave me dogs as a metaphors and constant reminder of His love for me and of his forgiveness. I am a jacked up sinner and I forgive my dog and try love him unconditionally, God is perfect and actually does love me unconditionally because He has forgiven me based on the work of His Son.
So although Loge doesn’t behave as well as Al, he is nearer to my heart because he spends time with me. He is a work in progress, I still spank him when he is disobedient and gradually he is behaving more and more, but while he fails in many other commands he is still following me around and actively being man’s best friend. And he even convicts me because he follows me around better than I follow Jesus, he spends more time with his master than I spend with my Master. I love this little guy and I’m grateful to God for giving me a living analogy of His love.
“Thou hast made known to me
That to save me is Christ’s work,
but to cleave to him by faith is my work,
And with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance
as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.
Continue, O God, to teach me
That faith apprehended Christ’s righteousness
Not only for the satisfaction of justice,
But as unspotted evidence of thy love for me.
Help me to make use of his work of salvation as the ground of peace,
And of thy favor to, and acceptance of me the sinner,
So that I may live always near the cross.”
Reconciliation, The Valley of Vision.
P.S. Albert has been spending more time around us because he sees how much love Logan gets and it makes him jealous to spend time with us as well. Something could be said about the Gentiles being brought into the Kingdom of God and making the Jews jealous that someone new is enjoying their salvation.
As I’m writing this Loge is almost on top of my feet and Al is like four or five feet away, as the years go on they both get closer so their is still hope for Albert and again I do still love him.