Friday, October 19, 2007

Cocker See, Cocker Do

I Corinthians 15:33
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Well, that didn’t take long…my little “Hope” has learned new things from her big sister, “Groovy”. In my last article, Time for an Obedience Class, I shared how Groovy has been “testing me” and not coming in from outside when I call her. No sooner did I finish writing the article did my 7 month old “Hope” begin to travel down the same road. If there is one thing I have learned in 16 plus years breeding and raising dogs is that not all behavior is genetic, but much of it is learned….not just from humans, but often from other dogs who share the home (multi-dog homes). Younger, more impressionable dogs often look to the older dogs for guidance as to appropriate and/or acceptable behavior. Bad behavior, such as peeing on the floor, barking excessively, digging, destroying things, and yes, not coming when the master calls, can often quite easily “rub off” on the yet untrained dog. The younger dog can further learn other, more serious, behaviors from doggy peers such as wariness of strangers, object guarding, crate possessiveness, fence fighting, or even general “irritability” issues. Even for dogs, the scripture holds true, “Bad company corrupts good morals”! On the positive side, if a young dog grows up around other dogs that are happy, outgoing, accepting of strangers, obedient, responsive, and relatively quiet, they have a much better chance of becoming “good dogs”, like their more positive role models. This is what makes a “dam” worth her weight in gold in a breeding program if she herself possesses a sound mind and a gentle heart to pass on and to teach her “children.”

The great Book of Psalms starts right off in Chapter 1 verse 1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Sounds pretty and poetic, doesn’t it? But do we heed its practical advice? When we search for direction, for what to do, or for what to think on a matter, who do we ask? When we know something is wrong and we do it anyway because “everyone else is doing it”, what path are we traveling down and with what company? Do we sit by while injustice occurs and even join in on the contempt of the “weak”? Sarcasm and ridicule can often be quite contagious.

If we watch carefully who we walk, stand, and sit around, we are told we can be blessed. Blessed….defined in the Greek as “happy, prosperous, fortunate, and enviable”. What a promise! But, we’ll never see that promise until we choose to follow God, to keep company with Him, and to seek to surround ourselves with those who will lift us up, not bring us down.

I am not losing “Hope”…she and “Groovy” have taken a momentary “detour” down a dead end path. But, they still have the grand matriarch “Joy” to help keep them in line and to give them something positive to imitate. “Joy” is as blessed as any dog can be blessed...and I am blessed to keep her company.

In Christ and covered in dog hair,

Debbie Owczarzak

Friday, October 5, 2007

Time for an Obedience Class

Psalm 40:8
“I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”

I have a one year old English Cocker Spaniel named “Groovy”. She is a very playful and silly girl. I love her temperament and personality, well, except for maybe one thing. Groovy loves life so much that often times when she is called to come in from outside, she will not want to come in because she would rather stay outside and play. It was sort of cute when she was 6 months old to see her little wheels turning like “Ummmm….do I have to? I REALLY want to stay out here and play!” She’d dance around with her ears perked and eyes alert and wide. Then, I would have to walk out and get her…sometimes even chase her. Now, at a year old, she still stands outside when it is time to come in, but she stands real still with a pitiful look of “Awww….I was having so much fun and now it’s over!!” I still have to walk out to get her, only this time I do not have to chase her. She knows she will not win this “stand off”. I scoop her up, I cradle her in my arms, I give her smooches, and I assure her there will be more fun again later. She kisses back.

Obedience to the Lord is often a rough road to walk….at first. Early on, in our immaturity (or perhaps ignorance), we disobey God by backing away from Him and holding tight to that which we think we so badly want or need in life. We cling to our “moment”, we try to justify why we should be free to enjoy our “moment”, and we fight to keep our “moment”. When we mature a bit more, we begin to obey because we know God is the Authority…but, we still don’t like it and we still don’t understand why God has put a “restriction” on our personal freedoms. While it is good we obeyed, we have not yet moved into obeying from the heart…which is what God is really after. Why? Because when we get to the point where we obey from the heart, we are at a point where there is no “fighting”, but rather peace and joy. There is peace in not always having to understand the complete wisdom in what God asks of us through simply trusting that God is good, that His love is great, and that He has our best interest at heart. And, there is joy…joy because we know our obedience is pleasing to Him.

Where are we on our road to complete surrender to God and His will and His ways? My girl “Groovy” has traveled the rocky road to now the gravel road, but I am sure she’ll be cruising down that smooth, paved road very soon….especially when she realizes there is a free flowing stream of doggy biscuits awaiting her around that next bend. Perhaps God has our fondest delights and dreams awaiting us around the next bend on our journey? I suspect He does….if we will obey from our heart….and go there.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

In Christ and covered in dog hair,

Debbie Owczarzak