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


{ jessica } said...

Hello! I'm a long time lurker on your kennel site and blog, but I've decided to come out for once :) I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you write! I have 2 dogs and Lord willing, I'm going to be getting a ECS in the near future (
I love it the way you use examples from your dogs!
God Bless and cheers from a fellow Engi admirer!

Anonymous said...

Everything you write about your dogs, pretty much applies to kids. It only takes one kid in my class to start interrupting lessons, and pretty soon they all give it a try. I've found that when you praise the kids who are listening, the others straighten up too. I'm not sure it works that way for dogs!

Debbie Owczarzak said...

Hello Jessica and Lisa!

Jessica, thanks for coming out of "lurkdom". :-) I hope you get that new Engi you are dreaming of. I admire you for having the patience to wait for God's timing.

Lisa, yes, there are probably a lot of similarities in raising dogs and raising kids. We see how the kids can influence other kids and how dogs can influence other dogs...but what about us? Who do we let into our "inner cirles"? And what influence do they ultimately have on our lives?