This past week, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson visited from Ohio and brought their dog Sadie with them. She’s nine months old now, and the nickname Sadie-the-lady fits beautifully. She doesn’t chase my evil cat Sultana, non-affectionately known as BadCat, nor does she bother Tasha. Thus Sadie fulfills the role of a welcome dog-guest. She brightens any room she enters, and enlivens any woods she roams. And she loves to be loved.
Sadie has brought about an interesting change in my 4-year-old grandson. When he was a baby, he inadvertently terrorized Tasha by running over her paws with his walker. He became her best friend once he started eating—and dropping—solid food. When he started to toddle, we taught him to leave Tasha alone because even three years ago, she was geriatric and lacking in patience.
Last year, my grandson developed a dislike for Tasha because she snatched a cookie out of his hand. (I would hate anyone who did such a thing to me!) The word cookie is one of the few sounds that still penetrates my dog’s hearing. To my grandson’s dismay, she doesn’t discriminate between doggie treats and double-chocolate Milanos. Eventually, my grandson and my dog developed a détente—you don’t eat my cookies, and I’ll toss yours out on the front lawn for you to hunt down.
Sadie has changed everything for my little fella.
This week he was all over Tasha—in all the best ways. He sat quietly next to her blanket, just to keep her company. He stroked her ears and gently rested his arm over her shoulders. He spoke in soft, sweet tones that Tasha doesn’t hear. I do hear, and my hear warms.
Because my grandson has learned to love his dog, he knows how to love my dog. Tasha no longer gives him looks of annoyance, with ears askew and shoulders pulled away. She submits to his love because she understands that his love can now be trusted.
Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Because Ryan has learned to love his Sadie, he can be trusted to love a more difficult, prickly dog. And isn’t this the path that God sets before us? Love my family, love my Christian brethren, love my neighbor.
But just as I would never allow my grandson to pet a pit bull, I shy away from Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Petting a sweet dog is one thing. Extending our hand to a snarling, growling beast is quite another thing altogether.
Perhaps I need to learn from my old dog who has learned a new trick. Tasha submits to my grandson’s love because she understands his love can be trusted.
NEXT UP: Meet Robin Lee Hatcher and her Papillon, Poppet.