The Dog Days of Summer

I’ve been chewing on this one for awhile.

And I say chewing because right now, I feel like my mouthy 4 1/2 month old puppy and I are sharing parallel lives. Pathetic you may be thinking. Perhaps. Painful? Definitely.

My little chocolate lab, Hermione, started obedience school a week ago. She is so stubborn and strong-willed that she blazed right past a normal collar to a choke chain, and very quickly the trainer realized we would have to resort to one of those pinching prong ones. I grimace just thinking about it. I never thought I’d be the girl with a modified choke chain around my little puppy’s neck. But this dog is downright defiant. Look-you-in-the-eye-while-she-grabs-the-shoe-to-make-sure-you’re-watching kind of defiant. Repetitive defiant. Crazy, obnoxious, bowl over a toddler kinda spastic and unruly.

I love her for it, don’t get me wrong. It’s her spitfire personality that I think brought us together. And that’s where the parallels all begin. I’m sure some of you, ok, maybe most of you, are thinking, “Huh, sounds a lot like someone else I know… like her ‘mom’ maybe.” Yea, I know. It’s true. Which is why this whole process is well, just difficult.

The irony of getting a dog with a bull-headed but at the same time endearingly lovable personality, is never lost on me. It actually haunts me daily with the many pauses for discipline. (I shudder to think what actual parenting, the kind with humans, will be like. Humans actually have sin natures. Disgusting). Watching my little puppy get her collar yanked for the first time, and then hearing her little yelp of shock broke my heart. BROKE MY HEART. I hated it. I hated every minute of it. Especially as it took yank after yank for her to get the hint. No, that shoe is not for you. No that boxing glove is not your’s. No, you cannot jump on people. No, the couch is not your bed. No, my hand is not your chew toy. No. No. NO. NO. NO.

It feels a lot like my life. NO. That roommate is not for you. NO you can’t have that boyfriend any longer. NO your car insurance rates cannot go down, only up because you suck at driving. NO you don’t have any idea where the hell you’re gonna live or who you’re gonna live with in the next few months to years of your life. NO you can’t drive to the vets without popping two tires. NO your school loans will never be paid off. No, none of this makes it any easier to save for things likes houses. NO happiness does not seem in your future right now. Every step you take in life, I will yank harder, and harder, and harder. Until you stop.

Stop what, God? Wanting things? Desiring companionship? Love? Someone to fall asleep with at night, sharing about our days? A house that I can actually own? An idea when this girl who’s been in her career for going on five years now will actually feel stable financially? 10 years from now when all my school loans are paid off and hopefully all my stupid tickets? What do you want me to stop doing? Stop working? Stop loving? Stop FEELING?!

Maybe I’m crazy. But as I sat and watched terror and then sadness come over my pup’s demeanor, I couldn’t help but feel my own sadness heightened. It’s because I get it. I get that everything she’s wanting right now simply cannot be her’s. And it sucks. I can’t buy her enough toys to make that not suck. Those toys aren’t what she really wants. What she really wants belongs to everyone else. And there’s no way to ease that pain. Not when she sees all the other people in her world getting to play with their sneakers and eat their ice cream.

And that’s when it hit me. Does God feel sad when He looks at my life? Does it hurt Him to see me in pain? He’s holding the leash. He’s yanking the collar for a reason. He’s not the instrument of my punishment, He is the decision behind this discipline. On days, like my puppy does with me, it just makes me angry. I kick up my paws and I whine and I growl and I nip. I didn’t know I needed this discipline. Was I that bad? Could things have been so awful all this is necessary? Do You care?

I know if I care that my canine is hurting, surely God must care that I am. And I know that if I know all this discipline is good for Hermione, because it will make her a better dog in the long-run, because I’ll enjoy her more and so will everyone else, then surely God’s discipline must be doing likewise for me. If my pup and I are truly living in a parallel universe right now, then maybe God really does sigh in frustration when He sees me strive so hard to fight the direction my life is taking me. Maybe He really doesn’t want to keep yanking on my collar. Maybe He knows if I just stop striving, the collar will stop hurting so bad. Maybe, just maybe, He knows it will produce something better in me. Something much more long-lasting than this age of youthful rebellion I seem self-sabotagingly stuck in. Maybe I’ll be a better person for years to come.

Maybe the Dog Days of summer are actually still ahead of me…

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