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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Outright Obedience

This past weekend my youngest daughter asked us to babysit her new puppy named “Fitzgerald”. He’s a small French Bull Dog with a huge amount of personality but he’s also about the best-behaved puppy I have ever seen. So watching him is easy and fun… and always entertaining.

Fitz woke me up with the tiniest whine on Sunday morning. He does that when he needs to go out, so I grabbed his leash so we could take a walk along the beach. There are so many different objects and smells in the sand at the beach that Fitz was just loving it. He couldn’t go two feet without jamming his nose into the sand and sniffing up a storm. For some reason, he would suddenly start digging super-fast throwing giant amounts of sand between his legs up into the air. I’m not sure what he was digging for but then again, I doubt he was either.

After about twenty minutes I was ready to head back in, but Fitz spotted something buried in the sand. As he started sniffing around it I realized it was a crusty old fish head, covered with flies and smelling like well… a dead fish. It was gross, but to Fitz’s nose it was a prickly piece of heaven. I yelled, “No Fitz, let’s go” and normally that’s all I have to do to get him to start walking. But not this time. He turned and looked at me, then he looked at that fish-head. Then he looked at me again and then he looked at that fish-head again. I yelled at him again to leave it alone and tugged his leash, but he didn’t budge. I could tell he was thinking and considering his options. And then he did something that I have never seen him do before… he outright disobeyed me. He jammed his nose and teeth right into the heart of that disgusting chunck of ocean scum like it was a piece of cake. It surprised me and angered me just a little, which meant that my voice got loud and my tone got harsh, and he could tell I wasn’t going to be ignored.    

Fitz immediately stopped chewing and sat back on his hind legs. He glanced awkwardly at me for a moment then turned and slowly walked back towards me with his head hanging down the whole way. The excitement of the filthy fish-head discovery had been replaced by the guilt of disobedience. As we approached our patio his head was still hanging low but my heart had softened up, so I stopped and knelt down beside him. As I looked at his face and rubbed his ears, I think he could sense forgiveness, which made him jump straight up into my lap. I didn’t say anything and he didn’t need me to. His crime was forgiven and all was good again in both our lives.

I have to admit I don’t really know if a dog can feel guilt. But I do know that humans can (at least the good ones with character and a conscience can). But despite the sting of guilt, even the best of us can’t be outright obedient 100% of the time, which got me thinking…Wouldn’t it be great if we had someone that would take us into their lap, rub our heads and constantly forgive us our sins (even if we stink like a dead fish) insuring that despite disobedience, things can still turn out right? I think maybe we do!

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
~ Paul Boese

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