I recently read “A Dog’s Last Will & Testament”. It reminded me of how great it can be to rescue a dog and provide for it a wonderful home and life. But the task is not that easy. My family’s last rescue has been our greatest challenge. From the dog’s perspective, all it had seen were commands, scoldings, spritzings of water to the face, being separated from family and friends by being put outside and being forced to wear a muzzle. Why treat the dog so unkindly, you may ask? Because we love him.
Shortly after adopting our rescue, my sister-in-law came to visit. While there, the dog would not give her a moment’s peace. After repeatedly nipping at my sister-in-law, we found that the negative reinforcer of water spritzing kept the two separate. For clarification, we spritzed the dog and not my sister-in-law. We discovered that the function of his nipping behavior was that he had experienced a great deal of trauma ranging from being hit by a car, having a broken hip and being abandoned for two days. It appears that while he was wounded and abandoned, he must have been either frightened or teased by people on bikes and skateboards. His nipping was his response to being afraid. He was afraid of my sister-in-law, so he reacted by nipping at her in an attempt to keep her at bay. As she and others would visit my house, our training methods slowly helped to rescue reduce his nipping behavior.
Visits to the vet were an experience in themselves. One of our lasts visits had the vet, the technician, my wife and myself knocked around the room as we drew blood for tests, swabbed his ears with treatment and dealt with other annual health inspections. All the people heard in the waiting room was smash, bang and people being slammed against the door. Why? Because we love him.
It has been a little more than a year now since we have had him. He is much more calm and is developing into a strong, independent German Shepherd and less trauma reactive. Most people would have put him down and written him off as not salvageable. But, we saw something different. Through it all, I wonder what the dog thought? At the vet’s office, he more than likely thought we were trying to hurt him and when being trained not to nip or bite, he probably saw us as mean. But all we did was love him.
What is God trying to do in your life? As he works, how do you see him? Are you seeing his dealings as acts of love or is your perception skewed by the training experiences that he brings into your life. He is working you into what he sees you can be. Be patient and remember, he loves you.