Puppy love

This is our dog, Maxine. She is a great dog.

I can say that now because she’s eight years old, and she really is a great dog. Friendly, loyal, obedient (except when there are squirrels nearby), and good with kids. She’s everything you could hope for in a family pet.

That hasn’t always been the case.

We brought Max home when she was six weeks old. At four months old, she failed puppy kindergarten. The instructor told us she should repeat the class.

Rather than continuing to spend every Thursday evening in utter humiliation, my husband and I decided to take what we had learned and work with her ourselves. Our house was close to a wooded area, and that became our new training ground.

One day after work, I took Max to the wooded area. We worked repeatedly on sit, stay, heel. Apparently, that wasn’t entertaining enough, so Max decided to create her own fun. The wooded area was bordered on one side by a lake; it had a bulkhead with a five-foot drop down to the water.

Ignoring my attempts at training, Max bolted towards the lake, gaining speed and forward momentum.

“Surely, she’ll stop,” I thought. “She can’t possibly jump off the bulkhead.”

Oh, but she could. And she did.

Ears flapping in the breeze, all four puppy paws suspended in midair, Max’s first attempt at a flying leap looked pretty impressive.

Only too bad for her, because it hadn’t rained in a while and the lake was low. In fact, there wasn’t any water to break her fall, just a giant mud pit.

It’s a miracle she didn’t break anything. Puppies, like kids, must be very durable.

Anyway, she was stuck. And whimpering. When I rushed over to the edge of the bulkhead, I saw two very repentant eyes staring back at me.

But then the question was, how do I get her out?

First I stretched out on my stomach and tried to grab hold of her collar. No luck. She was too far down.

Realizing my only option was to go in after her, I took off my shoes and socks, climbed down the bulkhead and rescued my headstrong pup.

When I hoisted us both up out of the mud, I gave her a very thorough scolding. Then I put on my shoes and squelched, squelched, squelched my way home. Max was on the naughty list for quite some time after that.

This incident came back to me when I ran across some of Max’s puppy pictures recently. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this same scene has played out more than once in my life. It might have even played out in yours.

We disregard God’s instructions and fling ourselves into the pit of sin. We get stuck. It seems like we’ll never get out if we rely on our own strength. But God, in all His mercy, doesn’t let us stay there.

Psalm 40 says:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Just like I rescued my dog, God rescues us. I plucked her from the mud because – as rascally as she is – I love her. God feels the same way about us. We’re worth pulling from the pit. And in return, God gets the glory for our rescue.

Let’s talk: Have you ever had an incorrigible pet? Any funny stories you want to share?

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