Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lessons from a dog

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We celebrated Christmas with just the family. We were all together under one roof. Our daughter Aly was home from college and our son, Nick, and his family moved here from Springfield, MO about 2 years ago so they were here. It was a blessing to have everyone together.


Lately I've been thinking about patience. My husband and I were in an express check-out at Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve. We had gone to a Wal-Mart in a different town thinking there would be less traffic and less of a crowd. We were right. With only one person ahead of us in line we made it to the cashier in record time for Christmas Eve. The cashier greeted us with a warm smile; we smiled back and asked how her day was. She told us of some rude customers she had earlier who hated Christmas and everything to do with the holiday. Her description resembled pages out of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. Just a couple of weeks earlier I had been at the Wal-Mart here in our town and witnessed a man telling the cashier off. He was miffed and everyone in the general area knew it. The cashier was as calm and courteous as she could have been (I wanted to clobber him). I watched as he stared daggers at her, with an ugly menacing attitude. I had my purse ready to whack him if he came across that counter at her ( I might add I was in another line, but my purse would have reached him). What in the world is wrong with people? What has happened to common courtesy and caring about the welfare of another? How can waiting in line (which wasn't very long) reduce someone to such behavior?



We see a lack of patience every day. In the stores, on the highway, on our jobs, etc. It is said that patience is a virtue. What is a virtue? Webster defines virtue as 1: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. 2:conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude. Obviously, a virtue doesn't just simply appear in our lives, it must be attained. I can feel myself getting preachy here and I don't want to do that. But I'm really tired of seeing how ill we can treat our fellow man. I often learn by life example or word pictures, maybe it's because I'm visual, most people are; hopefully this lesson from a dog will help you see what I am talking about.

We have a Border collie named SadieMae. She's a rescued dog from a Border Collie Rescue Group. She was about a year old when she came to us. Nothing was known about her history. She was found wondering the street in a small town in WV and was taken to a local shelter. When SadieMae came to our home she was a very untrained dog. The second day she was with us, she tore apart her kennel and wrecked our daughter’s room. When we walked into Aly’s room all we could do was stand in utter amazement. While surveying the destruction, my sweet husband called SadieMae a "demon" dog, that seemed to sum it up. I have to admit, I wondered what in the world we had gotten ourselves into. I took a deep breath and steeled myself for the battle that was going to take place. She obviously was an aggressive dog (not mean, but wanting things her way). I would have to teach and train her to be the dog I knew she could be. I have done it before and knew I could do it again. Meal time with Sadie was an adventure, she would not wait on her food, she didn't know how to sit, wait, heel, she wasn't housed trained, she jumped on us, nipped and herded the kids and everyone else. She was undisciplined in every way. Anyone who has trained a dog knows you accomplish training in steps. If you want to teach a dog to stay you first teach them to sit. After they have learned this step you teach them to stay. If you want them to learn to stay while lying down you have to teach them to sit, lie down then stay. Sadie loves her kibbles so starting with food was the best way to teach her to behave herself. After she had learned to sit and stay the next step was to teach her not to come into the kitchen. It wasn’t easy but she learned to stay out. I then taught her to sit and wait on her food. Even though it was sitting in front of her she could not eat until she was told she could have it. We then moved to heel, no bark (still is learning that one), the return, settle (no jumping). When she came to us, if she was handed a treat you had to count your fingers to make sure she didn't take one. Now she takes a treat with such gentleness, you wouldn't know she has teeth. She has become a well trained dog. When my daughter comes home from college she always comments on how well behaved SadieMae has become (remember this is the girl whose room was wrecked by Sadie), friends who come to visit comment on how much better behaved she is.




How does all this tie in? Conforming to a virtue such as patience is much like Sadie’s transformation from a "raw" untrained dog to a well behaved trained dog. It didn't happen overnight, it happened in steps and it took a lot of hard work on both our parts. She had to conform to obedience by making a choice to obey vs doing what she wanted. At first I could see the struggle in her but after a while it became second nature to her, and I could see in her the desire to please. Not only does she enjoy the benefits of that training but we enjoy it as well. There are things that happen daily in our lives to train us how to be patient. We can make the choice to let them train us or we can lash out like those I have seen in the past few weeks. When we learn patience and allow it to be a virtue in our lives we will enjoy its benefits and others will too. If you have ever been on the receiving end of someone's patience you know what I am talking about. I have heard people say they don’t pray for patience because trouble is sent their way. Hmmmm, how do we know we have patience if it isn’t put to the test? A test is usually given as we are learning, that test will show what areas are lacking and what areas are strong. I hope in this New Year we will make an effort to practice patience, to let it work in us until it becomes a virtue so when it is tested we will pass with flying colors. Our family, friends, co-workers and others will enjoy its benefit and so will we.



But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23


I am working on a item for a January give away. It is something I am sewing but painting too. I can't tell you what it is yet so you will have to practice some patience.

10 comments:

The Farmer's Attic said...

Thanks Willa, I needed that! Everything takes discipline and you're right - it's one step at a time.

Carmen C. said...

Bless you for saving her and giving so much time, patience and love to help SadieMae to become such a happy wonderful dog:)We got our german shepherd at 10 weeks old and she was the most scared, backwards dog I had ever had, if you even looked her way she would go hide, it took us alot of time and loving patience to help her to change, and today she is 8 yrs. old and one of the happiest dogs! I can't stand the rude shoppers who go around putting a black cloud on everyone's day! enjoy your day, and thanks for sharing this wonderful story!

Valley Primitives Gift Shoppe said...

Beautiful post! How about I send our Jack Russell to you for some training? LOL! Your Sadie is beautiful.
Kim

AngieSH said...

It is so true, everyone is always in a hurry, never taking the time to just breathe and be joyful in the fact you have that option. God Bless!

Merrie. said...

Thank you very much for such a great post.

Crystal Martin said...

Great words to follow Willa. Thanks for the wonderful post. Patience is something we lack much of these days in a world on instant satisfaction.

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Willa Sweetie...
You have so touched my heart today. I just cannot tell you how much. Let me share a piece of what transpired:
I was in a grocery store over the holiday. I do not move fast, as my feet do not work as they used to. Being an insulin diabetic (I take 5 shots a day), I only have one speed, I have no feeling left in the bottoms of my feet. I still like to do things for myself, I just go at a slower speed. A very smarty pants young man, yelled at me in the store to "Move my FAT ASS". He spoke quite loud, and ofcourse everyone turned around to see what on earth he was yelling at. I quietly moved aside and turned, as I did and told him, "God Bless You Young Man. God said, You so need to be blessed today." I cannot tell you the look I saw on his face. He hurried on out the door, the people all nodded and went back to the business, and I went on down the aisle.

Yes Willa, I love your post today. Maybe it will teach one person something new. PATIENCE...We all begin somewhere.

I wanted to pop over and thank you for my most beautiful box. Not only did I receive icicles, but 2 other precious gifts as well. I love the little Santa with the needle and thread. I just do not know where you come up with these ideas. Sweetie you are so clever, so very clever, and the little Snow Folk with the tiny little clothes pin, Willa I will cherish them for the rest of my life. I never get rid of anything. My handmade things are my hearts desire. I am not putting them up either, I have decided they need to be out year round, as they make me smile. They came to me last week on the very day I had the incident at the store. It made me feel so very happy to know that someone out there, who had never met me in person, would treat me with such kindness, when another at the store treated me so horribly. God does work in mysterious ways doesn't he? I thank you so much for your kindness, it is so appreciated.

I am looking forward to 2010. Happy New Year sweetie, as it is just around the corner. Where has the year gone?

Country hugs and so much love sweetie...Sherry

The Old Cupboard Door said...

Oh Sherry, your post put me in tears! I hope this incident changes that young man's life as he thinks about his actions and hurtful words. Your display of patience and kindness to him is what we need more of, that is a virtue.

You are so welcomed for the ornaments. I'm delighted that you like them. The little santa and needle is a santa repair kit. Although I did make it I can't take credit for the idea. I believe it was in a magazine a few years ago but I have seen them in many other places and made in many different ways. I put my own twist on this one by painting a santa on it. I have one hanging on my tree and treasure it too.

Cyndimac's Nick Knacks said...

Amen sister! I also needed that...I try really hard to be patient and I'm pretty good at it but I've had my share of impatience too. Sadie Mae is one lucky doggie to be loved by you. She has a wonderful home and that is just a wonderful story! Thanks! Hopefully, when I do get impatient next time this story will come to mind!

Farmergirl Primitives said...

Thank you for that! That really made me think about my own patience.

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