On my way to work today I drove past a number of people who were out walking their dogs. For some reason all the various dogs and their ownerss caught my attention. I thought about my own dog, what a great friend and companion he has been for the past 11 years, and how he is coming gracefully into his senior years, hopefully like me.

As I reflected on various memories of my dog Duffy, I had the thought, “God, what lessons can you teach me from my dog?” Here is what I believe God showed me, some true lessons about God and life in general:

1. True friendship

Like my dog, a true friend is always there for you in both the good times and the bad. My dog is not a fair-weather friend, someone who is only there when things are good, or when they want something from me. He is loyal, but real loyalty doesn’t mean that he just goes along with anything I want. My dog will bark and confront me if he thinks I am doing something wrong. Not understanding that my wrestling with the kids is only play, he will attempt to break it up by nipping at me with respectful bites. And he is also ready and willing to defend and protect me when necessary. That’s a true friend.

2. Love is a commitment

At first I wrote that my dog loves unconditionally, but maybe that really isn’t true. The fact is that there are times when he pouts because he didn’t get to go for a ride with me, or when I need to discipline him. But I know he loves me because he is committed to me. No matter what my mood is, he is always there for me. I know he would give his life for me and the other members of his family, his pack.

3. Dependency can be okay

My dog depends on me to take care of him. He needs me to get his daily food, make sure his water bowl is full, and let him out into the yard. I also make sure he has the proper veterinary care and lots of exercise to stay healthy. So too, we need to depend on God and it is also okay to depend on others to have our needs met. Just like my dog does when he sits by the door when he needs to go outside, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

4. Don’t let appearances trick you

My dog is pretty quick to determine if someone is a friend or foe. It is almost as if they can sense a vibe about a person and it doesn’t matter how the person is dressed or how they appear. Dogs seem to be able to sense if someone likes them or not, and if it is safe to let a person enter their domain. I think I tend to trust at times when I shouldn’t, or vice- versa, whereas my dog reminds me—don’t be fooled by appearances.

5. Get lots of rest

Let’s face it, dogs love to sleep, and they do it a lot. It seems as if a dog can sleep at the drop of a hat, but they also can wake up quickly and go right to work. There are studies by the medical community that indicate that many people don’t get the proper amount of sleep and rest they need are walking around sleep deprived. Taking a cue from my dog, I try to rest when I’m tired and sleep when I need to.

6. Don’t be afraid to show affection

My dog loves to be petted, have his head and neck scratched, or have that impossible-to-reach special spot on his rump rubbed. And he has no problem showing me how much he loves it. He is also quick to nuzzle his head into my leg, and if I’m not fast enough to move my face away from his, I’ll have a big pink tongue flung in my direction as he attempts to kiss me—okay, it’s really a lick. Like Duffy the dog, I need to show my friends that I appreciate them—but probably not by licking them (Ha).

7. Enjoy food

All you have to say around my dog is the word “hungry” and he immediately knows it is time to be fed. With unbounded enthusiasm he jumps around the room as if in his brain he is saying, “Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! It’s FOOD TIME.” The fact is that for many people, meals are consumed on the run and not savored—not that my dog takes his time to relish or savor his food, but he certainly has taught me that food is meant to be enjoyed. God has given us food for more than mere sustenance, it’s to be enjoyed and meals are when shared with others.

8. Actions speak louder than words

When it comes to spending time with my dog, there is no getting around the fact that he doesn’t care about what I say or promise to do. I could tell him all day long that I will take him on a walk or play “toss the ball,” but he only cares if I actually do it. For him, actions speak louder than words, and that is something I need to remember too.

9. Take time to play

Dogs need play time—and so do we. My dog loves to play, whether it’s hide-and-seek, get squeeky, or catch-me-if-you- can. Some times we need to stop with all the business of life, all the so-called critical things we think we need to do, and take time to play. And even though my dog is a senior citizen now, he still loves to play—and so do I, especially with him.

10. Accept your limitations

As my dog has gotten older he finds it harder to jump in the truck or chase the birds and squirrels like he once did. He knows when its time to sleep and when to quit play time. He doesn’t have any false sense of who he is or what he can and cannot do. He seems to have gracefully accepted his age and his limitations at this stage—and I think I need to, too.

Take Away Lesson:

God can use things from our everyday life to teach us great truths about Himself and how to get the most out of life.

Oh, and thank you God for my dog, and for today’s lesson.