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Someone in our church shared an experience on our church email list about her new dog. I thought it was so good that I asked her for permission to reprint it here.

The Dog Parable

About a month and a half ago we got a dog. We found out about her through someone that Stephen works with.
The dog was abandoned and possibly mistreated. Anyway, this is our first family dog and we are learning
how to care for her. The children agreed to be responsible for the dog and one of these responsibilities
is to give her a bath every two weeks or so. We do not know why, but for some reason, Jamie doesn't
like to get wet. It's not just a minor dislike; this is a fear she has. When the kids go to wash
her, Jamie will try to run away (she's on a leash) and she will jump and yip, bark and snap, etc.
It's quite challenging and difficult.

This past Saturday it was time to wash the dog. Stephen & Daniel went to help Michael with his
Eagle Scout project so that left Jessica & Stephanie to wash Jamie. I was upstairs ironing and
watching them from the window. I could see that it was not going well; it was actually worse than
the other times because now Jamie was biting at them. Jess & Steph were getting more and more
frustrated and even angry at the dog. I went down to see how I could help and realizing my inability
to do anything for them, I suggested that we pray. We went before the Lord and thanked Him that this
was happening and that He was using this situation to drive us to our knees, seeking Him for help.
Jessica prayed, "Please, Lord, help us; we just want to wash her! We just want to make her clean!
Show us how to get Jamie to trust us." I immediately thought about how God just wants to wash people
and make them clean but they think that it's bad and they don't want any part of it. (Jamie has gone
through something that has led her to believe a lie. Washing her is not a bad thing, but a good
thing.) Lost people in the world think that what's good for them is bad for them and they snap,
growl, bark and bite at those that are trying to share a very good thing with them.

We knew that God had given us dominion over this animal but we wanted to know how to exercise that
dominion. We talked about applying more force -- popping her on her mouth when she bites and firmly
saying "NO!". Since we didn't have a muzzle, it was suggested that we could use strong tape to tape
her mouth shut. We didn't feel good about these options but didn't know what else to do. Jessica
suggested telling her to lie down, then we'd reward her with a treat for lying down and then pour
water over her while she was down. We decided to try this and it worked twice. After that, the dog
knew what was happening and wouldn't cooperate anymore. We were out of ideas.

Teala had planned to come to our house that day for something else. Just at that time when we
realized the treat idea wasn't going to work, Teala came driving up. If you know Teala, you know how
much she loves animals, especially dogs. We asked her to help us and she said she would do what she

The first thing she did was she took the special nozzle off that we had attached to the hose. She
laid the hose down on the ground, got on her knees and began speaking very gently to Jamie as she pet
her. She then began filling her hand with water from the hose and petting Jamie, getting Jamie wet.
Jamie was fine with that. This worked for a bit but Jamie would still jump around, bark and try to
run away. To keep Jamie close enough to work with her, Teala put the leash under her knees. When
Jamie jumped and tried to run, the leash would painfully rub against Teala's legs, but Teala kept it
there, enduring the pain, continuing to speak to Jamie with the same gentle tone of voice.

Many times Jamie would go to bite Teala, but Teala never yanked her hand back; she kept reaching out
to Jamie, petting her, speaking gently to her. I noticed that when Jamie did actually bite Teala, it
was a soft bite; she didn't really bite hard at all so it didn't hurt.

As I watched, I was amazed at the spiritual truths that were being demonstrated. When we are trying
to talk to people (saved or unsaved) who are difficult or not easy to interact with, our first
thought is to apply more force and make them listen, understand or agree. But that's not God's way.
We have been called, as Christians, to love our neighbors. We are to love them the way that Teala
demonstrated God's love:

1-First, we need to remember that our immediate reaction is more than likely not God's way so we must
go before Him and ask Him what He would do.
2-We need to be sensitive to what may have happened in a person's past to lead to wrong thinking.
3-We are to speak gently. (The words didn't matter in this case; it was her tone of voice that made
the difference. Applying more force would not have resulted in her trusting us.)
4-We are to be willing to get wet and dirty.
5-We have to stay on our knees.
6-We are to be willing to get hurt some, enduring the pain with joy for the good of the one we're
7-We have to be patient and persistant, never giving up no matter how the other person responds.
8-We are to keep reaching out and not be afraid even if the person is growling, snarling and biting
at us.
9-There needs to be appropriate touch.
10-We need to be willing to hang in there even if it seems like it's taking a very long time.

There is probably more that could be mentioned, but I will stop here. Please take this story and go
before our Lord and ask Him what He is saying to you about how to apply these truths in your life.
There is a reason He prompted you to ask me to tell you about this. I'll be praying for you that you
can hear Him clearly...

Just to bring the story to a close, Jamie did end up getting bathed, though perhaps not as well as we
would have liked. I am quite confident, however, that over time, Jamie will trust us enough to stand
still and allow us to bathe her and there will be no jumping, growling or biting. What will have
transformed her is the power of God's amazing love.

To Him be the glory forever! Amen!

With His love,

Posted: 2004-09-21 23:42:15

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