Lessons from a Loyal Companion

Last Sunday morning, we laid to rest our beloved family guardian, our dog, Tessa.  “Tess the Mess,” as we lovingly called her,  came to us as an 8 week old puppy.  We had spent many months researching her breed, locating breeders, going to visit her parents, and then finally choosing her from the litter.  Both my husband and I are dog lovers.  As a matter of fact, I cannot remember a time in my life that I have not had a dog.  Even all of my jobs since high school have included working with “man’s best friend.”  All that to say, we take owning a dog very seriously.  To us, a dog is not just a pet, but a member of the family, so for our family, this was a major loss.  As we stood around her freshly dug grave, we laughed, we cried and we remembered her attributes.  As each person named the qualities that made Tessa so special, I paused to think…I wish more humans were that way.

I have a sign that hangs by my grooming tub that says, “The more I get to know some people, the more I like dogs.”  Being a dog groomer, I spend many hours with only canine companions.  This suits me well.  It gives me lots of time to think, and God often speaks to me as I work. As funny as it may seem, all week long, I’ve been thinking about those things that we talked about standing around our dog’s grave that day, and it has challenged me to be a better person.  So, I wanted to share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the life of a loyal dog.  If you’ve ever had a faithful, four legged companion, you might recognize some of these characteristics.  We may have taught her how to sit, down, shake and rollover, but what she taught us was so much more.

When I think about my Tessa, the first thing that comes to mind is her unconditional love.  From the moment she entered our home, she was ours and we were hers.  Nothing made her happier than spending time with her family.  She was always very repentant when she did wrong.  The look on her face always gave her away when she was guilty.  If you have a dog, you know this look-the head down, eyes looking up and then turning away in shame.  How can you not forgive that look?  On the other hand, she was always quick to forgive.  She never held a grudge.  It didn’t matter how long you had been gone, a few minutes or several days, she was always there to great you with a wagging tail and wiggling body.  She loved unconditionally.

Another thing that stood out was her fierce loyalty.  By her breed nature, she was a guard dog, but she was more than that.  She was loyal to a fault to her people.  She was a good judge of character.  If someone was a friend to us, then she knew they were a friend to her.  Even if they didn’t want to be her friend, she did her very best to win them over.  She could be quite intimidating to non-dog lovers.  When someone came to our home, it was her job to protect us and our property and she took her job seriously.  At first, she thought it was effective to run into the garage and bark from inside where no one could get her and if anyone approached her, she would squat and pee all over herself. (Sorry for being graphic, but it’s the truth.) This was really not effective in scaring people that did not belong, or anyone else for that matter. It took her a few years to figure out how to most effectively do her job, but eventually she got the hang of it.  By the end of her life, I could confidently say that she would have protected us with her life.  She would boldly put herself between us and anyone or anything that meant to cause us harm.  She loved loyally.

Finally, she was a faithful companion.  Wherever we were, she was happiest to be with us.  She loved to spend time with us and because she did, I’m pretty sure she got to know us pretty well.  Dogs have feelings too.  If you spend enough time with them, you will see.  When we were down, she would come lay her head on our lap and look at us with those sad puppy eyes.  It was like she knew we just needed a friend and she understood.  She would listen when we talked and acted like she knew exactly what we were saying.  When we were happy and enjoying life, she would wiggle all over and be happy with us.  She only had a two inch tail, therefore wiggling was much more effective than wagging.  Whether we were working, playing or lounging around, she was always by our side. And we were happiest, when she was by our side.  She loved faithfully.

She loved unconditionally. 

She loved loyally.

She loved faithfully.

And so I think…Do I love like thatCan I love like that?

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Tessa loved like this.  I get this.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would lay down my own life for the life of my husband or the life of my children, but I think God intended a little more.  He gave His life for all who would believe, even while we were still sinners.  That one is a little harder to swallow, but challenges me non the less.

But…am I first to say, “I’m sorry?”  Am I quick to forgive?  Do I get excited to see my family and always greet them when they come home?  Do I listen well and sit with those who just need someone by their side?  Do I mourn with those who mourn and laugh with those who laugh?  Do I protect those I love with a fierce loyalty?  Sadly, my answers to these questions are often times, “No.” 

If we loved her so much for loving us like that, then why should we not love others like that as well? 

So, as I remember you Tessa, I want to say… Thank you my loyal companion for teaching me through how you loved.  I don’t know if dogs go to heaven, but if they do, I know God would say, “Well done, good and faithful companion.  You loved well and you were loved in return.”  I no longer mourn the days to come without you here, but instead celebrate the time I had with you and the life you lived.  You were so loved and I miss you dear friend.  Thanks for teaching me how to love.

Loved Well,

Lorissa

Find me linked up at http://www.w2wministries.org/.

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