You Can Learn Something New Every Day If...You Watch Your Dog?
Our Beautiful Sunshine!
I’ve recently learned some helpful lessons from the behavior of my family’s new dog, Sunshine, that can be applied to the way I view and treat my new siblings. (My parents are going to court on October 26 to adopt three more children!) As I’ve watched her behavior, I’ve noticed that she needs extra understanding from my family and me because she is new to our family rules and because she is a naturally energetic puppy. Also, she and Poochita, our other dog, have a rocky relationship because of miscommunication. After observing these lessons in Sunshine, I will hopefully be better equipped to show patience to my new siblings and hope for the best when my relationships with them may seem difficult. It may seem strange how these ideas could really connect with my siblings, but a few examples might make it clearer.
Always Looking for Trouble!
The first lesson is that Sunshine needs extra understanding from my family and me. The main reason for this is that it’s not fair to get impatient with her not following commands until she has an adequate time to learn them. When we tell her to sit and she slowly lowers to a position halfway between sitting and lying down, while wearing a confused expression on her face, it’s almost cruel to get impatient about that. Also, she may seem to cause more trouble than my family’s older dog, Poochita, but this is mostly because she is an energetic puppy. It wouldn’t really be reasonable to expect her to bundle all that raw energy and curiosity inside her little body until she exploded! (What planet do we think we live on anyway, that puppies would always be well-behaved???) Because of these factors, my family and I should show extra patience when Sunshine doesn’t obey or causes trouble.
Sunshine Just Couldn't Help Chasing Poochita's Tail...
The second lesson is that the relationship between our two dogs, Sunshine and Poochita, is strained because of miscommunication. The two dogs often get into growling matches or test the limits to see how much the other dog will bear. Sunshine, who is half Border Collie, likes to try to herd Poochita by bumping Poochita with her rump, and Poochita often responds by a ferocious growl and an occasional bite of Sunshine’s paw! These interactions may sound really bad, but this is because of miscommunication between the dogs. Each dog interacts well with people, so it’s not that either dog is inherently mean. However, they each view the situation differently: Sunshine wants a playmate and possesses the Border Collie herding instinct, and Poochita feels threatened by Sunshine’s cocky attempts to tease her. Neither dog’s view is wrong, but the misinterpretation of the other dog leads to conflict.
Finally! Some Progress!
How do these two lessons relate to my new siblings? They show two ways I can hopefully build better long-term relationships with my new siblings. The first way is to show a very patient spirit if my siblings’ actions within their first year home seem strange, annoying, or different than normal. Like yelling at Sunshine after she didn’t understand the “sit” command, it would be relationally damaging, unhelpful, and unreasonable to speak harshly to my youngest sister after she explored some of my prize belongings without asking. Also, if my new brother often got hyperactive while cooped up inside during the long Iowa winter, it would be more constructive to help him find a useful way to burn that extra energy than to angrily tell him to sit still. Of course, I’ll naturally fail in these very ways occasionally, and I may find other difficult aspects of my relationships with them. I’ll need to look to Jesus for wisdom and help. If He could give me these lessons through a puppy, of all things, I should certainly keep my ears and eyes open for other unusual ways He might teach me to relate to my siblings. Hmm…God made a donkey talk once…what if dogs could talk…?