We recently decided to be more faithful in leash training our mischievous dog, Barney.
The decision was reached the day after my daughter made several trips through the house furiously chasing him. “You come back here right now. Drop it! Now! Drop it, I say.” He ignored her and pranced from room to room with her partially chewed slippers in his mouth, glancing behind him occasionally, then sprinting ahead. Round and round they went. I tried to be serious, but I couldn’t help myself. I heehawed as he ran circles around her.
The next morning my shoes were chewed.
“That’s it! No more! We are not being fair to this dog or ourselves.” He wants to please, and we want him to. We need a plan.” So we devised one.
These are our rules: If he is in the house, he is on a leash and someone is in charge. If he does something wrong while you are in charge of the leash (like abridge a bible), you have to do a 20-minute chore for each household member AND do restitution for whatever happened under your watch. (My husband has had to wash a whole bunch of bath mats and the bedspread several times.)
One morning after beginning the training, we woke up and had coffee together in the living room. Barney was released from Sing Sing (his kennel). We casually passed him off to one another as he greeted us and said “good morning” with his tail and a full-body wag.
He whined to see Papa, that’s my husband, and my daughter released him. “Here comes Barney, Daddy.” Barney was properly greeted and loved on. Then he whined to see Momma Nim, that’s me. “Here he comes,” Raymond released the leash, and he traveled to me—leash trailing behind him. After a good love-in, he decided to go to the kitchen where Papa was cooking bacon. I released the leash and yelled, “Heads up, Raymond, here he comes.”
Barney promptly grabbed the end of his leash—secured it with a wad of strapping in his mouth, pranced into the kitchen, right past my husband and into the bedroom where he jumped on the bed.
He was now in charge of himself. He had the leash and that settled that. He likes to be in charge of himself. So do I.
It’s a constant battle to recognize that someone else—like my Heavenly Father—may have a better idea about how to do MY life than I do. My stubbornness isn’t usually intentional; it happens when I trust in my strength to do something. I move without consulting and wreak havoc or simply waste time while running in circles with a wad of leash in my mouth.
The reality is that I should be desperately seeking God’s presence and his will for every event—small and large.
His word says, “I am continually with Thee; Thou has taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:23-24.)
Ah yes, this is why I don’t want control. With Christ there is no leash. It is a journey birthed in relationship. I am with him continually; he has my right hand, and he will guide me. There is no one better to be managing my life than my faithful Father.
I just hope I can remember that the next time I am tempted to put myself in charge and grab the “leash” of control.