We just got a new puppy! He’s a little bigger now than in this photo, and it’s time for him to learn some manners. It’s important to dogs to know where they stand in the family pack. A dog who thinks he’s dominant over other family members can be dangerous though he may have a naturally gentle temperament.
Dogs don’t mind not being the top dog. They just need to know. One big indicator of pack order to a dog is who goes through the door first. And puppies want to go everywhere first. I’m not sure they’re trying to assert their dominance at this stage–they’re just excited to be going somewhere. Still, it’s the beginning of training for our little guy (well, second to knowing where not to piddle).
So Reagan is having to learn how to wait. Ouch! Poor Reagan. I tell him to sit. Sometimes he does. Then I give him a wee tiny treat. (Reagan is a BIG chow hound.) He gets all excited about his treat and jumps up and down–then he has to sit again. This time I might not give him a treat because it almost seems counter-productive–but then sometimes I do, because he’s so cute and funny. After awhile, he’ll sit for a few moments and I’ll slowly and (I hope) authoritatively say s-t-a-y as I reach behind me to unlatch the door. As soon as he hears the hinges start to squeak, he jumps up and lunges toward the door, all bounces and floppiness. “No, Reagan. Sit!” And we start all over again. (We don’t go through this routine first thing in the morning when he has to go r-e-a-l bad.) It’s a big deal, doing this every time the puppy needs to go out. I hope he gets it soon.
Our older dog is good about this. I tell her, “Back,” and she steps back and waits. Sometimes I let her just follow me since she knows not to go first, and sometimes I make her wait until I call her to come out with me. It makes sense when you think about it. The pack leader needs to go first. What if there are dangers out there? How will he/she protect the weaker members of the pack if they always insist on going first? And what if the leader has other plans for the day beyond the usual? How will the pack know if they’re all running off in their own directions? I’m sure you can see where this is going.
It’s our natural (fallen) instinct to run out of that door and do whatever we want to do. The Master can follow and bless whatever it may be we’ve gotten involved in. Sometimes He does, but if He really wants us doing something else, or if He’s decided we’re “big enough” to learn some manners, He may decide not to.
If you look back, you might see Him waiting at the door for you to come back and let Him go first. That’s a hard thing for all of us ‘self-made’ men and women to do. We’re used to taking charge, making it happen, if it is to be, it’s up to me. We think that’s virtuous. But is Jesus rolling His eyes and saying inwardly, “Puppies!”? Don’t be a puppy–don’t be a weak and weary lost sheep. Come back to the door and let the Shepherd lead you out into green pastures by still waters. He has plans for us, but if we insist on running out ahead of Him, we’ll never know what they are.
The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”
(John 10:2-5 HCSB)