We’ve all heard the saying, “God, help me be the person my dog thinks I am,” and immediately identified with it.
If you have a dog, you know it’s true. No matter what, they love to be near us, to see us, to hear our voices. They are eternally grateful for the least bit of affection, and consider themselves unworthy of our love. But the truth is, you can’t out love a dog.
In the book Thirteen Months, I described Baxter, my daughter Wendy’s dog who lived with us for years before she married. Baxter loved my wife, Gwen, and spent as much time as he could with her. They were best friends and ‘snuggle buddies’ whenever he was lucky enough for her to sit down for a minute.
When Gwen was diagnosed with cancer, Baxter knew something was wrong, and went into comfort mode. I don’t know what God designed into dogs that allows them to see things we can’t, but it’s amazing.
If she needed cheering up, Baxter was there on top of her, lying on his back so she could scratch his tummy as he wiggled around in ecstasy. On the days she was in pain or nauseated he would stay close by her side, not crowding her or trying to climb onto her lap.
The morning of the day Gwen passed away, Baxter refused to move from her. He sat with his head resting quietly on her leg, and as long as she was able, she would reach down and scratch his ear, or smile at him when he looked up at her. When she reached the point that she wasn’t coherent, Baxter knew—he no longer gazed at her or expected attention. He was just there for her.
I will not forget that first night without her, as he sat on the edge of the bed looking at the bedroom door, waiting patiently for her to come walking back into the room—but she didn’t. He sat there day after day, watching—waiting, never losing hope—for weeks.
Andi and Jason now have a dog name Max that is quite young, while Baxter would be considered an old guy now. They don’t get along very well mostly because of their ages—Max has more energy than any living creature should be able to have. It sometimes gets in his way.
But no matter which dog is there when I walk into the room, they both act as if they haven’t seen me for years, when in fact I just walked to the bathroom.
I wonder sometimes why dogs treat us the way they do. I realize that they have a very important quality that we humans do not possess—the ability to be completely blind to our faults. I don’t know if they choose not to see the negative things about us, or if perhaps God has not allowed them the ability to do so.
Either way, my dog puts me to shame in this category. I confess that my focus far too often is on the minor, undesirable qualities of a person rather than the significant good they bring to every situation. I’m sorry this is true, and it’s unacceptable to God. He sees the good in us even when we cannot—even when Satan has convinced us there is no hope for us.
Perhaps my prayer should be, “Lord, help me to see the person you see when I look at them.” If I can do that, I will be one step closer to being the man God wants me to be—and the man my dog already thinks I am.