Our new puppy Max was no god.
The shepherd mix was my 5-year-old’s favorite playmate when his brothers weren’t around. Seth’s early experiences with his friend, however, were painful. Max nipped at fingers, making Seth pull his hand back. My son soon came inside with a frown, sliding the glass door between him and his pet.
Dog Training 101
I reminded Seth that Max was still a baby and didn’t understand that bites hurt. Then I gave him some pointers. “When he nips at you, stop playing, pat his nose and say no.”
It seemed to work for a while, then from my kitchen window I saw that repeated no’s only made Max more playful. Nose tapping became part of the game.
I called Seth in again, recognizing he needed a little more help with puppy training. “Sometimes you should tell him he’s doing a good job. You wouldn’t like to hear no all the time, right? When he does something right you should praise him.”
A little later I checked up on them. I found Seth on his knees, bowing toward his attentive puppy, hands tightly clasped as if in prayer, saying “Praise you, praise you, praise you” —to the dog!
Max cocked his head, trying to figure out how to make this new game more fun, while I seriously questioned my ability to communicate.
A Better Teacher
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long . . . Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psalm 25:4-5 and 8-9 ESV).
God patiently teaches us his ways, and for that I’m forever grateful. Where would we be if my kids had only experienced my not-always-great parenting skills?
by Kathy Sheldon Davis