Religion, relationships…and dogs?

On Sunday, my son & I attended church. We go to this great little non-denominational place, called Emerge Church. Sunday started off a series called Family Portriats. It is basically a series on how to be a Godly family, what is a “family”, etc. Now bear with me friends, I am not getting all religious or preachy on you, but this will be long. And I promise this will relate to dogs!

So as Pastor Wade (who is fab by the way…shout out!) discussed today, he talked about what makes a Godly family. There are all sorts of families. Traditional, blended, single parents…there are also those that we think of as family, even though they may not blood related. (see where I’m headed?)

Me, Jayden, & Lucy
Me, Jayden, & Lucy

After Sunday’s fantastic sermon, I got to thinking about who my “family” is. Pastor Wade was encouraging us to make the first step; to be the ones that give, instead of waiting for someone else to make the first move. This could, and should, really be how we treat all of our relationships & friendships. Including our relationships with our pets. Let me explain…

Characteristics of a Godly (& Doggie) Family: (disclaimer-I got the categories from Wade, so he deserves the credit. I only elaborated on how we can relate them to our pups!)

Acceptance (I want you, I choose you)-This should be simple. We chose our dogs…or maybe in a way, they chose us. But either way, we brought them in our homes, and decided to make them a part of our family. For the rest of their lives, we should be honoring that choice we made.

Affection (I love you)-Well who doesn’t want a little love every now & then?! Our dogs need affection from us. They want to know that they are pleasing their leader. We show them that by giving affection. Whether it’s a belly rub, a pat on the head, or a cuddly hug, they’ll take it!

Oscar loves to cuddle

Availability (you are important)-In any relationship, you have to be there, right? You have to show up when it counts. No matter how longs its been, or how far away you are, sometimes you just need to know that “that special someone” is there. This could be with a friend, a husband, a brother or sister. And our pets, too! I don’t know how it goes in your home, but my dogs will let me know when I am needed. Specifically around 6pm when Oscar thinks it is past his dinner time and he is going to starve to death. We have made a commitment to our pups, and we should be there for them. They should not be left outside, or stuck in a crate for 24 hours a day. They shouldn’t be starved or mistreated.

So…have you stuck with me? I hope so! Anyway, I think the next two are the most important when it comes to our relationships with our “family”.

Affirmation (I believe in you) (I’m proud of you)-This was my favorite part of the sermon. Pastor Wade explained why affirmation is important in our families. We need to tell our children, our brothers, our spouses, our friends…that we believe in them. That we support them. That we are proud of them. Not necessairily because they did something special, or completed an accomplishment. But because we love them, and sometimes they just need to hear it. Wade encouraged us to tell our children that we are proud of them, BECAUSE they are our children, and because we believe in what they are and can be. He said silence is the enemy…and that’s so true. Don’t we need to hear from our loved ones every now and then? Shouldn’t we continue following up with each other, instead of accepting answers as “fine”, “same ol same ol”, etc. Well, in a way, don’t our pets need this too? If you have ever taken in a rescue dog, I am sure you know that they need our affirmations. It is up to us, pet parents, to teach our dogs that they can trust in us. I’ve mentioned way to many a few times that Lola was my favorite foster pup. I think I loved her so much because she needed the most from me. She needed me to show her that I believed she was a good girl, no matter what issues she had or what her past was. If you remember my update on her, Lola’s mom mentioned this exact thing. She said they tell Lola every day what a good dog she is. (Is there any wonder that I love them so much?!) Ok, maybe dogs can’t completely understand us the way our human children can. But in my experience, dogs look to us for affirmations, just as often as we look to our loved ones for them.

Chelsea needed lots of reassurance from us!
Chelsea needed lots of reassurance from us!

Accountability (I am looking out for you)-“I’ve got your back!” “No matter what, my door is always open.” We say these things, but do we mean them? We hurt, and we get hurt. This happens in love, friendships, and family, right? Maybe this is what the “forgive and forget” saying is really about. Meaning, yes I got hurt, but you are my family, I love you, and still, I have your back. Sometimes that might include someone saying things you don’t want to hear. Or it might mean putting in hard work when ya don’t want to. Do you think I want to spend the money and time on a tutor for my son? I will be honest…no, I don’t WANT to. But I do it because I am looking out for him. Because I am his mom. Because I love him. I want him to succeed, and right now, we have to put in some extra hard work to achieve success. So, lets take this back to our pets…on the simple side, we take them to the vet, we give them monthly heartworm meds, we exercise them. But also, we train them. We teach them to walk properly on a leash; we help them get over anxiety issues; we socialize them. This is not because it is necessairily fun for us, but because we have their back. We want them to be valuable members of society. We are looking out for our dogs.

I told Sassy every day that she was learning to be a valuable member of society!
I told Sassy every day that she was learning to be a valuable member of society!

Ok, last one!

Appreciation (you’re significant)-How great would YOU feel if someone called you just to say that you were special to them? It’s not your birthday, or a holiday. Nothing major is going on. They just wanted you to know. And how wonderful would it feel for you to do that for someone in your family? It is important to let people know that they are special to you. Whether it’s by sending them a card, a text, or making a phone call…I am 100% certain that you will make their day. And again to bring it back to the pups…they appreciate us, no matter what. No matter how fat or ugly we may feel; or how much money may or may not be in our bank account; whether we are a negative nelly or a positive polly…they are thankful for us. Therefore, we should be thankful for them. We need to fully appreciate the absolute, unfailing love they give us. They deal with life’s changes that we through at them. They don’t care what kind of attitude we have. Dogs love us. Just because. Can you say the same for all relationships in your life, including the one with your furry friend?

So that being said…do you agree? Do you see how we can relate these characteristics to not only our family relationships, but to the way we treat our animals?

I have to give a quick shout out to Pastor Wade. I know he reads my blog every now & then, and I’m hoping he isn’t offended that I related his sermon to family pets. Thank you for the inspiration, Wade! (If you would like to listen to Wade in action, check out the church’s website. You can listen to past sermons. “Digging Ditches” is a great one, too! Click here for more info!)

Well, let me know what you think! I thank you for sticking with me through this long post! Have a great day! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Religion, relationships…and dogs?”

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