My dog, Molly, has had quite the year. With the sudden death of our other dog, the death of our neighbor’s dog, and the death of a rabbit in the backyard that Molly used to “hunt” (and no, she did not kill it), we found that her personality suddenly changed.
In some ways, her confidence had grown and we’re appreciating a side to her that she has never-before shown to us. On the other hand, her fear had grown for different things. We used to describe her as a “lab stuck in a tiny, fluffy body,” but now this little Bichon is afraid to go in our backyard.
Perhaps something startled her one day in the grass, but regardless, she hates going in the backyard for whatever reason. Highly energetic, she used to love playing outside and would ignore our calls for her to return into the house (unless food was involved). Now, trying to get her to do her business outside is almost like pulling teeth. If I don’t go outside with her, she’ll simply refuse to leave the deck or will walk on the mulch that surrounds our pool — resisting entering the grass with every fiber of her being.
Granted, I’ve been able to get her to do her business in the grass within a couple of minutes of being let outside, but getting to that point was incredibly challenging. As soon as she’s done, she charges towards the back door to be let inside the house. If she doesn’t have to be in our backyard, she won’t go outside.
This afternoon, I attempted to make the backyard a “fun” place again. With Molly being food-motivated, I tried coaxing her into the grass with different dog treats. Although she did enter the grass, she would return very quickly to the deck. After a couple of minutes of thinking, I let Molly back into the house while I hid one of her favorite toys in the yard.
One of her favorite games to play is searching for a stuffed animal that we’ll hide in the house, so I hoped that hiding this same toy in the backyard would encourage her to enter the grass again.
Sure enough, it worked! Hesitant and nervous at first, her love for the game motivated her to explore the backyard again. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw her running through the grass (besides running to the house so she wouldn’t have to stay in the grass). Granted, I think it will take multiple weeks of playing this game to help her get more comfortable with the backyard again, but it’s worth it.
So why did I share this story with you about a dog who is afraid of doing her business in a backyard?
Because of patience.
I absolutely adore my dog. Being a human, I understand that having Molly go outside to do her business and play is a good thing for her. But because she doesn’t understand that, she’s resisting this help. And believe me, there have been challenging moments when I’ve needed to be somewhere for a meeting, and that dog would not go to the bathroom. Regardless, I can have one of two attitudes: either I can become frustrated with her and scold her, or I can patiently encourage her and try to make this a positive experience.
Some of you may have someone pop into your mind as you’re reading about patience. You love this person to death, but my goodness, it’s so frustrating when they __________________. Or, perhaps there are situations where your inner-Hulk is ready to tear through the traffic jam in front of you, and you wonder if you’re capable of single-handedly lifting a semi-truck out-of-the-way with how frustrated you are. Even when it’s challenging and we really don’t feel like it, we’re called to be patient.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Patience is hard, but that doesn’t mean we’re called any less to practicing it. Whether it’s patience with others, with life circumstances, or for the dreams that we have, choosing to have an attitude of patience can drastically impact the outcome of whatever situation we’re in.
As we go about the rest of the week, I want to encourage you to practice having patience. No matter what we all may encounter within the next few days, we can have patience with those around us. And with God’s help, we can truly honor Him in how we respond.