Today is National Dog Day.
Americans love their dogs. Over 54 million US households have a dog. Scott and I had the joy of dogsitting our “granddog” for several weeks this summer. As you can see from the picture, Alayna is a gorgeous German shepherd/huskie mix.
We were helping out our oldest son, Kevin and his beautiful wife, Michelle who just had a baby back in April (our first grandchild, Luke! ♥).
You guys, I love animals, but I’m more of a cat person. By the way, 42.9 million US households have cats. Despite being partial to cats, Alayna quickly stole my heart and taught me some spiritual lessons, too.
8 Spiritual Lessons Dogs Teach Us
1. Love Unconditionally
Dogs don’t care what you look like, how much money or influence you have, and they don’t judge. They just want to love and be loved. Even though Alayna missed her family, she quickly adapted to us. Hands down, she would choose affection over her food. And dogs love to eat!
And you know what? She loved her neighbor, too. And her neighbor’s neighbor … and anyone with a treat … or anyone who would pet her!
Wherever we went, people (strangers) were drawn to Alyana. And she treated each person the same.
People were drawn to Jesus, too. Why? LOVE.
As Christ’s ambassadors, may others sense Christ’s love from us wherever we go.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
2. Live in the Moment
Many dogs are extremely intelligent. But they only access learned information as it is needed—in the moment.
The past is gone. You can’t change it anyway. The future is up to the Lord. The only thing you can really enjoy and affect is the present moment.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
3. Express Gratitude
Dogs are the best at showing gratitude, aren’t they? Every time we grabbed the leash to take Alayna for a walk, she ran around and jumped. Each greeting was like she hadn’t seen you in weeks.
Dogs remind us that even though something may be routine, we have so much to be thankful for, beginning with the air in our lungs given to us by our heavenly Father.
“I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.” Psalm 7:17
4. Overcome Fear with Love
We’ve all heard those heartwarming stories about a frightful, aggressive dog who transformed into a kind, gentle dog after they were placed in a loving home.
Dogs can overcome their fear and insecurities through love, and so can humans.
The love of God transforms people! All we must do is let Him. We must give over our fears and insecurities to God and He exchanges them with his love.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
1 John 4:18
5. Don’t Hold Grudges
There were days that we weren’t able to take Alynna for her walk. She never snubbed us for it. She was just happy when we did take her out. I think humans might be the only species that hold grudges—well, for the exception of cats! LOL! Hey, I have two cats of my own, but they certainly have a “catitude.”
Holding a grudge makes us sick. It weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward in life and in our spiritual growth.
I know it isn’t always easy to forgive. When I struggle with forgiveness, I remind myself that Christ forgave me and even died for me.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:18
Dogs and kids love to play. And sometimes it takes that innocent wisdom to remind us, that we need to play.
“So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
7. Get Enough Rest
Dogs know when it’s time to rest. No one has to force a dog to take a nap. But humans—we need to be reminded to take care of our most basic needs. God even rested on the seventh day, people. Alayna reminded me it’s important to take a weekly Sabbath.
“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2: 2-3
8. Be Open to Adventure
Alayna got Scott and me out of the house more. We took her for daily walks, three hikes, and a few road trips. Dogs don’t shy away from adventure the way humans do. Open the car door and a dog bolts inside.
God often calls us to take an adventure with Him—to do something out of our comfort zone. This is where spiritual growth will occur.
“Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
We returned our granddog a few weeks ago, but her lessons live on.