Upcoming FBC EventsZumba Class
Thursday, Jul 31 at 5:30 pm
5K Planning Team
Sunday, Aug 03 at 11:45 am
Men of Faith
Friday, Aug 08 at 6:15 am
ABY Back to School Bash
Sunday, Aug 10 at 3:30 pm
Revision Worship Service
Sunday, Aug 10 at 6:00 pm
Four Seasons Mending
Wednesday, Aug 13 at 9:00 am
Blood Pressure Screening
Sunday, Aug 17 at 9:00 am
5K Planning Team
Sunday, Aug 17 at 11:45 am
Sunday, Aug 17 at 6:00 pm
Tuesday, Aug 19 at 1:00 pm
What I'm Learning in Dog Obedience Class
Boomer, our Welsh Pembroke Corgi, has been part of the family now for just over one year. He is a smart, energetic, enthusiastic and very strong willed canine. We love him dearly, but he can be a challenge.
Lori reminds me that in convincing her we needed a new puppy I said, "having a dog makes me a better man". That reminder may have come after Boomer chewed through the kitchen dry wall or defaced some other portion of our personal property! Boomer does things our former, and now increasingly revered Corgi, Buster, never did. He jumps and climbs on the furniture like a goat. He jumps on all our guests and grabs at their hands with his sharp teeth. He defies our commands and ignores our calls to quit barking at anything that moves in the neighborhood. He has been affectionately referred to as our "devil dog".
Finally, this summer, enough became enough and we signed Boomer up for dog obedience training. Which, of course, means that we too are in training. At the first class session I knew I was in the right place when the trainer came out wearing a t-shirt that said, "Lord, make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am". This has been a prayer that I have owned as my own, but forgotten with Boomer.
As the class commenced and Boomer, proving his intelligence, quickly took to the various commands and expectations; I was struck by the power of praise. Our trainer believes that only praise is needed to train a dog - not treats or other rewards. So, when the dog sits you reach down and praise it with both touch and words. When the dog heels and sits, you affirm the response to those commands with praise. In return the dog is eager to earn more praise and obey additional commands.
I've been known to "shame" my dog - a lot over the past year - rather than praise him. As a result he sometimes looks at me with the expectation of being condemned. Dog obedience class, so far, has taught me that expecting condemnation is vastly different than expecting praise. Turn the expecting to receiving, and the results are extraordinary. Boomer thrives with praise. Most of us do.
Martin Copenhaver, a United Church of Christ Pastor and co-author of the book This Odd and Wondrous Calling, writes about taking his dog to obedience class. He, as it true with our experience, was encouraged to practice the commands being learned at home between classes. So, as he walked his dog, he was working with it, giving strong commands and following through with the movements and tone that had been encouraged. A neighbor took note of this and was aghast that a minister would talk with his dog so stearnly. She was so upset that she called a member of the church board and reported the behavior, saying: "If he talks to his dog like that, how does he talk to his congregation?".
That story, along with my own recent eye opening expereince in obedience class, has given me pause of late. Lord, help me be the person/pastor my dog/congregation thinks I am.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . ." Romans 8:1 (NIV)