‘My Dog’s Personal Space’

I’ve never had kids, but I am a doting doggie daddy.  We’ve had Katie for a little over two and a half years now, and she’s an absolutely beautiful, sweet-tempered dog.  I spend a lot of time trying to ‘communicate’ with her.  I’m ‘sure’ she loves me, and I’m ‘sure’ she knows I love her – but it would be great to just have a few sentences in a common language to express it directly.  Alas, it’s not to be – it’s not quite the way we were designed.  We just have to ‘know‘ the love is there.

She has various ailments – so I sometimes have to poke, prod, check, and apply ointments.  She just stands there patiently.  She doesn’t understand what I’m doing, but she ‘knows‘ I’m trying to help her.

Just now I was noticing her limp a little, and I felt her shoulders and noticed a significant difference in the warmth over one of her shoulders as compared to the other.  What was she thinking?  Maybe she thought it was a strange way of petting her, with both of my hands rubbing each shoulder at the same time.  Maybe she was just focused on the attention, and maybe she could tell that I was trying to figure out why one of her shoulders hurt – but in any case I’m confident she ‘knew‘ that I was doing it out of love.

It’s fun to catch a glimpse of her in a mirror, when my back is turned, and watch her follow me with her eyes.  She’s always doing that.

We’re almost always in the same room – because she follows me everywhere – and if I look over, she’s sure to look back.  If I say something to her, Lucy (my wife) has gotten into the habit of answering for Katie in a cute little ‘doggie voice’.  I find it amazing that I can get completely carried away in these ‘conversations’ that I get to have with my dog.  (Thanks Lucy.)  It’s silly, I know, but a lot of fun.  And the whole time Katie’s staring at me – and I ‘know‘ she loves me.

Sometimes, when she’s up on my bed, I like to kneel down, put my chin on the bed, and to stare at her close up.  If you know your dog psychology, you know the problem that comes up when my face gets too close.  Most times, she’ll look away.  It’s not really a ‘personal space’ thing, it’s just that a dog is simply hard-wired to look away as a sign of submission.  But I just want to stare – to adore – nose to nose – as closely as possible.

So – getting back to us humans for a moment – how do we respond to God when he wants to ‘kneel down’, get up close, and stare directly into our eyes?  When he wants to let you know he loves you – personally – and not from somewhere distant, but nose to nose?  Are we hard-wired to look away at that point?  Is it too intimate?

Personally, I know I’ve turned away many times at that point.  I’m not sure why – but I hope to get better.  For God’s sake - to pay Him back for all He does for me – I hope that I can learn to control myself sometimes and maintain the stare - close up – intimately – adoringly – nose to nose.

Because sometimes, for just a little while, I get to stare into Katie’s eyes – without her turning away – and it’s the closest we ever get to speaking the same language and simply saying ‘I love you’.


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