Friday, December 18, 2009

Lessons From Shadowland

I love my dog. His name is Shadow, and he's a beautiful Golden Retriever/Collie mix. My kids named him after the gentle Golden Retriever from the Homeward Bound movies from a few years back -- and for good reason. He is just like him. He has the perfect temperament for children. He's playful when they're playful, and he becomes totally mellow when it's time to settle down.

I always let Shadow out first thing in the morning into a section of our yard that I built just for him. We lovingly refer to this area as "Shadowland." He usually runs right out the door and into the yard. But on one particular morning, just as he was about to dart out into the yard, he stiffened like and board and for a split second the hair on his back raised straight up. I was puzzled by his actions and I looked out to see what was going on, just in time to observe a family of ducks waddling through the yard.

Shadow is a Retriever, so his nature is to pursue these hapless creatures and bring them home for dinner. I looked down at Shadow and noticed that he had relaxed slightly. He looked back at me with those sad Golden Retriever eyes, as if to say, "Everything in me wants to go after those ducks, Dad. But I know that would displease you, so I'm not going to do it."

I was filled with so much love for Shadow at that moment. I got down on one knee, hugged his neck and said, "Shadow, you are the best dog in the world."

Once the ducks were safely out of the yard I let Shadow out into the yard and began getting ready for my day. But throughout the next hours that moment kept playing again and again in my mind.

You see, Shadow wasn't always so obedient. We live on a busy street and I won't allow the dog to go out in front of the house. When I work on the front yard, I often leave the garage door open and Shadow wanders out to watch. He knows he is not allowed in the front yard and so he sits at the edge of the garage with his paws right on the line where the concrete driveway meets the house. He knows what his boundaries are, and he usually obeys ... Read the entire article.

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