They say dog is man’s best friend, but they’re wrong. It’s much deeper than that.
If you have known me long enough, you’ll probably have noticed how much I love my dog (some people would say that I’m obsessed…and I wouldn’t argue that). I remember at 9 years old receiving a letter in the mail from one of “Santa’s Elves,” saying that a miniature dachshund was headed my way.
I was pumped. And after narrowing name choices down to Amos and Rex, I decided to go with the latter.
Now, while I didn’t particularly know this at 9 years old, as I grew older I learned that the name Rex is actually Latin for ‘King’.
And that’s exactly what Rex has always been: a king. For 11 years he has been pampered, fed beyond his standards, and comforted at all times (and occasionally dressed like a King).
But to me, Rex has always had one outstanding kinglike quality: fearlessness.
Once he learned how to do one thing, he took it a step further. When he learned to walk up the stairs, he started running up the stairs; then he started jumping on couches; then on kitchen chairs to eat our food when we stepped out of the room for a moment. He has always been fearless.
Then he got kicked out of obedience school.
Yes. Pause a moment to take that statement in.
Rex was kicked out of obedience school.
When we noticed early signs of aggression, my parents thought it was best to take him to an obedience school once a week, hopefully to try and tame him. While every dog was busy learning how to sit, stay, and roll over, Rex was chasing the other dogs. Constantly. And biting them.
That’s my boy.
And my favorite story–though probably the darkest—was when we returned from Disney for a family vacation. Rex was about 3 years old, and had just spent the week in the kennel. Needless to stay, he was ticked.
We went to pick him up, and you could tell he was still shaken up from his concentration camp-like experience. He had lost weight and seemed very tentative towards us. So we arrive at home and put Rex down, and start unloading the car.
The second my dad puts him down, our 80-year old neighbor just happens to walk out of his house at that exact moment to get the mail. Rex, seeing an opportunity, just takes off towards him. He literally ran a 40 yard dash in 3.5 seconds. It was incredible.
The next 15 seconds were a blur. All I remember is an elderly man laying on the driveway, a pool of blood, and a now-content Rex skipping his way back to our house.
Over the past 11 years, I have seen this fearless dog almost every single day, not afraid to attack when you get near his food, not afraid to snarl at you when you irritate him, and apparently not afraid to maul an 80-year old man to get revenge on us. Yes, Rex has always been daring, courageous, fearless.
That is until a few days ago.
I was on the couch finishing up some homework, when I heard two paws hit the stairs and stop. Rex has quickly gotten older, so he now takes his time to make his way up and down stairs. To my surprise, however, I looked over and saw this:
He was stuck. And not only was he trapped on the stairs, he kept looking at me with this look of “Help.” Not a look I was used to with Rex.
After a few moments of attempting to build confidence to descend the steps, he gave up and just stared at me. So I came over, picked him up, and placed him at the bottom of the stairs.
Honestly, when this happened, I laughed. Rex has probably made me laugh more than most people have, and sadly that usually comes at his expense. But now that I look back, this was probably one of the saddest moments I’ve had in a long time, and definitely the saddest I have ever experienced with Rex.
It was the first time in my life that I have been forced to accept the fact that he isn’t the same dog he was 11 years ago: the little puppy that would lay with me all day when I was home with the flu; the easily-excited dog who would prance across the yard to see me when I got home after a long day at school; the comforting dog who licked my face and tears on days where I felt like nobody loved me.
But he was now—for a lack of better terms—a shell of himself. Something I have for so long had trouble accepting.
For the first time since getting him on my 9th Christmas, I realized he was no longer fearless.
As I write this, it saddens me to see old age and health issues begin to swarm him. He has gone from a carefree puppy to a dog trapped in fear, trembling every time he senses we’re about to leave and noticeably tensing up when a flight of stairs stands in his way. When he lies on the couch or on the floor throughout the day, he has a constant look of worry that we’re going to leave him. It is honestly hard to put into writing what fear and anxiety has done to him.
But at the end of the day, he’s a dog. A DOG. He doesn’t have a soul; he doesn’t have the opportunity to accept Jesus as his savior and witness to all the pets around the block. And he doesn’t realize why he’s living in fear; he just fears.
You and I are a lot different from Rex. We have fears, but we know why we have them. We have anxieties, but we know what causes them. We have worries, but we have the opportunity to decide if they are going to control us or not. Rex does not.
Don’t let fear define you. You have the decision to wake up and decide if fear will rule your day, if little worries will rob you of joy. YOU can make that decision. I pray that in your life today, whatever fear or apprehensions are holding you back, you will let go and allow God to invade those spaces with Himself.
I pray that when you come across a flight of stairs, you won’t get stuck; you’ll just go.