Toby first came to our home at the age of a year and a half, and he’d had little training. In fact, his behaviour was so awful that I tried to find a rescue place to take him. None would because of his history.
You might wonder how we ended up with him. His family couldn’t control him so tried to give him away, but the perspective owners returned him. My neighbor heard their plight and remembered me mentioning I’d like to have a Doodle and he called me.
I brought Toby home on a trial, and it hadn’t gone well. I told my hubby, “I’m not willing to let this dog’s bad behaviour win.”
I found an online trainer who teaches ‘Five Golden Rules’ and implemented them with Toby. He still went nuts when he saw any kind of delivery truck or uniform, but we saw a huge improvement within four months. After two-and-a-half years, he still only responds to the command to come occasionally.
Each morning when my hubby and I finish reading the Scripture and praying, our dogs go into their morning routine of asking/demanding their morning run. My hubby usually takes them to a nearby lake where they can run to their heart’s content.
Last Monday they returned from their run, and Toby was limping. I examined his front legs but found no sign of injury. A few minutes later, I noticed him watching me and knew something wasn’t right. I went over to examine him again and this time I spotted blood, not on his leg, but on his chest. As I examined closer in his long curly hair, I found a gaping wound.
I grabbed my purse, car keys, and beckoned Toby to follow me to the car. We drove the twenty miles to the veterinarian to find his regular vet and tech were on vacation.
I explained what had happened — he’d been running in a field, stopped, and yelped in pain. My hubby spotted rebar protruding about four inches from a gate. He thought Toby had injured his leg, as his fur was on the rebar, and he limped.
While I spoke with the folks at the veterinarian clinic, Toby leaned into me like a small child, but allowed the tech and vet to look at his wound and reluctantly let them take his temperature. The vet said, “We must clean it out and we’ll staple it so it can drain. We won’t put him under.” Having worked in an ER, I understood the process, and knew Toby would be uncomfortable, but we had to take care of him.
The vet and the tech both tried to get him to follow them to the back. They called him and commanded him to ‘come’, but he stayed at my side, leaned into me.
“Ask him if he wants l-o-v-e” I said spelling out the word.
The vet said, “Toby? You want l-o-v-e?”
No response. The tech understood what I meant, and she said, “Toby? Do you want love?”
He glanced at me, and I nodded and patted him. “It’s okay.”
He reluctantly followed them to the back.
He astounded both women when he responded to the offer of love. They cooed over him, petted him and fussed over him. The tech said, “That’s so sweet! He comes to love!” The vet said, “Oh my, how precious!” His response won their hearts.
On the other side of the door, I heard Toby cry when they were putting in the staples. I frequently hum or sing at home and he responds to my voice. I hummed, knowing he could hear me, and he immediately quieted.
I hadn’t taught Toby to respond to love. He taught me. He’d lean into me, or place his head in my hand and I’d say, “Oh, you want love?” When I’d told my hubby that he may never respond to ‘come’, but he would respond to, ‘do you want love,’ we played a game where we’d each love him, then the other would ask him and he’d go back and forth for love.
We share Christ when we have an opportunity. We could tell people that their choices are harmful or that their lifestyle is destructive. We could tell them there is something better. We could say, “Come to Christ.” That might work — probably not. But, if we offer love, maybe they’ll hear our message.
When you think about it, God gave mankind laws we’ve never been able to keep. So He offered His Son, who offered His love. What draws us to Christ? For me, it was him stretching out his arms. That act said, “Do you want love?”