My Dog is a Cat

My dog is a cat, a “scaredy-cat.” And I have been violating the first rule of teaching with him lately: do not be mad at the sheep for being sheep.

This past week, my dog, Garrett, has developed a deep fear of storm water drains. When we get near them, he pulls away from me and digs in. On a good day, I talk to him, calm him down and we ease forward. But on a bad day, at the end of a long walk and multiple episodes, I begin to loss my temper.

This violates the very first thing I learned about teaching: it does no good to be mad at “sheep” for not knowing things, for having a limited perspective or for being truly scared. And it also violates the heart of “the good shepherd.”

In Psalm 23, the aspect of God that brings the writer comfort is God’s guidance and protection. The Psalm compares God to a shepherd and says, “your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (v. 4). These tools are used to guide sheep and to protect them. They are instruments of teaching and also weapons of defense.

What my dog needs, what any student who needs to learn or any who is fearful needs from time to time, is guidance and safety. Instead of getting mad, it is better to teach and protect.

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