Saturday, January 12, 2013

Horses, Humans, Dogs and God

There is a reason that so many people love horses and dogs. They’re a lot like us. In some ways, they’re even more admirable than us because once a horse or dog loves you they will give you the type of unconditional devotion which is beyond the capacity of most humans. Dogs have been known to travel across country to reconnect with their owner.  They’ve also been known to stand vigil over the resting place of a deceased owner. Horses have even been known to run themselves to death unless their owner stops them.  I always knew that unlike any other species of domestic animals horses and dogs are uniquely suited to be human companions. However, until last night I never really stopped to think that the relationship between horses and dogs to their human masters is analogous to our relationship with God. 

Last night I watched an interview with a cowboy from Riding High Ministries.  During the interview they aired a video clip in which the minister/cowboy presented an illustrated message on the relationship between God and man while teaching an untamed horse to trust him.  His message immediately resonated with me.  It is only when we trust God and allow Him to take the reins of our life that we can be totally fulfilled.

This morning, during my prayer time, the message became even clearer. While asking God for his forgiveness and understanding of my numerous shortcomings He revealed to me just how much our relationship to Him is similar to that of a horse or dog to his owner. Horses and dogs live to please their owners. If you’ve ever seen the joy in your pet’s eyes when they successfully learn a new trick, you know what I mean. However there are also times when young animals want to please their owners but are completely confused by the instructions.  Their capacity to understand their owner’s mind is limited.  If you’ve ever had to house train a puppy you can relate to this too.  I’m sure people who train racehorses understand this perfectly. 

If you are a Christian you’ve probably heard the phrase that “King David was a man after God’s own heart” and wondered how a man who was obviously so flawed could be so loved by God.  Now I get it.  It wasn’t as important how many times David failed God that matter the most.  What was most important was the fact that David always wanted to please God and when he failed was willing to be corrected.  In fact, when David failed he always ran to God and not away from Him like the puppy that crawls back to you after you’ve scolded them for chewing your shoes.

Another way that humans are like our animal companions is in the uniqueness of our personalities.  Consider how horses and dogs differ according to the characteristics of their breed. In fact, it has often been said that a person’s choice in pets is a reflection of their personality.  My favorite dog breed is the Terrier.  My first dog was a cross between a Parsons Terrier and a Wirehaired Fox Terrier that my parents adopted from the ASPCA.  Chipper (pictured at right)   was the best friend any little girl could have and true to his breed: affectionate, brave, and loyal to one master.  Of course, that last trait can be a positive and a negative trait when you consider a family pet.  Terriers will often attach themselves to one member of a household and ignore commands from other family members.  The following is a description of the breed traits of Wirehaired Fox Terriers courtesy of

 Very intelligent they can be taught to perform tricks. This is a relatively dominant, very high energy dog that can become stressed and frustrated without the proper type and amount of exercise both mental and physical. They not only need their bodies exercised but their minds as well. It is paramount; you are this dogs 100%, firm, consistent pack leader. If the dog has meek owners, and they allow this terrier to take over the home, developing Small Dog Syndrome, they will begin to display varying degrees of behavior issues. The issues may include, but are not limited to, dominance challenges, guarding objects or places or even their own food from the owner, excessive barking, jealousy, separation anxiety, destructiveness, dog aggressiveness, willfulness, growling, snapping, biting, untrustworthy with kids and sometimes adults. They may become ready to charge at all times, scrappy and impulsive, as they attempt to defend THEIR top position in the alpha order. These are not Fox Terrier traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way the dog is treated by the people around them. These behaviors can be corrected as soon as the dog's instincts are met. Stable, firm, consistent rules to follow, limits to what they are and are not allowed to do, along with a daily pack walk or jog.”

Sounds like some people we all know, doesn’t it?  

By nature horses are herd animals that follow the lead of their lead stallion or mare. Dogs are pack animals, which follow the lead of the alpha male and/or female. Life our animal counterparts humans are social creatures programmed to follow the lead of an alpha leader.  The question is, who’s your Alpha?

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