I recently bought a dog who I have named after my late Grandfather George. He is great company for me, but little did I know that George would bring confidence and healing to other dogs and their owners in our community.
One instance happened a few weeks ago as George and I were walking through the park and spotted a dog in the distance.
This dog sat silent and leashed, finding comfort tucked up safely to the side of her owner, as she wearily surveyed the park surroundings. George bounded gallantly towards her, his tail wagging voraciously. I had tried to call him back, but he ignored me and continued to close in on the other dog.
I was weary of George greeting other dogs without the owner’s permission, and especially if the owner’s dog was on a lead.
But, George loved greeting and playing with other dogs. Since he was a puppy he had been well socialised, meeting other dogs in puppy school, at the dog park, or on his regular outings. George was an outdoor dog, a high energy border-collie.
By the time I arrived at the scene, George had already reached the other dog, and was playfully circling her and its owner.
I apologised to the owner that my dog had failed to respond to my call. I told her that George normally responded, but since he was only a nine-month-old puppy, sometimes his behaviour was inconsistent. Perhaps this was typical of a dog reaching his teenage dog years.
The owner of the other dog introduced herself as Trish and told me that her dog was scared of other dogs. Her dog was a six-year-old rescue dog whom she had owned for about a year. It was raised as a farm dog but had not been much good at farm work, so had spent most of its life caged up.
Her rescue dog was great inside the house, but got very nervous when it was taken outside, away from its home.
I was taken aback. I could not imagine what it would have been like for a dog to have been caged most of its life. What a sad life for a dog.
My dog on the other hand had lived an abundant outdoor life. He loved running through the forest while I mountain biked, chasing seagulls on the beach and magpies in the park, catching a frisbee, chasing a ball and rescuing a stick from the sea. George was adventurous and because of his gregarious nature, was well known around the neighbourhood.
Trish commented that my dog seemed very friendly. She would love for her dog to be able to play with other dogs, but was afraid her dog would attack the other dog, if she let it off the lead.
I reassured her that George was used to playing with other dogs, was very quick on his feet, and it was unlikely that her dog would cause much damage.
After a bit of encouragement, Trish decided to let her dog off the lead.
As soon as she had taken her dog off the lead it bounded towards George, showing some signs of aggression. Unperturbed, George delighted in the approach, jumped backwards, crouched down, tail wagging. Her dog seemed confused by George’s antics, stopped and crouched down too.
Then, George picked up a stick and proceeded to run around her dog and play with her. For a few wonderful minutes they played together, no harm done.
Then all of a sudden, the playing stopped and her dog returned to the comfort of her owner’s side.
“That was really good,” Trish said. “I would be keen if we could meet up regularly so my dog could play with your dog.”
I said, “Yes, that sounds like a good idea.” Then I asked her, “What is your dog’s name?”
She replied, “Hope, her name is Hope.”
As we departed I looked at her dog again. It was sitting silently beside Trish, tail stiff but now there was something different about her. I noticed a slight sparkle in her eyes.
Yes, that’s right I thought. Her dog’s name is Hope.
As the world seems to be closing in on us and our freedoms are being taken away, lockdowns can feel like we are living in a cage. But, remember our freedom is not limited by what happens on this planet. We have a future hope way beyond what happens in this world – in eternity.
John chapter 3, verse 16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
If George, through his grace-filled playful nature, is able to produce a glimmer of hope in a rescue dog, so can we as believers bring hope to the world.
For those who do not know Jesus, may the freedom we have in Jesus produce a sparkle that ignites a spark of hope in those who don’t believe.
Isaiah chapter 60, verse 1
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
Wayne Graham worked in the media for more than 30 years before leaving to follow a call to set up The Daily Encourager, a values based media showcasing the best of New Zealand society. He has a passion for Jesus, enjoys walking, ball sports, the arts and song writing.