Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fence

As you've read in my blog, I love animals, and have grown especially fond of Labrador Retrievers. We've had three now, living in this house, with the newest addition being just months old.

King is something. He's curious, he's playful, he's obedient, he's smart (well, more on that later), he wants to please, but the one thing that he really is right now, is a puppy. A 50 pound puppy.

Those of you that have little dogs, like Pomeranian, miniature anything, can't relate to that statement, but imagine your little 6 month old Fifi with her cute little tricks and jumping around and cute little yappy bark that's just too sweet, in the body of a 50 pound 4 hand high, will jump up and look you straight in the eye, PUPPY! Yes, it's an experience that only large breed dog owners can relate to.

When King gets excited, the house moves, and everything IN the house moves. We didn't take anything down for the granddaughter, but we take it down for the PUPPY voluntarily, or it will involuntarily come down when he gets to romping and playing.

Well, he's just gotten too big to be in the house. That's all there is to it, so it's time to put him on the electric fence that we had installed after the first lab devoured $500 in chickens! (Do you have any idea how to price a good laying hen? Expensive lesson I didn't really care to learn!)

Invisible Fence is a wonderful, trustworthy, tried and true product. But, King, adorable as he is, dug up one of the wires in the flash of an instant and chewed it right in half. He obviously didn't have the receiver on, or he might not be with us today. I don't know. So, we got the fence people out here, and after a couple attempts, got the fence up and running again. Our fence was installed in 1995 and the technology has changed just a tad since then (imagine that), and I fought not to have the wonderful new system installed. But, by the time I was done, probably would have only had to pay a couple hundred more dollars and had a whole new system. Life is full of lessons.

So, the puppy is "on the fence." You spend the first week walking him up to flags that mark the fence and pulling him back. The collar would beep when he got too close. You try to make him understand where his boundaries are. When he exceeds his boundaries, you let him know with a stern pull on the lead and he responds. King was very quick to respond to this kind of training. He didn't want to displease me, so he figured out I didn't want him near the flags. Even when I would try to distract him, he wouldn't go within four feet of the flags.

The next phase puts him on the collar live. When he gets within so many feet of the receiver, a small shock is sent through the collar to the dog. It's not enough to hurt the dog, but they do yipe as the sound combined with the vibration scare them, but it doesn't hurt them. (Please, animal rights people, it's okay.)

You walk the dog in a zig zag pattern around the yard, reemphasizing the "safe" areas. If the dog gets into the fence, you let them come back into the safe zone and praise them highly.

King's first night on the fence was such a huge success. He just had to be walked into it once before he felt the twinge and heard the beeping and he was done. Enough for him. Flags mean stop here. He and I walked and walked the yard and he didn't make a single mistake. I dropped the lead and let him run just a little bit. Kind of outside the training, but he deserved a little bit of a reward. My husband had stepped outside to watch and King ran to him, just running and playing. Just as I was telling my husband how smart he was, the dog decided he was ready to go back in the house and headed for the patio door.

The CLOSED patio door.

Before he could stop himself completely when he realized the door was closed, the dog's full force of his 50 pounds hit the door.

My husband just looked at me and said, "You were saying?"

You know, it's a good thing God doesn't put a collar on me to keep me within my boundaries, to keep me from doing what I'm not supposed to do, or from going where I'm not supposed to go. My batteries would be dead all the time, I fear. They say that certain breeds of dogs will test the fence daily to make sure the boundaries are still there. I guess I do the same to God. I test my boundaries all the time.

God tells us that when we become His, we are to put the world as we knew it behind us. We shed that old life and put on a new life. A life of God. Colossians 3:8-10 "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

That's pretty powerful. "Renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Wow.

I once tried, fairly recently, to go through a single day without sinning. I didn't think 24 hours would be that big a deal, since I spent 8 of it sleeping. Should be able to do it. Just one day.

Well, like the little funny says, I was doing really good until I got out of bed. Seriously, though, I did fine until I got in my car.

Road rage.

Mean anything to you?

It does to me. I'm sorry, but about 75% of the population loses all sense when they get behind the wheel of a car. And, I'm the kind of driver that doesn't mind telling them about it. Anger, rage, malice (sound familiar). I knew the MINUTE I said something out loud to myself, such as, "You moron? Still asleep? You need to wake up and DRIVE!!!" that I'd sinned. The very second if flew out of my face, my collar went off and I knew...."OOOPS, Oh Lord, I have blown it already and it's not even 6:30 in the morning yet! Okay, I get the point, I will try again tomorrow."

Again, next day, just fine until I got in the car. The devil put everybody on the highway in front of me that had either no sense of urgency about them, didn't care that I was coming and just pulled out in front of me, or just about took out the side of me, on my way to work, lunch or home that entire week. I've never seen as many drivers get to me as they did that week. My collar battery was dead by Wednesday.

But, God doesn't really put a collar on us; instead, he sends the Holy Spirit to guide us gently and easily through lives trials and tribulations. A very good friend of mine, very wise and very learned in the Word, tells me all the time that the Spirit speaks to us a thousand times a day, in its still small and quiet voice, guiding us, directing us, helping us. All we have to do is listen and heed the Word, and we'll be better off. Follow the guidance - listen to the new self that is being renewed with God's teachings through the Holy Spirit continually and the rewards are great.

We don't need collars, thank the Lord, we just need to follow God's love, wisdom, and desires for our lives and live in the New Covenant that He's given us. We know our boundaries, they are very well defined for us. Watch for the flags and avoid the ways of the old life.

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