The art of settling

Miss Lucy settling in on the sofa. Miss Lucy settling in on the sofa.[/caption] If you have ever taken a dog to be trained, you know that both you and the dog learn a lot of commands.  Many we learned were what we had expected, “sit”, “stay,” and “down”.  But one that was new to me was “settle.”  In obedience school we learned that settle was similar to down in that the dog was to lie down on the ground, but its intent was different.  In a down position the dog usually has its head up and paws pointed down in an alert and ready position.  In “down” Lucy would keep her eyes watchful, ready to jump back up at a moments notice.  However in settle we would get Lucy to roll over on her hip side a bit so that her back paws faced sideways.  It’s a position dogs take when they are going to chill out for a while and relax.  Settle. Settle proved a useful command for Lucy.  She was no longer afraid of us, but was still fearful of so many things:  thunder, fireworks, ceiling fans, and balloons (you got me on the balloons, maybe she heard one pop once?).  If any one of these triggers was present, she would pace nervously around and around never taking her eyes off the dreaded object.  In these moments we would come close to her and say “Lucy, settle.”  Then we’d stroke her back for a while to reassure her she was safe, we had her, she was going to be okay. I’m not sure at what point I switched from telling the dog to settle to giving that command to myself.  I think that the reason I’d connected with Lucy so quickly was that we had a similar spirit about us.  For there are certainly many times that I pace around nervously, overly focused on some object of my fear.  Much of the time this fear is about as rational as a dog being afraid of a ceiling fan.  But sometimes grace intervenes in my fear and I hear the command to settle.  The invitation comes to take a breath and relax.  To let my fists soften a bit and sink in.  For someone bigger and stronger than I am has got me.  God calls me out of my cage of fear and invites me to draw near.  I can look upon God’s face instead of my fear and remember that I really am okay after all. We had Lucy in our lives for ten years before she died a few years back at the age of 15.  She became such a brave and funny member of our family that I could write a whole blog on her adventures alone.  But one of my best memories of her is how tender she became in her old age.  She loved my husband, the man she once feared, wholly and devotedly.  Even when her hips were stiff and sore she would get up and stand by the door each night when it was approaching the time for him to come home.  And as she lost her hearing and her sight dimmed, she took to staying close to me more and more.  I’d take time during the day to pet her and tell her how great she was.  In these last days she was less about the ceiling fan or vacuum cleaner and more about settling in and lying close so she could look up into our faces and feel our touch. So in memory of our Lucy and in honor of the other dogs in our life, happy belated dog day.  Maybe you have a dog that has taught you important tricks as well?  Favorite dog stories anyone? [caption id="attachment_158" align="aligncenter" width="300"]One of our current love dogs enjoying being near his Daddy. One of our current love dogs enjoying being near his Daddy.[/caption]]]>

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