One of the best and most trying aspects of owning an Airedale “puppy” is Bruno’s relentless desire for affection and affirmation. In our household we joke that I finally have someone else who shares my primary love languages: physical touch and words of affirmation. If that’s true, I know now why I drive my wife and children as crazy as I do. As a little pup, this constant desire to be in contact with us and praised by us was adorable—less so when a fifty-pound dog (however young) piles into the back of your knees on the stairs, when he circles your feet while you are carrying groceries or sits on them while you are walking.
And sometimes I get impatient, forgetting he is not quite ten months old, and wish he would “move!” “get back!” or “go lay down!”
A week or so back I came home from work, and Bruno was waiting at the top of the stairs above our split-level front door, sitting lopsided on one hip with his big front paws on the first step down so he could better see who was coming. As I came up, he came down, making it nearly impossible to pass, and I told him to get back. He followed at my knee, nosed my hands as I sat to take off my shoes, then licked my pant leg.
“Bruno, go!” I barked.
I changed clothes and went into the living room. Bruno was lying on the floor, looking up with sad, dark eyes. I sat, and he stood. He walked in my general direction, not directly, stopping a few feet away to stre-e-e-etch—and wound up just inches away from my left foot.
Again with the dark eyes.
“Okay, bud, okay,” I said and slid to the floor. Bruno flopped onto my lap like a child, and as I scratched his head, neck and ribs, peace filled my heart.
It occurred to me in that moment that a dog brings with him a certain theology. Bruno is always waiting, always desiring to be close to us, always making his presence known. He desires only the good for us at whatever cost to himself, yet submits entirely to our will.
He loves us. And how do we respond?
In a minute.
Leave me alone!
Sound familiar? Do we speak of Dog or God?
Yet no matter how many times we turn our backs or push Him away, when we seek Him out, He is right there, waiting.
Man’s best friend indeed.
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