Our older dog hates Denver. Ok, I’ll put it out there and call him by name – “Blackie.” Let me begin with a disclaimer. I love him, but I don’t like his name. His name was left to the discretion of our youngest son, who being from another country, had a limited English vocabulary at the time he was given this dog for Christmas ten years ago. He wanted to name him Blackie. I tried to persuade him otherwise, but he was determined. Our African-American friends sometime give us a hard time (all in fun) about his name. I am, however, unsure if this name might be offensive to people I don’t know. When I call him to come in from the park across the street he answers to the “public” name I gave him – “Jackie.” It works. If he stubbornly procrastinates the trot home I add a surname – “You come here, Jackie Chan!” So, now I have finished the disclaimer and can tell you in truth, that Blackie despises Denver.
Blackie navigates a routine throughout his day to day activities. He has a path he travels each morning, a place for his naps and occasionally throws a ball in the air. He goes out at night and comes back to beg for his treat. He is obedient (most of the time) and is very easy to care for. He is independent, and to me caring for him is sort of like operating on “autopilot”. Life has been good for Blackie, even though he went through several weeks of adjustment after Jordan died.
And then – we interrupted his life with a “little brother.” Blackie quickly set the pecking order with the new pup; Denver takes a fully submissive posture (on his back) when Alpha dog, Blackie, cruises by. As Blackie approaches Denver, it’s as if he moves in slow motion, with a look of utter disgust…almost as if he wishes to throw up. Wow.
I guess he sees him as a nuisance, distraction to his routine, competition and just overall unnecessary and annoying. Hopefully, time will fill the “older brother” with some affection for the adorable little guy. Meanwhile, I try to be patient while trying to persuade Blackie to let Denver into his heart and life.
While it may seem really selfish and arrogant for Blackie to act this way, I realize how easy it is for me to “growl” and feel annoyed when my “routine” is interrupted by something or someone. I was once again challenged by my reading about Jesus. Jesus had tragically lost his friend and relative, John, who had been brutally killed. He was certainly heartbroken. Following this event, we read this account: Mark 6:30-34
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
I pray to be more like Jesus each day. To keep on giving when I want to “stride by and growl” because my routine and comfort get interrupted; to let others in when I feel my plate is full; and to be full of compassion when I’m tired or sad – and yet someone is in need.
And hopefully,… Blackie will grow fond of his little brother soon.