Monday, July 31, 2006

Bones and Belongings

When the Gracie girl came to stay with us (while my sister and her family vacationed in Germany), I wondered if the dogs would get along okay. I didn't question Gracie's compatibility with Elsie since they've romped together since they were pups, but I did have doubts about Baxter (maybe too boisterous) and Ridge (maybe too territorial).

I needn't have worried.

All three--Elsie, Baxter, and Ridge welcomed Gracie to the pack as if she were one of the their own.

And, believe it or not, they shared their prized possessions.

In ONE clean-up session I picked up forty-two bones and chew toys the dogs had scattered throughout the family room and laundry room (a sampling of which is recorded in these photographs). That number accounts for nearly the toy basket's entire contents. And, mind you, I do several clean-ups each day. :o)

Labs like to chew. I know that. But I didn't know they'd gladly share their toys.

If Elsie chomped away on a nylabone, Gracie would sniff it, then go pick something else out of the toy bin. Or she'd take the nylabone from Elsie, who would let her have it and would then go and pick out a new item on which to chew. This toy-selecting-toy-exchange process repeated itself over and over again, even with Baxter and Ridge. For the most part, none of the dogs complained or became possessive.

My herd here shared far better than most humans.

Hmmmmm...I wonder if there's a lesson in their my-bone-is-your-bone attitudes. Their freedom to share created enjoyment and pleasure for all four dogs: no pouting or jealousy; no rivalry or territorialism to create conflict.

Maybe their freedom comes from their confidence in our (my husband's and my) care and provision. We provide for them; they won't go without, and they know that. They won't go hungry. They won't lack for needed resources. They know they're loved and secure in their home. They trust us, so sharing with others poses no threat.

Do we share as well as they (or do we feel threatened)? Do we, like Baxter, Elsie, Ridge, and Gracie, hold our possessions (or territories or responsibilities or job descriptions...) loosely enough to surrender them? Do we have enough confidence to let go?

"But confidence in what?" you might rightly ask. Do we have enough confidence in the object of our faith (whatever our faiths may be); or in our families; or in our friends, spouses, employers, or abilities; or in our value, worth, and dignity--wherever our confidence rests? Security comes from many sources. What's yours? What's mine? And does that source provide enough security for me to hold loosely those things I hold most dear?

The canine kids seem secure enough to share their best bones and choicest chew toys.

Are you? Am I?

'Til next time,

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