Good Shepherds

My dog went to church today, and it isn’t St. Francis Sunday. Mother Kay used as a sermon illustration for the good shepherd. Ash is a seven year old Australian Shepherd, who used to have a job, working with our sheep. Now she tries to herd the neighbour’s cats, who just aren’t into it.

I must say that she has come a long way from the year old flibbertigibbet she was when I got her – eating my boots, chewing through power cords, breaking leashes and in general being a very bad dog. She walked into church on a lead, with Mother Kay, and that choir moved right along ahead of her. She wasn’t taking nonsense from them! If one of them had tried to break and run, she would have been right on her.

She sat at the front, calmly surveying the flock in the pews. But once she spotted me, she kept a close eye, just in case I needed her to do something important. After the sermon, she trotted down to me, lay under the pew and put her head down. She came to the altar rail at communion, and sat behind me. The parishioners hadn’t dare get out of line while she was there!

I’d say she was an excellent ilustration of how the Great shepherd of our lives turns us into faithful sheepdogs, obedient and alert, if we let Him. Honestly, I almost gave up on that dog in the first six months. But she settled down, figured out that I had her best interests in mind, and excused all my faults. (Which is a bit different from our relationship with Our Saviour. The fault is all on our side.)

I was proud of her, not in a proprietary way (I hope) but because she has fulfilled her potential as a sheepdog, and as a companion animal. She is faithful and trusting, accepting without question what she is given. It’s an excellent example to follow in Christian life!


3 thoughts on “Good Shepherds

  1. Sometimes critters are Christ greatest sermons aren’t they? Oh the chewing I well remember with our dog Merrie Jo! In one day along she ruined the speakers on the computer by chewing through the wire and she chewed through the phone line. she was a mess as a puppers! But what a sweetheart!

  2. Magdelaina,

    I couldn’t help but smile at your article; The metaphores for the Christian walk and our relationship with God are unnumbered when one has a guide dog!! From the times when Aaron steps in to keep me safe, to those times when I do not ‘listen’ to him and wind up coming face to face with a bollard or lorry mirror, to those times when my heart simply melts at the undeserved, and unconditional love he has for me… Though he doesn’t herd them at church, He’ll groan or snore loudly at appropriate (or otherwise) places, and, is a well behaved guide at communion, sitting obediently, lying down when bidden; he only begged for bread upon the first occasion, performing a naughty but cute half-stand as the minister passed me the bread then giving labrador eyes before I snapped the leash and commanded him to lie down, whereupon he proceded to hoover up the crumbs from the carpet; needless to say, second time around, he lay there like the proper well obedient guide dog; what’s that section in the communion service within the prayerbook about dogs gathering crumbs from under the table?? A friend and I couldn’t help but chuckle after the service…

    Your fellow sounds like a sweetie, a keeper, like my last guide dog, Zenia; there were many occasions when I could have thrown in the towel and simply retired her like that, but, I stuck with her and though testing, our time together was incredibly rewarding; she was the only one of her ciblings who graduated as guide dogs not to be sent back early.

    I think there are numerous metaphores in me sticking with her until the retirement age rather than sending her back as did the others, that illustrate the fact God sticks with us, regardless of our antics when we know better… that undefineable unconditional love…

    My ‘church in Social Context’ teacher has taken to asking ‘what would Aaron say’? (my current guide dog of just seven weeks from first receiving (we were brought together on 8 March, and after jcompleting a month’s training in two weeks, we were let loose on society…

    You’d agree with much of what my church in social context teacher says; He’s pushing the feminist theologian Elizabeth Schluzzla (can’t even begin to spell her middle name) Fiorenza… (ESF) What do you think of her? Has she thrown the baby out with the bathwater?

    I’d just like to stick with your initial recommendation, Rosemary Rutherford Ruther, but she’s not on the reading list for this topic, though I think you’d like a lot of what is taught.



    • My girl did herd sheep, and she can’t help trying her skills on groups of people, sometimes much to their surprise! I did start to train her as a guide dog, as you know, and she did well, but Nicholas has never really bonded to her. His problem is depth perception and a blind left side, and I still think a dog on the street to alert him to curbs, gutters and grates would give him more mobility. He has seen a neuro-opthamologist, and the condition is not repairable, so he is left post-stroke with a rare vertical gaze palsy.

      Fiorenza is familar to me from university. I find her very post-Christendom, and Catholic. (Which is probably why you got her in class!) I haven’t read her latest things, so can’t really say, but she’s intelligent and even-handed. You can get a lot out of reading her, even if you don’t agree. I found that she led me on thought paths I wouldn’t have otherwise taken – quite provoking! (I think the middle name is Schussler.) It does sound like an interesting class.

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