Follow Us

What My Dog Has Taught Me

My dog Asha is the best dog ever – she has so many friends. But she is 12 now – what is that 84 in dog years? Though she is healthy, I guess she doesn’t have much time left. She has taught me a lot in her short life. Here are a few of the lessons: Belonging: The pack is essential. Our belo…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

My dog Asha is the best dog ever – she has so many friends. But she is 12 now – what is that 84 in dog years? Though she is healthy, I guess she doesn’t have much time left. She has taught me a lot in her short life. Here are a few of the lessons:

Belonging: The pack is essential. Our belonging to it is a part of our identity. A lot of our problems can be traced back to the fact that we aren’t really a part of a pack.

Daily Routines: Early on, Asha taught me the importance of a daily routine that included a morning walk and then a trip to the office. There she made her rounds and greeted all those in her pack.

Alignment: When we walk together, she checks in every 10 seconds or so, looking up at me for her cues. She teaches me to do the same thing with God.

Consolation: When someone is sick, she senses it and ministers with presence, sitting close to them or on their lap.

Eye Contact: She has a soulful stare, reminding you how important connection is.

Attitude: She’s always the happiest one in the room and checks in to make sure others are happy too.

When I’ve been away on a trip, Asha still gives me the kind of greeting that says, “Master, I’ve missed you so much. You know that I’ve been looking out the window for you every day. I knew that it was my job to guard the house and protect the pack in your absence and now that you’re back, we can share that job.”

Loyalty is rare these days. If you’ve ever had a loyal dog who acted like you were the most important thing in her life, and if you ever dreaded the day that you would one day say goodbye, then you know what I feel when I contemplate the way I see her aging.

Studies show that having a dog is one of the best things you can do for yourself as you get older. Those of you who have had one like Asha, what has been your experience?

Comments (12)

  • My Yorkie, Kenna, is currently 15 years old and has taught me all of the things you mentioned Seth! I was gifted her during my last year of college when she was only 3 months old. She’s been my constant companion over the years. The longest I was away from her was on my World Race a few years ago. She is now almost completely deaf and has heart issues that cause her to faint for a few seconds when she gets overly excited. Unfortunately, it is now every other day. She is on medication for it, but the vet says it is something we have to live with for whatever time she has left, months or years. To be honest, 2020 was one of our best years because we got to spend so much time together. Lots of long walks that many times conclude with me having to carry her home. I am grateful for the gift from God that she’s been to me and the lessons she’s taught me over the years without saying a word.

  • I have always loved every dog, I have ever had. Some of the things you listed, I had never thought of. Now, that I have buried my pack( all my family except a few distance cousins). I am looking to have another pack of friends who are like family. This is an amazing post, one that I will reread often. It is something that many people do not understand. Not having a family is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I have been engaged 3 times and never married, that is hard too. I have never had children, because i thought I should be married first, that is hard as well. Not having family or a pack is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I also have slowly learned to back away from people who do not celebrate my presence. I am looking for a Godly husband and I have drawn much closer to the Lord, which I did not think was possible! I know all things work together to those who love the Lord. Easy to say and hard to live. Thanks for these words of encouragement.
    Blessings to you all,

  • Catherine Hill Webb

    Buddy. Magnificent Golden Retriever. With us for 12 years of our 16 years of marriage. Constant companion whether at home or traveling. Ever cheerful, anticipating good, watchful, friend to all ( almost.) Everything you said about Asha was true of Buddy. Actually his name was Sweetwaters Boudreau, but all that came out of our mouths was Buddy. Folks came to see Buddy, not us.
    A go between, we had a way of talking to each other through Buddy. Tell Mom….tell Dad…..
    He was an equal opportunity kind of guy, he would get pets from me then run to give Richard the same chance.
    We took him swimming in Mills River just days before. We thought it would strengthen his weakening legs. Took him for our regular pasture walk the last night. Went to bed as usual….
    He woke up in the night and couldn’t get up. I slept with him on the floor. In the morning Richard carried his 95 pd frame to the car. This illness must have been lurking, but it took him quick so we said our goodbyes on the vets floor. Can’t imagine another , however, your comments ( and Nelle Smiths) keep me thinking.

  • Shelley,

    I can completely relate to what you were talking about. Most of my pack is passed away also. I’m alone. No pets no husband no partner and very few friends. No church either. God is good to me and helps me but it is tremendously hard to not feel the strength of community. I look I search I visit but I don’t seem to connect. The church is not warm and caring and outgoing like it used to be. People don’t call you reach out to you to see how you’re doing. I do reach out to people but I find myself being the one to reach out and being tired. My heart goes out to you and I would love to connect with you if Seth would allow us to. If you are interested I would be glad to give you my email.

    • I was thinking that as I read your comment, Sandy. Shelley has a beautiful testimony, as do you. My mom led her to Christ as a teenager. If she’s interested, I’ll put the two of you in touch and you can encourage one another.

  • Yes, your Asa is all of this and more. She’s a beautiful ball of love and loyalty. Our girl, Tazzie, was the same. She was my companion and comfort for six years of the trigeminal neuralgia. And then she rejoiced in the healing with us as she came along on every domestic adventure God called us to until she went home. I envision her patiently waiting for us there so that we can experience it all together again! We are so blessed by our Father to get to know love like this!!

  • Thanks, Sharon for sharing about Kenna. Asha is a Morkie – Yorkie and Maltese mix. She still loves our walks and once a day around dinner time, will want to play. We inherited her when Talia, our oldest, who went on the first World Race, got married and had to give her up for her husband.

  • Hi Seth
    I know exactly how you feel. Our Labrador Billy is 13 now which is real old for that breed.
    Someone gave him to us when we moved to Mexico in 2010 and the kids loved him because he’d fetch and do all kinds of tricks. They don’t usually train their pets in Mexico. Now he’s real old and it’s getting hard for him to get up and move around. I hate to see him get old and not be able to climb the stairs to my office. I have a sign at my house; it says, ” I hope I’m as good a person as my dog thinks I am”. I try to live up to that but it’s not always pretty. Please don’t tell Billy; he still thinks I’m great.
    God bless you Seth

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | RSS Feed | Sitemap