Penny, my year old blue heeler pup, makes me answer a lot of questions.
“Why do all my socks have holes in them?” – From my wife Tricia
“Is she deaf?” – from the people at the park who has seen me give the same command for the last 10 minutes (I always answer yes)
“What is she good for?” – from the cowboys who have seen her struggle to herd cows
I want to answer that question today: “what is she good for?” She isn’t into training. I have zero cowboy training so I figure the blue heeler Penny shouldn’t need much training to do cow work. As Baxter Black put it: “It’s sort of a ‘hike it to me and go out for a pass’ type of working relationship!” (Black, “Sheepmen, Border Collies and Mules”) She isn’t into work. I have been putting up fence, digging holes, and putting in posts. She has dug holes over my entire property, not one of them was where I needed it. She constantly steals my work gloves, runs off with my tools, and has started playing this annoying little game of stepping into wet concrete just to see if I will lose my temper. She’s winning!
John R. Erickson, creator of Hank the Cowdog, had this to say about dogs: “Only the Maker of galaxies would have thought to give mankind such a marvelous gift as a dog.” (Story Craft 89) So what is Penny good for? She has the ability, with one look, to make me honest with myself. This idea came to me as I spent 2 hours digging through rock to put in a post. She sat next to me the whole time with a look that communicated the complete pointlessness of my endeavor. It was at that moment that I wondered about how I spent my time. She goes with me to youth group sometimes. She hangs out with me as I prepare lessons, find games, buy snacks, go to games and cross country meets, and a ton of other job requirements. Every night I find myself looking both women in my life in the eye (Tricia and Penny) having to give an account for the day. The shorter one is harder to justify things too. She is a constant reminder that I have things to accomplish and a higher call than survival. She doesn’t know theology or kingdom work, but her look questions me constantly? Have you ever wondered how your dog would view your daily life? I know this: God is constantly asking me for my best, to focus on the eternal, and to be diligent in the things before me. God is asking every night, the same question that Penny asks, what did you do with today? I pray that I have more to say to God then I usually do to my dog.