Posted by: Kara Luker | November 2, 2020

Love, training & time

The dog breed we were getting was going to be pretty perfect. I’d done my research, talked to people who owned them and even taken Chase to meet a friend’s. They were great family dogs who were easy to train, didn’t shed or bark much, and their energy levels were said to be manageable.

The timing of getting our dog was going to be pretty perfect too. The litter was due in April and would be ready to go home by early June. School would be out, construction on my parents’ cottage on our property would be nearly finished and, most importantly, the work on our yard and pool would be done.

Do you ever find that life doesn’t go exactly as planned?  

Sunny did come in early June. She didn’t shed, which was great, and the barking was minimal (at the start, anyway). Turns out she was pretty trainable too, in the sense that she learned commands quickly, but reinforcing them required me to be on task nonstop… as in every single waking moment of every single day. As to manageable energy levels? As if!!!  Sunny had unrelenting energy, the likes of which I’d never seen.

Though a pandemic hit, dramatically changing Chase’s school schedule, he did get out for summer right before her arrival. But permit delays on my parents’ cottage meant the trench running their gas through our yard could not be filled. Because of the order of things, this meant our torn-up yard and pool could not be completed and our fence couldn’t get put back up. So our 8-week old puppy came home to an unenclosed danger zone and, since we couldn’t take her on walks until she was fully vaccinated, nowhere to expend that boundless energy. Things like ‘What have I gotten myself into?” and “Help me Lord Jesus!” escaped my lips on a regular basis.

It’s not like we were feeling fresh as daisies to start with. It had been an exhausting year and we were spent. Since I had been the one driving the puppy purchase, I carried the weight of added stress her craziness brought to John’s overwhelming world of work and construction. And since I wanted a positive experience for Chase, I felt angst over her excessive biting and jumping and a need to get her in line ASAP. Plus, we had a few rounds of guests coming causing me to feel especially responsible for her energy and behavior, not wanting it to negatively affect their stay.

To make matters worse, the handful of friends who had gotten puppies had ended up with freakishly mellow ones that hardly even needed training. “How is that fair?,” I wondered with a good dose of self-pity. And all the training I worked on so constantly with Sunny simply evaporated in her exuberance around people, causing them to ask so frequently, “When are you going to have her trained?” I was expecting hard, but this was hard.

At the end of one particularly defeating day, John caught me googling, “Are Sheepadoodles crazy?” The internet didn’t seem to think so. Clearly they hadn’t met mine. But no matter what exasperating things happened during the day, a shift would happen at night. Hope would rise that there was some way to tackle this; that order could establish itself in the chaos. So after putting Sunny to bed, I would search for videos on whichever behaviors were at issue and delve back into the training books I’d read. By the time I closed my eyes, I had a strategy for the new day. Weeks came and went like this, every day pouring myself into the work of this puppy. What happened as a result wasn’t some magical transformation that was (or is) obvious to onlookers. As much as I would have loved that, it was even better. 

It was the development of relationship – a really sweet one – which couldn’t be escaped with all the time we were spending together. Since this is the reason we got Sunny in the first place, it’s a much bigger win than simply having a calm or well-behaved dog. Another thing has happened along the way. I’ve realized that she is learning. Maybe not at breakneck speed or in a way that impresses others, but enough for me to know that we are on the right track. It also hits me every once in a while that she is still a really young puppy and there are certain things that will come with age and maturity; no sooner. So now I’m not in such a hurry for either of us to get it right because I’m learning to trust in the process of love, training and time. 

The even bigger takeaway has been a revelation that has affected me pretty profoundly: The God I serve is a God of relationship, not of good behavior. He isn’t phased by any of my areas of sinfulness or acting out because He sees them as opportunities to engage with me; to spend time hearing my heart and imparting His; to establish connection and trust. He’s in no rush for me to get it right and isn’t worried if other people – myself included – see the progress, because He knows that the very intentional work He is doing in my life is on track. His unsnuffable hope brings new mercies every single morning, along with masterful wisdom to establish me in the best ways, bringing order from chaos to bless not only me but the family and community He’s placed me in. And He will never compare me or my progress with anyone else the way I do with Sunny (Sorry Sunny!). I can’t tell you how much I needed this encouragement right now. It brings me such a sense of rest as I let His hope rise day by day and trust in His process of love, training and time. Praying it does the same for you.


  1. So true Kara. God is working something beautiful in both you. Good word

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks Janelle! ❤️

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