Calm dogs seek your face, not your hand. They may be excited, anxious to get going, to eat, to pee, to play, but they can calm themselves and shift their focus off of the hand with the food bowl, or the treat, or the leash, and onto your face. They can look you right in the eyes and give their full attention to you, not to what you have in your hand or what you are giving, as pleasant as that thing is.
Our bulldogs are not, by and large, a calm bunch. I am greeted most mornings with a pack of foot-stomping, body-wiggling, tail-wagging, tank-rolling dogs who want to experience every life pleasure from food to bolting around like barrel racing horses NOW, NOW, NOW! (Emphasis theirs.)
The rattling drum of bulldog paws. A raucous, rampaging stampede. A bulldog dare. Just try to ignore us. The temptation to give in and let them go wild dangles in front of me on a regular basis.
I had to develop my own discipline early on not to surrender to their excitement. Bulldogs are demanding by nature. Giving in to them is akin to giving a sugar-crazed child who is throwing a fit yet another cone of cotton candy.
I started a regimen. I stood in front of the dog and required her to sit down and look up into my face, making eye contact. No sit, no eye contact, no whatever. The concept of having to obey an order, any order, did not sit well with Snoopey. I said,”Sit.” She stood. I said,”Look up.” She looked away. I waited. And waited. Finally I walked away. A little later I tried again. She eventually sat, but she kept her eyes fixed on my hand and whatever it was going to do that she wanted – open the latch on her crate, set down a bowl of food, hand over a toy. Her eyes never left my hand and the hand did not hand over what she wanted until she minded the instruction and looked up into my eyes. After that it got easy – for a while. Then she tested me.
I asked her to sit and look up and she didn’t. She’s going to give me what I want anyway. I can out bulldog her. It’s nice when a test looks like a test. I had learned to be a little bulldoggy myself. And I won. And that was good for Snoopey, too.
I am often guilty of seeking the Lord’s hand before I seek His face, a spiritual version of putting the cart before the horse. He encourages me to spend much needed time with Him, in prayer, in His Word, and simply in His Presence. I desire it…but Lord, if you would just do this one thing and take care of this other item, oh, and that other little thing that I want. I have to be reminded. If I look Him in the face, His hand is open and stretched out toward me.
“When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8 KJV
©H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved