My son Joe has a little dog named Cody. He is a little 2 years old, jet black, Miniature Schnauzer. He’s the kind of little dog whose hair hangs over his black eyes, so it’s hard to see them. Joe and Cody are together everyday and I can tell you that Joe loves that dog like he was his child. They have not been separated for more than a few hours in over a year. Cody was about nine months old when Joe bought him.
Joe and Cody have grown very close but you could say that Cody is a one-person dog. He is quite skittish around people he doesn’t know—and rightfully so. He was abused when he was a puppy. Joe rescued this little guy.
Naturally, when Joe comes out to visit, he brings Cody with him. We have five grand doggies—Peyton, Dalton, Hunter, Ellie and Cody. Peyton, Dalton, Hunter & Ellie love being around people. They were raised that way. They easily cuddle up with you and are always nudging you with their noses to be petted. But not Cody—he’s never seemed to be affectionate to me at all. Except towards Joe. He is always observing, watching people’s movements. Many times, you barely notice that he’s there, especially when the other dogs are around. If you happen to get up quickly, he will run the other way. He’s very quiet. But you can see his love for Joe. He just melts when he’s with him.
I asked Joe several weeks back if he would let us keep Cody for a couple of days. Kind of like letting Cody come visit his grandparents. I just wanted to get to know him better, but more importantly—for him to get more comfortable when he was around us.
Joe dropped him off on Sunday night, bringing his food and his little cage. He stays in that during the days when Joe’s at work. I think it’s a place that makes him feel both comfortable and secure. We walked out into our back yard, which is fenced in, and Cody started sniffing around. When he was out of sight, Joe got up and quickly hurried back into the house and out the front door to go home. He didn’t want Cody to see him leave. Cody came back up to us, and started frantically searching for Joe. He had his nose to the ground and was sniffing all over the place. We took him in the house after Joe left and he seemed to just panic. “Where’s my Dad???” He was running all over the house and looking out the windows. This was around 6:30 p.m.
That night, Cody just couldn’t get calm. Anytime there was a noise, he would jump up, hoping it was Joe. He wouldn’t eat anything or drink any water. We went to bed around 10:00 p.m.
He usually sleeps with Joe so we put him on the bed with us. That lasted for all of 30 seconds. We had shut the bedroom door to keep him with us. He started pawing the door and whimpering for his dad. Dad wasn’t there. This was going to be a problem.
I took Cody to the cage, which I’d put in the laundry room, hoping that being in a familiar place would quiet him down. I shut the door to his crate, and also the door to the laundry room. But you could hear him several times during the night, crying for Joe.
The next morning, he was very sluggish. I knew he hadn’t slept well. Sandy and I usually read the Bible and pray together early in the mornings. We do this on the living room couch. As we were sitting there, Cody jumped up and sat with us. He wanted to be close. Nice!
Sandy had to go to work, but I was working out of our home that day. As the hours passed, you could literally feel Cody begin to thaw. He lay on the rug beside my chair as I worked at my desk and basically became my shadow. Everywhere I went, he followed. He began to want to “be” with me. I kept talking to him in a very quiet, loving way telling him what a good little boy he was.
Well that night, he jumped up on the bed when Sandy and I were going to sleep. And he stayed there all night—not a peep. He felt comfortable with us because we took the time to establish the relationship. The next morning when we got back from the gym around 6:45, he put his little paws up on my legs and just wanted to be touched—to be petted.
And it made me think—how many people do we meet that we just overlook. We are somewhat aware that they are there, but we don’t go out of our way at all to establish a relationship with them. They don’t seem to be interested in establishing any contact with us, so we basically ignore them. Maybe they’re just shy, and really long for the “touch” of another human being.
How many times might it be that, like Cody, these people too have been abused at some time in their lives and they just have lost the natural outgoingness that children are born with. Maybe there’s more to them than we can see on the outside and we just need to help them feel “safe” with us.
Someone once told me that I am a “screaming extravert.” “No,” I thought. “Not really.” But I’ve learned how to fake it. Because of what I do for a living, I have to be extraverted. But so many people have never learned how to do this. Many people, through no fault of their own, have been abused, belittled or in some other way, become damaged goods.
Psalm 147:6 says, “The Lord lifts up the downtrodden.” Jesus always seemed to be hanging around with prostitutes, tax collectors, and the poor in spirit. He encouraged them. They were drawn to him. He stopped what he was doing to spend time with them. He lifted them up with his words and his actions.
He touched them. Actually, this was his work.
And that’s why I love him…
I’ve seen Cody and my relationship blossom. Never more will he feel uncomfortable around me. He knows that I’m safe. He wants to be with me.
So, reflecting on this, how can I use this? What is God trying to tell me through Cody?
First, I love this little dog. He’s beautiful. I want to be around him. He has his own unique personality and he really is affectionate—in his own way. He loves to be with you, but he’s not going to bark and yip to get your attention. He’s not a screaming extravert—and that’s okay. He’s not that way and never will be. He wouldn’t be Cody if he was. But that’s okay. That’s Cody.
Also, these questions come to mind:
- How can I be more aware of the “Cody’s” of this world who are around me?
- What kind words can I say to someone who desperately needs it?
- How can I become more of a “lifter;” more like my God?
- How can I open my eyes to those around me and get beyond the selfishness and shortsightedness of my everyday life?
- In short, how can I be more like Christ?
I will think about these things and more importantly, take action.
I hope that Cody has had an effect on you as well. How would God have you use this?