The Left Turn

There’s a movie coming out called A Dog’s Purpose. Let me just say that when I go see it I will need to take a box (or two) of kleenex. I can tell by the big ol’ crocodile tears that rolled just during the trailer. The premise is that dogs come into our lives for a specific purpose, and when that purpose has been met, they move on to a new life and a new owner.

I think I’ve discovered Buster’s purpose. In addition to sleeping, eating treats, and guarding the house with the fiercest bark  – Buster’s purpose is to reflect myself and my own neurosis back to me.

We were out for a walk yesterday.

**Background** Now, if you don’t know Buster, he’s a creature of habit. If possible, he’s more “type A” than I am. He wants everything in his little canine life to be in line, and arranged like normal. He gets up at the same time every day. He’s ready for bed at the same time every day. He eats precisely half of his bowl of food at a time, leaving a line down the middle as though he measured it. **End Background**

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing one of two routes when we go for a walk. We either go to the end of our street and turn right until it dead ends, or we go halfway up our street, around our first culdesac and then back again. Buster knows these routes. He likes them. He’s comfortable with them.

Yesterday, I wanted to go left.

routes.png

(Maps courtesy of RunKeeper)

You would have thought I was trying to get him to walk through the hot coals of hell. He dug his little paws into the ground. He strained against his collar. He looked longingly back toward the safe sanctuary of “the right turn.”

As I slowly coaxed him to the left and he began to grudgingly sniff the new route, I laughed to myself and thought, “Buster, why don’t you trust me? Have I ever taken you on a walk that wasn’t safe?” I knew that if he would stop worrying about this new, scary path that he would enjoy it. There would be new and interesting mailboxes to sniff, different dogs to glare at along the way, and lots of exciting new territories to mark. But he was too stressed to appreciate all of this!

As you can see from the map, we did make it to the left, although he put his paw down once we got to the end of that road. He trotted a little quicker on the way back to familiar territory, knowing that we were again headed in a comfortable direction. But he made it.

It’s not lost on me that I do the same thing. Anytime something new in my life changes – at home or at work – I worry. I dig in my heels and try to hang on to the old way, the comfortable way, the “right turn.” Given the option, I would always take the safe route, and when I am coaxed to do something different, I get stressed. How often have I missed the new and interesting things along the journey because I was so focused on worrying or going backward?  I’m sure God’s up there saying to himself, “Why don’t you trust me? Have I ever taken you on a walk that wasn’t safe?”

Perhaps together, Buster and I can learn to brave new worlds, but more importantly, to stop and smell the roses (or the mailboxes) along the way.

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