One of my dogs is getting older. Well, both are, actually (indeed, aren’t we all?), but one is getting measurably older. Her back legs are lagging when she walks or runs, her eyesight and hearing are failing; she’s just feeling the effects of time.
And lately, she’s been walking up to wherever I am, and just standing there, swaying gently on weak legs. Because she can’t see or hear well, she just wants to be near to me. Sometimes she wants affection or maybe some dropped food, but mostly she just wants to be close because I represent security to her. I am her Alpha dog, and although she has a mind of her own – and enough fur to comfortably clothe the state during the winter! – she still looks to me to take care of her most basic needs: food, shelter, health and safety. Due to her decreased sight and hearing, she chooses nearness to what is known – me – instead of the unknown.
And who wouldn’t? I think most of us often choose safety over the unknown. And while I am a big believer in facing fears to promote growth, there’s also something to be said for wanting and needing protection from the big bad world, and also from ourselves.
Because of her lack of sight and sound, she has a tendency to wander places she shouldn’t be. Places she can get hurt, or possibly killed. In front of a car as it’s driving into the driveway, for instance. So even though it’s annoying to have her constantly at my feet, I understand her need to feel security at my side.
I’m kind of the same way. Kind of, because more than just a lot of the time I like to do things my way, instead of standing under the wings of my Protector. But still, when things are hard, and I’ve lost perspective, I find comfort knowing that someone – my Alpha – will take care of my most basic needs as well.
I was talking to my veterinarian the other day, trying to figure out when I’ll know it’s the right time to let her go. His rule of thumb is “when she becomes more of a project than a pet, it’s about that time.” And with each passing day, when her legs struggle to hold up her body. I’m becoming anxious that the time is imminent. Now as the leader of her pack, it’s my role to protect her. I want her to seek the security I offer, little as it is. I don’t want her faltering health to cause harm beyond is natural.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
And I know that God feels the same way about me. Although He allows things to happen that we may think are detrimental to our being, but He still watches over us, protecting us in spite of what we choose to do. Even though we may not be standing close to Him, He is always near to us.