Dog Lovers

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Have you ever gone to a “doggie beach”?!  You know, where dogs are allowed to roam free and romp and play in the sand and water?

It’s a real hoot!!

There are big dogs, little dogs, passive dogs, aggressive dogs, friendly dogs, playful dogs, mischievous dogs, young dogs, and old dogs.  All kinds of dogs…all shapes and sizes.  It’s a haven for dogs and “dog lovers.”  You have to be a dog lover to go there, because as soon as you get on the beach the other dogs sniff you out, and the new canine you brought to the scene.  They attack you, your stuff, your dog, and your gear.  Don’t bring any food…they can smell it a mile away!

The most fun part is that all the “Dog Lovers” are so welcoming…they’re just as friendly as their dogs.  They come over, introduce themselves, welcome you to the beach, and ask all about you and your dog.  There’s lots of:   “OOH, AHH,” and “How Cute!!”  They give you pointers and helpful tips to make your trip “a day at the beach”.  They’re like one big happy family…  “The Family of Dog-Lovers.”  There’s instant rapport.  You feel like you’ve known these folks forever.

My husband and I traveled to the doggie beach in Venice, Florida soon after we got our black and white Siberian Husky puppy, Onyx.  She was about 3 months old and probably weighed about 10 pounds at the time (one of the tiniest dogs on the beach) and most likely the only puppy!  We had to keep her on her leash because Siberians will bolt, the beach was long, we’re old, and we didn’t want to have to run her down when she decided it was more fun to run away with a Great Dane!  She has no fear of other dogs no matter what their size and stood up to all of them, even the Rottweiler.  Also, the beach was lined with overgrowth, and the walkways that connected the fenced in areas from the beach were not enclosed.  Signs everywhere read, “Beware of Alligators.”

The trip from the parking lot to the beach was the longest trek I’ve ever had to make to get to water.  Honestly, what are they thinking?  Let’s see, we had a beach umbrella, a beach bag, a beach blanket, a bogey board, a noodle, a cooler, a bag with puppy toys, and a puppy on a leash flailing, jumping, pulling, twisting, jerking, and trying desperately to get away from us.  All this while we’re trying to get through a series of gated enclosures.

From the car there’s a great big gate to open with all this stuff in our hands, and the dog.   Then, another great big gate to shut real quickly, so the dogs won’t get out.   We’re now in a huge playground area with twenty, or so, dogs playing and running free, and begging our puppy to join in.

After we get to another great big gate at the other end of the huge playground, I’m about ready to faint.  My right arm is now several inches longer than my left, which is numb from the weight of all my gear.  I still need to get through another great big gate real quick to keep the dogs from getting out this end, so I can be home free!  Now, I’m at the walkways with the “Beware of Alligators” signs, and my husband has forgotten something and is returning to the car.  Oh my, I’m all alone and ready to faint.   I gathered all my strength and trudged on, trying not to drop anything, or God forbid, let go of the dog’s leash.

Finally, I was at the beach.  When my husband arrived, he was hyperventilating, too!

Ahhh…we though, we’re finally, at the beach.  Welcoming, relaxing, inviting, calming.

Are you kidding?!  Once the other dogs saw us, sand was flying, and we were covered in it until we got home and finally showered it off!!  I’ve never had that much sand on every inch of my body before.

Onyx loved the Gulf water and the waves.  We held her on the bogey board, and let her “surf” the waves.  When she was all tired out, she started whimpering to get out, and then she had to contend with the dogs on the beach again, constantly chasing her.  Onyx and I got hungry, so I had to “sneak” food under the umbrella, so the bloodhounds wouldn’t know.  Not easy.  All this fun was exhausting for all of us!!

I was marveling at how wonderful it was that the other “Dog Lovers” could let their dogs run free to play with such abandon, until the giant Rottweiler suddenly saw a jet skier race by through the waves.  He suddenly split.  He charged down the beach so fast trying to out run the machine that his owner, who really was not having a relaxing day anyway, had to sprint off after him.  Some twenty minutes later, she came back, panting hard, with a leashed Big Boy tugging to get free.  So much for doggie freedom!

Church, are we a family of “Jesus Lovers?”

Do we realize how much baggage people are carrying when they’re really just looking for some real freedom from it all?

Do we realize what people have to go through in this world to get through every gate on their own..without God to carry them?

Do we make their trek to Jesus longer than it needs to be, ’til they’re about ready to faint?

Do they even want to keep trying to get to the water?

Do we really welcome them…sniff them out!!  Get excited to see them and help them reach the water…the Living Water of Jesus?

Can we teach them how to “surf” the waves of joy Jesus brings?

Or, do they see a lot of “Beware Of The Christians” signs blocking their way, putting obstacles in their paths?

Are we treating them like part of our big happy family…”The Family Of Jesus Lovers?”

Do they see our Jesus as:  Welcoming.  Relaxing.  Inviting.  Calming.

Do we show them how to, “Run.  Play.  Get free from the world.”

Yes, it can be exhausting.  Yes, they’re covered in sand and it will get all over you, too!

But you have the food for the hungry…don’t sneak to eat it…give it away…welcome them to Jesus…where there is so much freedom!

Yes, Freedom!!  Go!!   Charge down the beach…the water’s just ahead!

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