Our Dog T-Bone

A Heartwarming Story of Life with One Really Nervous Dog

"Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in." -- Mark Twain

"I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."  Abraham Lincoln


THE FACE OF THE MASTEROver the 13+ years with T-Bone he taught us a lot about life:  patience, loyalty, patience, how much new couch cushions cost, patience, unconditional love, patience, how to unbolt a truck seat, patience, how to react to people who say, “Your dog did what?!”, patience, laughter, I forgot…did I mention patience? 


But the one thing that stands out most in my own mind was his overwhelming desire to see the face of the master.   It seemed to be the supreme passion in his life (although I want to emphasize here that there is nothing special about my face; my wife’s – yes, but mine – no.  In fact they used a picture of my face for those Mr. Yeachy stickers that are used to scare kids away from opening or drinking something poisonous).  For some reason T-Bone had to frequently see the face of his master.  When he did, he was fine; when he didn’t, his separation anxiety kicked in.  The last few years of his life, even though he was almost completely blind, every so often at night he would get up and stick his face real close to either Kay’s face or my face just to see if we were still there.  He saw us (or probably rather smelled us) and then plopped back down to sleep.  He always was a dog that wanted to sleep, sit, lie, and walk as close to either Kay or I as possible.


Maybe you've heard the phrase: "God is My Copilot."  Maybe you've also heard the variation on that phrase: “Dog is My Copilot.”  Trying not to be disrespectful, T-Bone in a way taught Kay and I some things about God and His love for people. 


Did you know that mankind suffers from its own form of “separation anxiety?”  In a nutshell, the Bible says that God created Adam and Eve for a special purpose – that He might have a deep love and friendship with humanity and that humanity might in turn experience a special bond of affection for God.  In fact, humanity was created in such a way that if that bond was somehow broken they would experience their own form of “separation anxiety.”   In Genesis chapter three it implies that, on a daily basis,  God would take time out of running the universe to spend some time with Adam & Eve and just sort of go for a stroll through the Garden of Eden with them.  Their lives found completeness and fulfillment and satisfaction -- not in their jobs nor in all the “stuff” they had -- but in their relationship with their “Master.”  He got to see their faces and they got to see His face (you know you can’t really have a deep friendship or relationship with someone if you can’t look them in the eye).    They daily saw His face and so enjoyed rest and peace.


But something tragic occurred – Adam and Eve “sinned” and immediately that special relationship was broken.  When God came to visit on that certain day in Genesis 3, instead of Adam and Eve running to God, for the first time in their history they found themselves running away from God.  God’s heart was broken because that unique bond was shattered.  And for the first time Adam and Eve experienced the catastrophic impact of “separation anxiety.”  Their lives became enveloped in misery, stress, chaos and emptiness – something was wrong, desperately wrong but they were incapable of affecting a cure on their own.


Even though Adam and Eve had sinned and run away from Him, God took the initiative to repair that relationship.  Throughout history men and women have tried on their own to heal that inner ache of the human heart, that inner separation anxiety, that inner “I know something is wrong or missing but I don’t know what it is.”  People have tried money and riches, sex and drugs, jobs and hobbies, houses and stuff – all in a vain attempt to quiet that inner emptiness, that inner heartache, their own form of “separation anxiety.”  And just like with T-Bone, the behavior at times becomes destructive – they abuse drugs, they abuse people, they abuse food, they abuse themselves, they abuse just about anything there is to abuse.  Like T-Bone, they try to escape (their problems), they pace (from worry and fretfulness), and they wear that “anxious smile mask” (on the outside they are smiling, but inside they are crying).   They may be wearing prison stripes in solitary confinement in the most secure prison in our land or they may be wearing pinstripes and running one of the nation’s fortune 500 companies with an office suite the size of most homes, and yet there is an inner “something” that gnaws away at them daily and they can’t find a cure.


But there is a cure, there is an answer.    Some people may say that we showed extraordinary patience with T-Bone and his problems, but it is nothing compared to the patience that the Heavenly Master has shown toward the humanity that He loves….and that He sent His Son Jesus to die for.  There is a well-known verse in the Gospel of John (chapter three and verse sixteen) that states God’s attitude toward those suffering from their own form of separation anxiety:  “For God so loved the world that He Gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  


The ache, the cry, the crushing anxiety of the human heart can only be healed by, so to speak, “seeing the face of the Master” – by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Whether you call it “getting saved,” or “being born again (Billy Graham’s favorite term) or “getting religion,” only Jesus Christ can fill that void and that cross-shaped vacuum in the human heart.  


And perhaps you know all of this or you have heard it a thousand times, but your picture of God is one of a harsh and stern Judge Who is ready, willing and eager to punish you.  But the picture that the Bible gives us is completely different from that.  Remember the story of me walking T-Bone and losing sight of him?  What was my response?  Was it, “Well dog, you didn’t stay beside me, so tough luck, you got yourself into this mess, you can get yourself out; so stay lost – you’re on your own!”  NO!  When I realized he wasn’t there, and that he couldn’t see and couldn’t hear and could easily get even more lost, I ran as fast as I could back up the trail to get to him before he wandered off into total lostness!  I RAN TO HIM!  AS FAST AS I COULD!  And the Bible (in Luke chapter 15 – the “Prodigal Son” chapter) portrays God as a father with a broken heart longing for his rebellious and lost son to come home.  And when the aged father catches sight of his long lost son, he does something rather amazing – he runs to him with every ounce of strength he can muster!  And when they meet he embraces his bedraggled son and smothers him with love.  God is a running God!  And God is running to you!!!


Are you suffering from “separation anxiety?”  The dictionary gives the technical definition of anxiety as, “A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event, often impairing us physically and psychologically.”  Is there an emptiness or anxiousness deep inside of you that you can’t figure out how to heal, how to fill, how to cure, or how to fix?  Give your heart to Jesus Christ today and let Him fill that void and ache in your heart.  Trying to cure separation anxiety in T-Bone proved to be very, very difficult.  But curing separation anxiety in your heart is literally as simple as making this your sincere heart’s prayer, “God, I acknowledge this inner ache, this inner turmoil, this inner emptiness, and I don’t know how to cure this “separation anxiety” in my heart.  But I thank You that You do.  I thank You that You loved me so much that You sent Your Son to die for me on Calvary for all of the things that I have done wrong, for all of my sins.  Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart today, forgive me of my sins and cure me of my own “separation anxiety.”  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.”


You will never ever be disappointed when you look into the Face of the Master.