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  • Reverend James Squire

How To Lose Weight, Forget About Your Problems and Be Peaceful

The above title captures the desire of a good many people. If you saw this title on the shelf of a bookstore, you would be drawn to it in such a way that you would have to pick it up and at least be familiar with where the author was going with his or her thoughts. The same is true if you saw this title on a news website with its accompanying adds. There are industries that have made small fortunes in pursuit of weight lost and finding peace.

I have a fool proof way of accomplishing these goals to lose weight, forget about your problems, and find some deep abiding peace created by love, one of the two pillars that hold up all of ethical thought. Get a lab, the most popular dog in the nation for good reasons. I have a seven years old yellow lab. Sadie is the second lab that has joined our family. Even at the age of seven years she acts like she was seven months old in terms of her energy and her spirit. She has slowed down somewhat, but she is still more lively than most dogs on the planet. When we purchased our first lab, Lindy, the breeder said something to me that I didn’t fully comprehend at the time. She said, “You are going to have a great dog in a year!” What did that mean? We found out! Unbounded energy that slowed down somewhat in about a year.

My oldest son has a business with a national footprint or should I say paw print. We gave him and his husband one Christmas a chocolate lab named Keiko. When we attended various social gatherings to support his non-profit, people would come up to me and ask, “Have you met the dog?” The implication was that she was a big-time greeter full of energy. As an owner of a lab, you are always on the move. The pounds just come off. The other reason that the pounds come off is that labs love two things, food and people. I have lost more sandwiches when I place a newly made sandwich on the table, go to answer the phone, and it is gone if I forget to move it to the center of the table. Sadie can be at the other side of our home, but if she hears and smells that pretzel bag open, she dashes to my feet and sits, looking up with those wonderful brown eyes. Trust me, the pounds come off.

The labs’ strongest point, however, is care for people before care for self. When someone comes to the home for a visit, we undergo about thirty seconds of transition as she wags uncontrollably with a toy in her mouth to greet. Then she settles down. Even people who don’t like dogs or are afraid of them, come around to wind up petting her. The one problem is that labs are powerful and can accidentally knock down an unattended child usually with their tail. We have an electric face to keep her safe as our home is on a large property and she zooms around at top speed. I never thought that the fence would work, but it does. We are blessed to have three little girls as our neighbors. They know exactly where the electric fence is located. They stay on one side until she calms down. Then they cross over to have their faces licked.

You knew this blog was not going to be just about labs. It is about what we can learn from them. Labs are often chosen as therapy dogs. I use to kid that Sadie was a therapy dog for you needed therapy after she displays all of her enthusiasm. They don’t necessarily help us to find peace and free us from thinking about our problems the way that mindfulness meditation does or prayer. However, they create an incredible bond with people as Sadie has more social emotional intelligence than most human beings. We know that labs can sniff out drugs, identify cancer in people as well as the Covid-19 virus. They also detect emotions. You can’t raise your voice in my home without getting a visit from Sadie who may be at the farthest point in the home. She quickly gets in the middle of two people. Any argument doesn’t have a chance of lasting very long. When you leave a room for a short period of time and return, she greets you as though you have been away for days.

Here is my central point. Labs embody love. They show us what love looks like. Recently I have been reflecting that one of the greatest limitations of being a human being is that we all want, as part of our human nature, to give a little and get a lot. It is in every part of our lives. If we summarized the reason that relationships don’t work or that Washington politics doesn’t work, it can be found in that statement, give a little to get a lot. Labs are daily reminders of this core truth about human behavior because we give them a little and get back so much more love. They remind us of this truth every moment of our lives. I recently read an article that went to the heart of the matter. I would even say that it is a central religious truth. It was written on June 29, 2018 by Tyler Leigh Vivier and is as follows (shortened):

“A veterinarian had a touching moment when he went to the Belker family home to put their dog down. The family huddled around their beloved pet as he slipped away and crossed over the rainbow bridge. This is the story he shared about the Belker family and their thoughtful son.

The little boy, Shane, beautifully explained why dogs have shorter lives. This is the six years old child’s answer. The vet told the family he couldn’t do anything for their dog and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in the home. The dog slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept his dog’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that dogs’ lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

What came out of the boy’s mouth stunned the vet and changed his life. Shane said, ‘People are born so that they learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’. Shane continued, ‘Well dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.’"

Jill Biden had the word, “love”, written on the back of her jacket yesterday when she arrived for her first trip with her husband to renew our role as a global leader. Addressing our challenge to give a little and get a lot is unfortunately at the heart of too many lives. Recall that Melania Trump wore a jacket on a trip with words on the back. “I really don’t care. Do U?” Those messages on the backs of jackets by the first ladies summarizes the attitude of the Trump and the Biden Administrations in the most, simple direct way.

Is it a coincidence that dog spelled backwards spells God? Could that be a way to remember our challenge with our human nature that we want to give a little and get a lot when giving a lot and receiving less in self service is the true definition of the good moral life defined by one of its pillars, love. Jesus spoke this moral truth at the heart of the Gospel. ”It is better to give than to receive.”

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