He’s been gone for two weeks now.
I can finally talk about him without sobbing. I never thought a 10-pound animal could take up so much room in my heart, but our little Yorkie, Elijah Craig Blackmore, permanently etched his paw prints on our family and in our lives.
On August 3rd, we made the difficult decision to put Eli down. After being a part of the Blackmore clan for nearly fifteen years, he’s no longer here to greet us when we come home, cuddle with us when we watch TV, or lick the crumbs from the floor while we prepare meals. Yet, Eli will never be forgotten. Over the past two weeks, recalling his big personality and quirky habits has been good medicine—literally making us laugh out loud. And reminiscing as a family, we’ve come up with a few life lessons we learned from our old dog.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but our old dog Eli taught us some valuable lessons we’d do well to live out.
Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Hold Your Tongue
Eli had an enormously long tongue. So long, in fact, he couldn’t keep it in his mouth. One day, while he was sleeping, my daughter decided to gently pull at it and see if we could determine its actual length. To our shock, it measured several inches! When we understood the true size of his tongue, we were amazed he could manage it as well as he did!
Eli’s ability to hold his tongue sets a great standard for us to do the same.
Not surprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say about holding our tongues. Consider these verses:
- “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech” (Psalm 34:13).
- “LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
- “If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself” (James 1:26).
New Lesson from our Old Dog: Control Your Tongue. (It's better to bite your tongue than eat your words.)
2. Seek Out the Sweet
Dogs typically are known for their incredible sense of smell. Eli, however, lacked this sense. We could place a food item on the floor in front of him and he wouldn’t be able to find it. Go figure. Amazingly, though, he could seek out sweets—especially chocolate—no matter how packaged or hidden it might be!
We discovered his sixth sense when my mom came to visit.
While Mom and I were busy catching up, Eli made his way to her room. Somehow, he opened her suitcase, burrowed under her clothing, and found a bag containing packaged chocolates. Not only did he unseal the bag–he unwrapped the packaging and ate what could have been a lethal amount of candy. Did it bother Eli or upset his stomach? Not one bit! He was too busy savoring the deliciousness he skillfully uncovered.
For having such a pitiful sense of smell, Eli had an uncanny adeptness at seeking out sweets. As Christians, I believe we should hone that same skill. These verses seem to substantiate this truth:
- “How sweet Your word is to my taste–sweeter than honey in my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).
- “I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
- “Your words were found and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).
New Lesson from our Old Dog: Seek Out the Sweet. (Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.)
3. Make Your Requests Known
Eli didn’t need words. His communication skills trumped my own—especially when it came to making his requests known.
When hungry–he banged the trashcan.
When satisfied with his meal–he belched approvingly.
When he wanted a treat–he stood for an hour in front of the pantry.
When he desired entrance into a certain room–he body slammed the door.
If he needed to be held–he tapped your leg.
I’d love to be as consistent and coherent in my communication–especially when it comes to my relationship with God. He desires that I make my requests known to Him. Need proof? How about these verses:
- “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
- “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
- “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9,10).
New Lesson from our Old Dog: Let your requests be known. (If you only pray when you're in trouble. . .you're in trouble.)
So there you go. A few valuable lessons from our old dog Eli. There’s plenty more, though–so if you’d like another installment, let me know!
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about seeking out the sweet truths of God’s Word, check out my Bible study Rooted!