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MY DOG’S NAME IS FRANK. He is a little white-haired terrier. He may be small, but he lives large in the Gungor family. He thinks he’s one of us and believes his is the role of protector. If you came to my door right now and we were trying to talk, Frank would be a force with which we’d have to reckon. He’d be freaking out that a “stranger” is at the door. And his bark is unnerving. He doesn’t have the high-pitched arf-arf-arf of tiny dogs—it’s more of a midtoned rarf, rarf, rarf! And he would just keep on barking until I yelled, “QUIET! Go to your kennel!” at least a couple of times. Then he’d reluctantly shut it down and stroll toward his kennel, stopping every few feet to look back, grumbling under his breath.
It’s not that Frank is overpowering. Nor does he elicit fear. He certainly doesn’t project any kind of authority. He’s just a little dog. But you can’t ignore him either—he’s too there. And he makes his thereness known.
Small dogs are like that. They may not run the world, but you can’t tune them out—especially when they’re speaking. I’ve learned some great life lessons from Frank. In a way, I think God wants people to be more like the small dogs. It’s true that God made “big dogs” too—the good-looking, excessively talented power people. But I don’t think they do the most to change the world.
Maybe you feel like one of the small dogs, but if your life consistently carries the tone of the eternal, you can’t be ignored. I believe that, for the most part, the world gets changed by “small” people. I am small. We smalls may not run the world, but neither can the world tune us out. If it weren’t for small dogs, the world might be a much quieter place; but it would be a needier one as well.
Having spoken up for small dogs and having acknowledged my attachment to Frank, let me add that I’m not a dog lover in the general sense. For instance, there’s Fluffy, the tiny dog that lives next door. She’s not a small dog. She’s microscopic—a four-legged, rodentlike creature with an incessant, high-pitched yap. If she tried to live at my house, Fluffy and I would have to discuss adoption options. Neither do I get along with my wife’s sister’s dog, Bear. He’s too big and lumbering. I’ll give him credit for settling down a little since the neutering, but our relationship wouldn’t have survived his puppy phase. He was a mammoth, uncoordinated black lab who either knocked over or chewed everything. I just can’t do high-maintenance dogs.
But Frank has been good for me. Coaching me in the way of the small dog, he has made me a better person—even a better person of faith. I’m a follower of Jesus, and in my attempts to follow him more closely, I’ve discovered that God speaks to me through all sorts of things—circumstances, relationships, events, weird relatives, and even my dog—to show me what he wants me to learn.
Frank is my current tutor in the art of living the small-dog life. It’s true that he has his issues (as do all of us). But all in all, he is a dog that knows who he is and what he wants in life. He’s a small dog with a mission.
I’ve been seeking the way of the small dog for some time now. If you join me, I guarantee we won’t be ignored in this world.
© 2010 Ed Gungor