Faith Lesson from a Dog Trainer

When my beloved dog trainer Abby Bird taught me years ago my very first obedience lesson, little did she know the faith lesson I would ultimately learn from the Lord. I showed up eagerly and innocently at my first training session with my puppy Abby (not named after the trainer, by the way), not realizing I would need a whole lot more training than my dog. But God’s sense of humor shined forth, and so did His patience. And thank God for Abby the trainer’s patience also. Her first teaching was one I will never forget – not for the sake of canines, but most importantly for mine.

Abby taught the class that we should train our dogs to FOCUS as the very top priority, because a dog needs to focus on its handler in order to receive any other instructions. So for the first session, and for my homework, I began the task of moving a treat in my hand from near my dog’s nose to my face – with the intention of getting my dog to focus on my face.

Once Abby the dog learned to focus on my face, I could give her other commands. Suffice it to say Abby the trainer had to call me in for a private, “special” session because I was submitting to my dog rather than the other way around. My voice was so submissive in giving Abby the dog her commands my dog became quickly adept at disregarding my instructions.

My faith lesson? In submitting to the Lord, I need to focus on Him above all else. Before I am able to hear or follow any of His instructions, I need to seek His face. I need to disregard the distractions of life and learn to focus on Him. And, if my attention falls to the never ending distractions in life, I need to follow that little treat all the way back to His face.

Just like my dog needed to learn to focus before I gave her any other instructions, I need to focus on the Lord before I move forward with any further instructions He has for me. How can I know, or do, what He desires when my focus is all over the map?

Dogs have endless opportunities for distraction, as I have learned through the years. And so do I. The world’s distractions are ever growing, and so is my temptation to get distracted. But I have a choice.

I can still hear Abby the trainer in my training sessions all those years ago. Did I say “my” training sessions? Yes. Apparently I needed training more than my dog – and still do.

“Focus!” Abby would say in a sweet, yet assertive voice, teaching us handlers to train our dogs.

“Focus!” God needs to remind me daily. And, when I forget, I undoubtedly have an opportunity to remember – usually when I crash into my next unpleasant consequence of not focusing on the Lord.

“Good job!” Abby the trainer taught us to say to our dogs when they obeyed their commands.

Graduation day with our dogs was an unforgettable day. Graduation caps for the dogs, the graduation march, cameras, photos, gifts, and congratulations. Abby my dog loved the attention.

As for me, I have not yet graduated. I am just now, all these years later, realizing that my need to focus on the Lord involves a whole lot more training and practice than Abby my dog ever needed.

I thank the Lord He is such a patient teacher.

And I thank God for Abby the dog trainer who unknowingly taught me an unforgettable lesson in faith.


If you live in the Hilton Head area, South Carolina, please feel free to e-mail me at for contact information for Abby the dog trainer. Likewise, if you need contact information for the Lord, He is available for training everywhere, anytime, for free. Jesus already paid the price. You are welcome to contact me for more information.

Please visit Walk by Faith Ministry at

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