The Squirrel Test

For many dog owners the arrival of a squirrel plays out like a scene in a Dick and Jane book. 

See squirrel. 
See squirrel run.
Look, look Father.
See dog run.

At least that is what it was like growing up with Brittany Spaniels. 

For Adi’s first months with us, the squirrels kept to themselves, staying in our treeline.  But as winter began to creep closer, they grew bolder and more active as they began to collect and bury their feast of acorns. 

At nine months of age, Adi had her first closeup encounter.  She was exploring near our driveway when we both heard the crashing of an animal through leaves.  Before I could react, that squirrel was running within inches of Adi’s nose, toward the road, and up a tree.  Adi was too far away to grab so I had to rely solely on words and training. She had already taken several steps in pursuit when I voiced the commands, “No! Stay!” She froze. 

Within moments that squirrel came rushing back down the tree, back in front of her and under our truck. Ears cocked, head swiveling to watch, Adi held her stay.  Once my heart began beating again, I lavished her with praise.  My pup’s training had won over her instinct. 

The connection between daily practice and success on the court was drilled into me by high school and collegiate sports.  That moment with the squirrel showed me the same is true in training a dog.  The fruit of Adi’s daily training sessions was clearly seen in that squirrel test. 

As I chewed on this experience, I couldn’t help but draw a connection to my spiritual life.  The more I practice abiding in Jesus in the everyday events of life the better I’m able to stand firm in my faith when an unexpected test arrives.  World War I chaplain Oswald Chambers wrote, “We presume that we would be ready for battle if confronted with a great crisis, but it is not the crises that builds something within us- it simply reveals what we are already made of.”

Thank you, Lord, that the tests of this life reveal the fruit of abiding with you each day.

“[Jesus said], ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15: 4-5

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  -Galatians 5: 22-23

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest, edited by James Reimann, Discovery House, 1992.

© 2019 – 2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

7 thoughts on “The Squirrel Test

  1. Anonymous

    My Brittany Spaniel wasn’t so well trained. She would have had that squirrel treed and it would not have come back to test her again. There must be a lesson in that also.
    I love your story and associated scriptures. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That Brittany Spaniel loved every minute of the mornings you took her to flush the squirrels from the tree line. There are days I miss that girl and wish I could turn back time and have one more run through the fields with her. And thank you for introducing me to Oswald Chambers!


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