Gentle Mouth

Time and again our black Lab Adi has brought me the same pair of shoes.  One day as I accepted my Croc flip flop from her again, I took a moment to give it a good look over. Yes, it had the wear and tear of frequent use, but it lacked a single tooth mark.  I couldn’t help but marvel at our Lab’s gentle mouth. 

A mouth so gentle our children entrusted her with their personal treasures.  Several years back, they went through a phase where they used Adi as a courier, asking her to carry a book, stuffed animal, or toy from one sister’s room to the other. Ever dependable, Adi delivered each item in the condition in which it was sent.

These days, they employ her as a mail carrier, asking her to carry letters or magazines from the mailbox to the house.  Aside from a little Labby slobber, you would never know it has been carried by a mouth filled with canine teeth.  Despite Adi’s gentleness, I know her teeth and jaw have power.  She has gnawed deer antlers down to nubs and destroyed rope toys.  Funny thing. I can’t recall a time (post puppy phase) when she’s misused her mouth.

I find my Lab’s gentle mouth rather inspirational.  When I’m overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, or in a rush, I find my mouth, which should be tender, turning sharp.  My words come out too firm and have a biting edge.  In those moments, Adi serves as a reminder that God, who created a dog with a soft mouth, can also soften my mouth.  All it takes is a momentary pause and this heartfelt prayer taken from the Psalms:

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord.  Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Psalm 141:3

© 2019-2022, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

49 thoughts on “Gentle Mouth

  1. Oh my goodness – this made my heart warm. I’ve been around labs and they do have gentle mouths when they bring things to you, etc. I had a friend in Oregon whose lab would gently take off one of my shoes (who knows to where) when I visited and then return it unharmed when it was time for me to go. I was panicked the first time the lab took my shoe but her person told me no harm will come to the shoe, she is just keeping it safe for me while I visit! 🙂

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    1. Tierney, I can quickly see why you would be a Labrador’s favorite guest!! Adi does the same with our guests. Only she takes their shoes and then gives them to me. For those new to our home there is that awkward moment until I can explain that she’s doing that to tell me how excited she is that someone has come to visit her.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! Adi is put out when she doesn’t have something to carry in her mouth. Unfortunately, we have a younger Lab mix who swipes the things Adi is carrying and will hunker down and chew them up. So, we’re having to limit Adi in what she’s allowed to carry.

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  2. Katherine Pasour

    Such a beautiful story. What a blessing to have a dog who is so careful with letters and other delivery items. A very special dog! You’ve made a wonderful analogy for us, too. Happy Fall!

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    1. Thank you Katherine for leaving this lovely comment. Adi is quite a dog. We have a second dog Summer who’s a year old Labrador/ Weimaraner mix. Her mouth isn’t as gentle. The Lab in her allows her to carry things gently but if we don’t watch her closely she’ll hunker down and destroy the item she’s picked up in her mouth. Having Summer has made me appreciate Adi’s gentle mouth all the more.

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  3. A great illustration Beth. I have visiting grandsons (fall school break) who are at the gnawing on each other stage. It would be easy to gnaw back. I think I have them trained to know my boat is a gnaw fee zone or fishing is done for the day. I shall use your Adi as a life and living illustration. So far I have used several lessons from trees, birds and deer on lessons God teaches use in how to live (natures illustrations God gives us to learn spiritual truths). They just lost their dog so it will fit and probably be easily remembered.

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    1. “My boat is a gnaw free zone or fishing is done for the day.” Love this Gary! Should be a sign posted in every fishing boat. Wondering if Jesus might have had these same thoughts when the disciples got to gnawing on each. How blessed your grandsons are to have a grandfather who pours such scripture rich lessons into them. May your lessons take root in their hearts and minds and may they draw on them as they grow. (I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of their dog. I hope the boys are enjoying their time with Buddy).

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  4. Yours and Adi’s lesson here reminds me of this hymn, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
    Calling for you and me.”
    Thank you, Beth. Lessons from you have always presented “softly and tenderly” a call to our Savior. I can learn from both you and Adi. Thank you and Adi for so firm a reminder raised so gently!

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  5. First of all..wow! I had no idea that labs could do all those things, gently or otherwise. What a great lesson for us. We can be useful to God in so many ways, if we just keep a watch over the tone of our words (Great lesson for loud guys like myself!) Have a blessed weekend, Beth.

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    1. Thank you Pastor Pete! It’s so good to hear from you. I hope things are continuing to improve in your area of Florida! In getting Adi, I read up on the origins of the breed and was fascinated to learn that In the 1800’s, Newfoundland fishermen used them to help bring in nets and lines. Later while vacationing on the Jersey shore, I learned that Labs were used to assist in water rescues during the Victorian era. Amazing how their gentle mouth combined with strong swimming skills expanded their usability.

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  6. Those pictures of Adi are absolutely precious! That first close-up almost had me using my mouth to kiss my computer screen. 🙂 What a sweet yet powerful way to demonstrate the importance of a gentle mouth. Sometimes I’m not too gentle with Aaron, especially when he uses his unfiltered words to get his point across and I am prone to be just as unfiltered, though I know better. How I need to remember that just as your children trust Adi with their valuables in her mouth, so God has entrusted Aaron into my care. God wants me to trust Him to keep my mouth gentle in my responses to Aaron. Thank you for this lesson so sweetly and yet powerfully presented, Beth.

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    1. Thank you Patty! If our Adi-girl could have reached through the screen she would have given you a great big lick on the nose in return. I love the greater connection you made between the girls entrusting their treasures to Adi and the the Lord entrusting one of His beautiful treasures to you in Aaron. Have a lovely weekend!

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  7. Oh, such a heartwarming post. I just love the photos!!! Thank you for sharing this verse and this beautiful story. It is the perfect reminder that we think before we speak; we must remember that words spoken in haste or angry can hurt another person deeply.

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    1. Thank you Linda! I’m grateful Adi is not camera shy. It took my girls awhile to get the picture of her with the book in her mouth as she usually drops her “package” as she as she arrives at the recipient. As I was reading in Matthew the other day, a verse caught my attention that really brought me up short. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoke.” (12:36) It was a firm reminder that I need to do a lot more thinking before I begin speaking.

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  8. If only more folk had soft mouths like Adi, and I include myself in that category. My failing comes from a lifetime of loving comedy and wit…sometimes I get my timing wrong with others. May Father God guide us when to speak, and when to remain silent. Thank you for sharing this post Beth; God bless you, your family (two legged and four legged!).

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  9. Great post, Beth, and so relatable.
    I find it’s often difficult to manage my mouth at the end of the day—when I’m emotionally drained. Thankfully, God helps by setting that guard you mentioned. I’m normally a talkative person, but find it’s helpful to turn down the flow of words when I’m not in a good mood.

    God Bless!

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