ODJ: dog whisperer

October 4, 2014 

READ: Genesis 1:24-28 

Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and all the animals that scurry along the ground (v.28).

My young nieces recently introduced me to a favourite TV show of theirs: The Dog Whisperer. In the series, an animal behaviourist named Cesar Millan gives advice to pet owners who have unruly dogs. We soon became hooked on the show.

It didn’t take too many episodes to recognise, however, that whatever the problem—a dog endlessly chasing its tail, barking all day or getting aggressive towards visitors—Cesar’s advice was largely the same: each owner had to exercise calm but assertive leadership over their pet. When owners treated their dogs as equals (which many did) or as surrogate children (which many more did), the dogs filled the leadership void and started ruling the home. But when given brisk walks, discipline and subsequent affection, peace was restored. And the dogs themselves became less anxious and appeared to be happier.

I realised something while watching The Dog Whisperer. Consciously or not, Cesar Millan was teaching the biblical creation mandate. “Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and all the animals that scurry along the ground,” is part of humanity’s God-given job description (Genesis 1:28). We’re to calmly, assertively lead—not follow—creatures through discipline and appropriate affection. All animals—even livestock and those in the wild—are created by God, declared to be “good”, and are therefore immensely valuable (vv.24-25). But they’re not our equals, and even the cutest of them can’t become a surrogate child. Only when humans and animals take their assigned place in the created order do both flourish.

Cesar Millan doesn’t really train dogs. He trains humans to take their assigned role in God’s world seriously.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day plan› Luke 24:44-53

Read Job 12:10 and consider God’s rule over all created things. Read Psalm 8:6-8 to see what it says about our responsibility as stewards of His creation. 
Have you ever undervalued or overvalued your pets? What happens when humans fail to lead and care for animals appropriately?