My wife and I love to spoil our dog, Tumnus. He eats well. He sleeps in our bed. He frequents the dog park. And he even enjoys the occasional pup cup.
The problem is, Tumnus is a nervous wreck. Jane and I rescued him when he was only 5 months old, but he had already experienced so much hurt that most things continue to scare him even now, well over a year later.
Tumnus will often shake during car rides. He is terrified of mailboxes and trash cans. His name was inspired by C.S. Lewis’
character in “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the faun — Mr. Tumnus — who is initially very skittish, but in the end is very sweet and loyal.
Jane and I even joked the other night that we would start a puppy Instagram for Tumnus, and his bio would read: “Puppy Influencer. My journey in overcoming daily fears.”
Because he is so anxious, it is very hard to take Tumnus on walks. But, he has so much energy, he needs to exercise daily. The dog park has become sort of a crutch for us, so I’ve tried to be more proactive in taking Tumnus for walks at Hobgood Park.
To try and calm Tumnus’ nerves, I come up with creative ways to motivate him. Of course, it’s amazing how fast he will be obedient for a treat. Speaking gently to him, telling him what a good boy he is and how brave he is, also helps to comfort him.
However, I have also found something else to be very effective. Tumnus has a harness that goes around his chest. On the back, just under the clip for his leash, is a handle. If I gently put my hand under that handle, and not pull or yank him, but gently pull up with my hand on his harness … something about that helps him to feel secure, knowing I am by his side.
When Tumnus feels the hand of his master upon him, he knows his master is near. I am just like Tumnus, and maybe you are, too. Even after we have been rescued by our savior, we all have areas of our lives in which we are so wounded that we continue to doubt his loving care for us.
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.” — 1 Peter 5:6-7
Notice that Peter addresses these words to Christians. Even as believers, we can continue to be filled with anxieties, but Jesus reminds us of his care by giving us “treats” like answers to prayers or Holy Communion. He speaks gentle words of grace to us through the word. Most of all, there are special moments — moments when we are maybe even most afraid — when Jesus gently puts his hand upon us to remind us that our master is near.
There is no need that is too great or too small for him. You can cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
– Tyler Kerleyis the rector of Resurrection Anglican Church in downtown Woodstock.