Deliberate decisions to practice grace and mercy

by | May 15, 2023 | Dogs & Other Creatures, Faith | 8 comments |

In March, I made a deliberate decision to enroll Cato and me in dog training at Camp Merricks where he and Mac had been fostered. After we adopted Mac in late February, Cato showed him the lay of the land but also exhibited some “I’m the ferocious alpha dog” behavior toward others. We needed to go back to basics.

Every Saturday morning in April into May, Cato and I practiced the deliberate skills.

Week One: “Look at me.” “Sit.” “Wait.” “Stand.” “Off,” when he jumped. 

Week Two: “Up.” “Back up.” “Leave it.” “Enough.” “Settle.” 

Week Three: Commands with leash walking without and with distractions.

Week Four, which we missed because I had a commitment at church, but we practiced as best we could at home: “Go to your bed.” “Sit. Down. Stay.” “Come.”

Week Five: Practice for the Canine Good Citizen Test. 

Week Six: The Test

Last Saturday, Cato did well when greeting friendly strangers, sitting for petting and grooming, walking through a crowd, reacting to another dog and distractions. But without his training collar, Cato pulled on leash, and he did not stay and wait to be called, though he loves to come. 

We also failed supervised separation. When I left Cato with the handler and walked away out of sight, Cato barked until I came back. I expressed surprise because he loves the handler and has never exhibited this behavior—but Mac does. I can’t even go to the bathroom without him following me. So. Next training class.

After reviewing test results with the evaluator, I praised Cato, gave him a treat, accepted our certificate of completion, and posed for the picture posted above. Grace and mercy. On the drive home, I made a deliberate decision to train daily. I’m a creature of habit and a firm believer in disciplined practice.

Practicing faith is a daily deliberate decision, too. Look to God, Sit, Wait, Stand and Up for prayer. Off, Back up, Leave it, Enough, and Settle when distracted. Go to your quiet place, Sit Down Stay, Come to Him.

And He will give you deliberate Grace, Mercy, Peace, and Rest.

Linkup with Five Minute Friday:


  1. aschmeisser

    Belle the Wolf is quite unique,
    a beast that never will be tamed,
    but she’s the friend that I did seek,
    and I will never be ashamed
    of her strong protectiveness
    (at times Barb can’t get close to me),
    or her need to make a mess
    of our tended shrubbery.
    Perhaps she lacks some social graces,
    but I must say, so do I.
    She stays with me in the hard places,
    and I know that if I die
    I can lay my soul on down to rest
    ’cause I was loved true by the very best.

    • Carole Duff

      A delightful and lovely tribute, thank you!

  2. K.L. Hale

    Way to go, Cato! What a beautiful parallel with obedience to the commands of OUR Master! I always enjoy your writing, Carole. 💕

    • Carole Duff

      Bless you, Karla. All is training.

  3. Luanne

    Cato is a champ! I posted an amazing photo on Instagram yesterday. Are you on that social media? If you are, I’m @catpoems. I found it in a 1949 issue of Life magazine. It’s a dog, probably a Springer Spaniel, climbing a wire fence. Tell Cato that’s the next challenge ;).

    • Carole Duff

      Glad to find you on IG, Luanne! Yikes, how does a dog even do that? I think Cato will stick to running – he’s really fast!

      • Luanne

        I know! You would think it was AI if it wasn’t 1949! I bet that dog did it out of desperation once, and then realized he could do it whenever he wanted to.


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