Lessons From My Dog About Expanding Boundaries

samson kids christmas dog (2)

Samson, Our Puppy Boy

This is Samson. He was my soul-mate dog. I think a girl is blessed to have even one dog like that in her life and he was mine. I have had other dogs that have meant a lot to me, but something about Samson was just unique. VERY unusual.

Samson was always willing and eager to come to me when I called. In fact, he didn’t like to leave my side. I could let him off lead and, assuming he had strayed any distance away from me at all, if I called, he would come.  He trained with me for the San Francisco marathon so we went on a lot of runs together at Ancil Hoffman Park and along the American River in Sacramento. One of my fastest run times was a “Mutt Strut” that we did. It was a 5k (3.1 mile) race in Davis, California. I had *never* run a 10 minute mile before, but Samson wanted to be at the head of the pack so badly that we went out at a sprint! Oh I miss those days!

Because Samson handled his freedom so well, I was able to allow him privileges that I wasn’t able to offer other dogs before or since.

Probably the most enjoyable of all of these privileges was offering Sammy the chance to go play at a neighbor’s house. “Ben,” a black lab, lived down the street. They LOVED each other. I would make a plan with Ben’s “mom” and, at the prearranged moment, I opened our front door, urging Samson, “Go play with Ben!” He typically hesitated for just a moment, as if to be SURE it was ok.  “Yes, Sam! Go have fun with Ben!” Off he ran out the front door and down the street where Ben’s mom had raised the garage door for Samson to enter.

Ben and Sam had their “play date” for a couple of hours and, after they were through, Ben’s mom called me to say the “boys” were done playing and to let me know she was sending Sammy home. She then lifted the garage door and Samson bounded out and came running home where I threw open the front door. I was greeted by the most wonderful doggy appreciation known to man (or woman)!

If Samson hadn’t been trustworthy with his boundaries, I couldn’t have take him on the great runs we did together. He wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play with Ben that way. Samson would have been on a leash a lot more. I would never send him down the street!

Even more than I longed for Samson to delight in romping with his buddy, Ben, God wants me to thrill in the wonderful gifts he gives. He sees what I do with the freedom he offers me, now. The way I abuse the freedom he has given me now, keeps me from experiencing the broadening of my boundaries, I think. With Samson, there was truly a safety issue. Had Samson not been trustworthy with his boundaries, safety would require that I keep him on a leash. I think it is the same way with me with God. Left to myself, I am not trustworthy with the boundaries he has given me. This is to my detriment. God wants me to be free and safe. The boundaries he has given me now are wonderful and yet I chafe. I abuse the freedom I have even now–how can he expand the boundary lines when he knows I couldn’t handle it?

How about you?

Can you identify more with me? Or with Samson? Are you the type of person who responds well to the boundaries that God has established for you?

If you are more like me, what truths can you tell yourself that will help you to delight more fully in the blessings of the boundaries God has established for you and to chafe less? (I am asking myself this question, too!)


Here is Samson’s memorial video. I share it with you because you will see what I mean about him. He wanted to be close to the one who loved him the most. I want that to be my heart for God. Not only will I experience greater joy, but I know that then he will be able to trust me with broader boundaries. I want all that he has for me.

(The other dog in the video is a wolf hybrid that Sammy rescued. 🙂 His heart broke when Samson went to rainbow bridge. Bo joined him almost exactly a year later. If you want to see his memorial video, it’s here: http://youtu.be/s178EdeIP-k)

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9 Responses to Lessons From My Dog About Expanding Boundaries

  1. Kim Bass Finley July 30, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Thank you for this today-it is very timely and just what I needed. I will rest in the fact He knows what He is doing with giving me the boundaries He has given me and I will work on not fighting them so much and ask myself, what am I doing with the freedom God has given me?

  2. Carrie July 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    What a lovely video, Heidi. Didn’t know I needed to bring a box of tissues to my computer! Dogs are just the best, aren’t they? They look at you with those sweet brown (most of the time) eyes and just seem to ask/say “what do you want me to do?”, “where are you going, I’ll follow”, “please help me, I need you – ie feed me, take me outside, pet me”, and “thanks for loving me.” At least that’s what I think my dog Max says to me when he stares at me Also, he often wants to get on the furniture which usually isn’t allowed….Anyway, I could use a lesson from my dog re my Caregiver/Father – the One on whom I am completely dependent (or should be). I should be looking at God and asking some of those questions/saying those things to Him. You have given me lots to think about re: the boundaries and freedom in them and staying in them so that they broaden.

    • Heidi Bylsma July 31, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Sorry, Carrie! I should have warned you! Yes, dogs are wonderfully forgiving “people.” 🙂

  3. Barbi July 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Great connection between Sampson and You..and God and us..I love this video..I had seen it when we were in another group together..He was a beautiful, faithful dog..I so well remember stories about him and Bo..How sad our group was when you lost the both of them..Good story to remember when I think I want to “push” my boundaries..Love you…Barbi /

    • Heidi Bylsma July 31, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      Hi, Barbi. Yes, you folks at IncrediWILD went through a lot with me. What a wonderful community you provided!

  4. Susan July 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Love this, Heidi! I believe we can learn a lot from our animals if we just pay attention to what God is saying. Also, just what I needed to hear about freedom and boundaries!

    • Heidi Bylsma August 1, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      So glad, Susan! I think God has given me so many animals over the years because he knew I needed to hear the lessons he has for me not merely in stereo, but SURROUND SOUND! Most people could learn with one horse and one dog what it has taken me FOUR HORSES and two dogs (and a chinchilla) to learn. And that was just during ONE period of time! LOL! I am soooo slow on the uptake!

      • Susan August 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

        I completely get that! lol. Maybe I just need to buy a zoo!..=) Haha. I really do appreciate the way you share your heart! Your posts are a great encouragement to me. Thanks, Heidi!

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