Lessons from Kacie, the Cranky Shih Tzu

We call her Kacie-Facie.  Or simply The Face.  I mean, how could you not?  Just look at her!

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Fifteen years ago, on a sunny day in early May, Alex and I drove to a Denny’s parking lot, off the highway, midway between the Indiana breeder and our Chicago home.  We had done our research.  According to all accounts, shih tzu’s were affectionate lap dogs with docile personalities.  We  had recently spent time with a shih tzu named Lulu who confirmed this description, cuddling  in our laps, staring at us with adoring eyes. Kacie was to be our Lulu.

Unfortunately, no one told Kacie about Lulu or what the word, docile, meant.

From day one, Kacie was a guard dog.  All 4 pounds of her.  She perched at the window sill and stared at passers by.  Don’t even THINK about approaching this house!  

It also became evident that Kacie was not a lap dog.  In fact, when you picked her up, she emitted a gutteral complaint.  Not that she would ever bite. It was simply to say, I have a lot to do, what with guarding this house and all.  So let me down. NOW.  And while you’re at it, get dinner.

Kacie was also not fond of doing her business outside and instead found her spot on our expensive living room rug.  And if she DID decide to go outside, oh, how she would take her time.  If you were late for work, she lingered at every tree, giving the impression of imminent results, lifting her leg in the fashion of a male dog, but then producing nothing.

Kacie spent her puppyhood tormenting our golden retriever, Jessie, who stared at us with sad eyes, her ears wet from Kacie’s chewing.  Why?  Why, I ask you.  Wasn’t I enough?  On summer days, when Brett washed the car, poor Jessie would be leashed up to Kacie to ensure that the little dog would not dash into the street.

Kacie was not a fan of heeling.  She pulled at her leash to the point of gagging. Ever the alpha dog, she fought to be the leader – as we humans clearly needed her direction.

Yet for all her bravado, Kacie was a shivering, panting mess during thunderstorms, refusing our solace, retreating under the bed.  At those times we called her Crazy Kacie.


Now in her 16th year, Kacie has mellowed.  She actually looks guilty when marking  that expensive rug, now unfit for a thrift store. She is impervious to inclement weather because she is hard of hearing.  And she no longer can jump to the window sill perch, though she still barks at potential robbers, rousing our golden from her morning snooze and urging her to grab a sock as a welcome gift.  Usually the intruder is Brett emerging from the bathroom.  Kacie remains unapologetic.

Yet we love this little dog who makes us laugh even while cleaning the carpet for the 100th time.

And beyond the laughter, Kacie has served as a mirrored metaphor to my own spiritual journey,  And my foibles.

For I too am fearful of life’s thunderstorms  And when the noise grows fierce, I hide under a bed and ignore God’s hand of comfort.

I too strain at leashes, pulling away from the One who protects and provides.

I too complain.  When God calls, I don’t listen and worse, I grumble.

I too like to maintain control, or at least give the impression of doing so.  And I won’t hesitate to cross that proverbial street to whatever enticement strikes my fancy.


So Kacie is no Lulu.  But she is my reminder to stay close to God, to trust his gentle leash, and to surrender the window sill and the lead.



Thank you for the gift of  quirky dogs who make us laugh! 

And remind us that even under the bed, your hand is seeking ours.

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