How I Changed My Dog’s Dysfunctional System


God is a God of organization. It doesn’t take much research to see and understand this truth. Just look at our solar system. God is a God of systems. Without a good system in any area of our lives, we agonize. Notice I said good system because we do everything by systems, both good and bad.

My Dog’s System

I have a Golden Retriever named Hubble. He’s a big dog, weighing about 90 pounds. When Hubble was about one year old, he would get up in one of the lounge chairs on our porch. While he loved being up in the chair, he was afraid to get down. When Hubble decided it was time to get out of the chair, he would bark until one of us went out and grabbed him by the collar. We didn’t have to pull him down; he just needed the assurance we were there. He may have thought we were helping him down, but we weren’t and he certainly didn’t need us to assist. He was plenty capable.

One day I had settled down on the couch and, sure enough, Hubble started barking. I did what I normally did and called for one of the kids to go out and help him down. No one heard me. Hubble continued barking, and I continued calling to no avail. I realized in that moment that the dog and my family had a system in place. Hubble would get on his chair, he would bark, and one of us would go out and make him feel as if we were helping him down. It was a system that was no longer delivering the results I desired, so I decided I was going to introduce Hubble to a new system. I got some of his favorite food and went outside. This time, instead of touching him and making him think I was assisting him, I put the food on the porch in front of him. He continued barking, but I kept telling him that he could get down, bribing him with the tasty treat. Slowly, he put his paw on the ground and, with great trepidation, stepped off his chair. Over the next several days I moved his chair inside so we could keep working with Hubble to remind him he could get down off his chair by himself. Soon, the new system was working like a charm. Again, it wasn’t that Hubble wasn’t capable; but when he was a small pup I had put a system in place that Hubble thought he had to operate by in order to get down.

Be Intentional About Systems

Our lives revolve around systems. God designed it that way. It’s so important we are intentional with the systems we use. The key is to initiate. In what areas of your life are you allowing a bad system—the way you do something—to hinder your Life Palette? A poor system for any area of your life will result in you agonizing over it. The more organized you are, the more you empower God to balance the composition of your life.

(This blog is adapted from my book Life Palette