Learning from man’s best friend: Cobbs examines life teachings in dogs’ actions

Published 6:14 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

Learning to love and how to treat others — including angry family members, disloyal friends and cantankerous neighbors — through Christian values is a challenge for many.

The death of “Brewster,” one of Cobbs’ Bassett Hounds, taught Cobbs to “take every opportunity to express our love.”

The death of “Brewster,” one of Cobbs’ Bassett Hounds, taught Cobbs to “take every opportunity to express our love.”

The challenge, though, can be overcome in many ways by observing those around us, including our faithful and obedient four-legged companions, often touted as man’s best friends.

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Buckingham County native Karen Gough Cobbs’ newest book, “The Dogs of My Life And What They Teach Me About the Kingdom of God,” examines several of the canines she has owned and closely observed, offering Christian lessons she’s learned while interacting with them.

Six dogs, coupled with their photos, which exhibit their unique characters, are showcased in the 94-page book. It includes short stories about individual dogs.


Calling dogs great teachers and role models, Cobbs wants “people to be able to look at their dogs and observe their dogs and what their dogs could teach them about how they could live better and how they could interact better with other people. And how God would have us act with other people.”

The Christian author, who offers her prose on her blog at karencobbs.com, lives with her husband, Joe, in Bedford.

Her book offers the unique perspective taken on “everyday events” she observes in the life of her dogs “and what they could be teaching her about God’s kingdom.”

How dogs interact with people, other dogs and in situations can apply to any life event “if you look for it,” Cobbs wrote.

What led Cobbs to write her first book takes her back some 25 years, she said.

“I read a book by a man named Phillip Kellum. And he was a sheep rancher. The book was called ‘Lessons from a Sheep Dog.’ And, in his book, he outlined eight spiritual truths that he learned from observing his sheep dog. And it was just such an incredible book, and I’ve read it over and over.”

After reading Kellum’s book, she thought to herself that she could “learn something from my dogs that God wants me to apply to my own life to make me better or to make me interact better with other people. And I started looking.”

Not only did her dogs teach her Christian values, but they also offered her reminders of how to live her life and treat others.

One of those lessons came from “Stormy,” a Border Collie, who loved obeying Cobbs.

“It occurred to me that God would want me to obey Him just as joyfully … I saw that so clearly in that dog,” Cobbs said.

Another Border Collie, “Maggie,” who was very different and almost opposite of “Stormy,” taught Cobbs a different lesson.

“I thought, ‘They are so different, and I love them just the same.’ And I thought, ‘Well, you know what, that’s what God wants me to understand, that when He sent his perfect son, Jesus … for everybody else who is anything but perfect, so that through Jesus, we can (live).’ And I used the scripture.”

“As I think back about all my dogs, I realize each was unique,” wrote Cobbs, who serves as music director and a worship leader in her church. “We owned several different breeds, and many were mixed breeds.”

Comparing her dogs to people, she wrote, “We live in a diverse world with numerous races, nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds, life experiences, social order and economic conditions … All people are precious in God’s sight. That is the nature of our loving God.”

Cobbs’ book is available for purchase in Barnes and Noble Bookstores, and online at karencobbs.com and Amazon.