The Pooch in Coach

The second that my wife and I stepped off the jetway into the plane door, we heard the distinct sound of a dog barking. Actually a better description is yapping … constant, non-stop, ear-piercing yapping. Everyone on the maxed-out aircraft could hear it.

All through boarding, backing out, taxiing, taking off, and leveling out at cruising speed, the yapping never stopped. It even drowned out the co-pilot’s announcement.

Finally when “the captain turned off the seat belt signs so we could safely move about the cabin” the lady was able to get her dog out of its mesh bag. You could feel the entire plane react to the sudden silence.

I could overhear people whispering and talking about how this wide-spread practice of people having a licensed, doctor’s permission “comfort dog” has gotten out of hand on planes and how its just a way you can get away with not putting your dog down in cargo inside a crate. (These are not to be confused with service and therapy dogs, which serve a very different purpose.) Now, I had no idea the legitimacy of this lady’s situation but the bottom line was no one on that plane seemed to care because everyone was placed in a great deal of discomfort for her comfort.

But today is not about the practice of comfort dogs on planes but rather about the bigger picture concept of us desiring our own comfort at the expense of others. Or our perception of comfort.

Seeing the negative reaction of an entire plane triggered my question: when and where do I do something or say something that is really only about my own comfort in any situation that makes everyone else in the room uncomfortable? I know I have a “comfort dog” or maybe an entire pack? We all do. It’s a matter of whether we recognize it or not. The lady on the plane got the very clear message that people were not comfortable with her comfort dog. That was glaringly obvious. But all too often, our own actions or words to make ourselves feel comfortable in an insecure setting are not as obvious to us as they may be to the others in our families or workplaces or church or any place we deal with people.

Here are a few examples of “comfort dogs” in our lives:

Maybe its time for us to crate up our “comfort dogs” and check them into the cargo hold before we get on our next flight. Unless you’re flying solo, of course.

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. —Proverbs 15:31-33 NLT


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