My Best Jesus Imitation

Meet Yip and Yelp

The neighbor in my backyard just got two beagles. I have no idea what their names are but we call them Yip and Yelp. 

These dogs howl at the slightest provocation. The neighbors on the either side of me are threatening to move. Or call the police. Or animal control. 

The beagle’s mom and dad go to work VERY early and … you guessed it, Yip and Yelp are up VERY early, too. Howling at whatever nocturnal thing is moving in their backyard before dawn’s early light. 

Dave and I have tried to make friends with Yip and Yelp, but they continue to howl at us every time we step outside or can be seen in the kitchen window. They have excellent eyesight to go with the well-developed vocal cords. 

Now when they howl —  we howl back – you know, just to be friendly. 

It’s comedic. Someone should take video. 

I wonder as I write this, how you think I should I handle this situation? 

I could get all up in my neighbor’s face and say, “Do something about your dogs. They make so much noise!” 

Problem is, I don’t know them all that well yet, and when they find out I follow Jesus, I don’t want them to be mad at him for the way I treat them.

Rewrite the story. 

Instead of getting all upset over something I really can’t control, I tell myself a different story about the situation. An empathetic story. 

What if Yip and Yelp’s owners are frustrated, too? Before Yip and Yelp lived there, two big, fluffy, lazy, quiet dogs roamed the yard. 

I imagine Yip and Yelp are on their owner’s last nerve trying to keep them quiet. 

Find something to be thankful for.

Instead of getting all upset about Yip and Yelp’s racket, I can be thankful for their alertness and their alarm toward all intruders. Perhaps their howling keeps the neighborhood protected from burglars, vandals and ne’er do wells. 

Play along

Rather than let the howling annoy me, I can play along, make it a guessing game of  what tune they are howling. It’s hard to tell, but that means I potentially always win. 

Preserving relationships

Loving like I imagine Jesus would, being pleasant to my neighbors and not complaining about Yip and Yelp has opened the door to some lovely conversations with their owners. 

Consider the obvious

Life is challenging enough without getting up in arms over every little thing. Or every noisy thing. 

Sometimes you’ve got to rewrite the story, find something to be thankful for and play along in order for relationships to survive and for life to work.

You have to do your best Jesus imitation. 

What about you?

What’s new or exciting or noisy or annoying in your neighborhood? Someone playing hide and seek with your lawn ornaments? Got a neighbor with Christmas lights up and on already? Is the guy across the street ever going to rake his leaves? What about the lady who parks right in front of your mailbox?


Life is messy, Friend. If you follow Jesus, don’t make him look bad. The LORD is counting on you to do your best Jesus imitation.  


Verse for today: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV 


Prayer: Jesus, there are so many people in my life who challenge me. And your word tells me in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. You are love. You want me to be like you. Help me love like you do. In your name we pray, amen. 



  1. Judi Asiala on November 13, 2022 at 7:27 am

    I live in the country, so neighbors are farther apart. Good thing since one of my dogs is “Miss Barksalot”! You could suggest an indoor kennel for them.

    • Vicki on November 13, 2022 at 7:46 am

      If your neighbors tell you the dogs can have Milkbones, there’s your answer. You and Dave will be the new BFF to the beagle brothers. I have become the dog whisperer in my neighborhood. I walk often early in the morning and carry a bag of small size Milkbones with me. The dogs all see me often before I see them and will wait for their bones. It’s amazing how quickly they adapt to treats and no more barking. Win-win for all.

      • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:49 pm

        Great idea, Vicki. Thanks for posting.

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:48 pm

      haha, Miss Barksalot! Your wit made my day.

  2. Debbie from Aiken on November 13, 2022 at 8:00 am

    My friend’s neighbor bought something that would make a high pitch sound when the new neighbor 2 dogs barked. The constant barking has stopped.
    It worked for him.

    • Cherie Turlington on November 13, 2022 at 1:11 pm

      In our neighborhood, we take a few inexpensive dog toys and some treats to the new dog owners as a “puppy shower gift.” This way you are kindly making friends with your neighbors and meeting the dogs in their home and opening up a friendly dialogue with the owners. This can lead to solutions and possibilities to talk about Jesus.

      • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:45 pm

        Great idea, Cherie! Thanks for posting.

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:48 pm

      Interesting idea. Thanks for posting.

  3. Carrie Parsons on November 13, 2022 at 8:10 am

    I thank you for this story I don’t have neighbors close enough for anything like this to happen but, my husbands parents live with us and it’s the little things I just want to scream about they things they do. So this story makes a great point and I need to use this. Thanks Robyn for this and yes I just purchased your book growing your faith. Excited to read it.

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:47 pm

      Hurrah! Thanks for the post and the purchase. I know you’ll love Growing Your Faith! It’s full of little stories like this.

      And, well done for loving, serving, caring for and sharing life with your in-laws. I’ve done that, too and it can be challenging.

  4. Juleigh Newmaster on November 13, 2022 at 9:12 am

    I thank you for this story, we all need to turn annoying things into what would Jesus do…I needed the reminder. As far as barking dogs go, that’s like chronic pain, it’s not easy to deal with. We have all had this problem. It is against the law for dogs to bark for hours. You can call the police, the neighbors are at work, I’m sure they are unaware of them barking. Or what I did was go to the butcher and ask for cow knuckle bones, they are free ir maybe a dollar. Toss 2 of those over, so they don’t fight over them. It keeps them bust for hours. I would have some in the freezer when the dog finished the bone, which takes days, then I’d toss another one over. Finally my the later, my neighbor asked if it was me throwing bones. It is, I said, her answer, man my dog loves them!! She never knew why I did, just thought I was being nice. So never had a confrontation. Good luck

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:46 pm

      I love a happy ending! Thanks for the idea and for posting.

  5. Kristin Lyngaas on November 13, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    We used a beverage can with a few coins in it, and taped the opening. When they bark or howl shake it immediately. Pretty soon they get the idea. It works!

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:44 pm

      What a novel idea. Thanks for posting!

  6. Eileen Bear on November 13, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    I love this. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and rewrite the story. Thank you for this. I met you in September at Camp Lolijwa, Newville PA.

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Eileen,
      That was such a great retreat, wasn’t it? Thanks so much for posting!

  7. Ruth Shullick on November 13, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    The only thing going on here with me is tomorrow Nov 14th my husband will more than likely get his ungodly divorce. The last time we meet with judge she was very set on signing off on his divorce. Please pray God changes her heart, God will be very present in that courtroom tomorrow at 3:30. God gives me the strength and endurance I need to get through all this. Pray God moves in my husband’s heart and my husband will be willing to stop this and work on our marriage. I know with work we can overcome the issues.
    11 years we have been married and he says he doesn’t want this but is afraid we can’t overcome the issues. I know we can!

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      Oh Lord have mercy. Change minds, family trees, and futures, Lord. May you be at the center of this situation and may Ruth see you in every view.

    • Leslie Russell on November 16, 2022 at 11:39 am

      Praying for a miracle, Ruth

  8. Lynne Bradley-Horan on November 13, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Being a Dog Lover, this message is a lasting lesson for me — connecting the Love of Jesus with the Love of Poochies.
    I can take this Lesson of Love with me throughout.

    • Robyn Dykstra on November 13, 2022 at 7:42 pm

      You love well, Lynne!

  9. Deb Mueller on November 14, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Loved this story! It applies to so many areas in life! The possibilities are endless. Lessons is patience equal lessons in God’s love! Imagine how those ‘little’ choices and actions we make, while God gently tries to lead us to look at Him and act accordingly. Thank you.

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