Tag Archive | dogs

God Can Get Your Dog Out of a Tree

skye-watchingOne night this week my small cattledog Skye began to bark like crazy from the back of my yard. It was dark. It was raining. I called for her, but she wouldn’t come inside. No, whatever had captured her attention back there was much more interesting than I was.

I grabbed a flashlight and headed back. The back of our yard is filled with trees and scrub, so I had push through. I heard her, and I swung the flashlight all over but couldn’t see her. Then I saw motion overhead, so I flashed the light and found something black and white in the tree. Ah. A neighbor cat. Explained the barking. She loves to tree cats. Again I flashed the light under the neighbor cat, but still no dog, although I could hear her.

At this point I flashed up at the neighbor cat again. It was on a large, wide, broken trunk of tree, seven feet off the ground. Only it wasn’t the neighbor cat. It was my dog, over my head, in a tree, barking and whining like the world was coming to an end.

I thought she was stuck. I climbed over the back fence to the other side of the tree and began to coax her down. If she got close enough, I could grab her and pull her from the tree. She was still barking like the apocalypse was near. Then I happened to glance to my left, and I almost dropped the flashlight, because I was staring at a possum, six inches from my face at eye level, tucked into the crook of the tree.

I had no idea what to do next. Possums aren’t generally dangerous, but when you’re flashing a light in its face and your dog is above it barking like a wild monster–well, I would bite, too. So now I’m trying to coax my dog to the side while attempting not to get bitten by a terrified possum.

In the dark.

In the rain.

I yelled at the dog. I guess eventually I sounded angry enough to catch Skye’s attention, because she turned around, walked along the broken trunk (it was arched over the fence like a bridge, something I hadn’t realized until this very dark, very wet moment), and headed back down into my yard. I climbed the fence, grabbed the dog, and stomped into the house, both of us wet and tired.

The whole time I wished my husband had been there. I kept thinking if he hadn’t been at work, if he’d been here, he’d have known exactly what to do. I have known my husband more than half his life. I know for a fact he has no experience coaxing dogs out of trees while trying to avoid possums. In the rain. In the dark. But I also know for a fact he would have helped me. I always believe he can do anything. He’d have been out there in the rain with me because he loves me. Together we’d have figured it out.

As I was thinking about this, I came to a sad realization. It’s a truth I’ve posted about more than once this year, and I think it’s time to deal with this little problem. My husband loves me with an imperfect love. He doesn’t always have the skills to help, even though I tell myself he can do anything. And yet I trust he will always come and always help.

God loves me with perfect love. He always has the skills I need. And yet, I don’t always trust Him to come and help.

It’s a big deal right now for Christians to try to know their identity in Christ, to know what they mean to God. I realize I need to back up a step. Once again I am faced with the truth that I still don’t know God. Not very well. I’m pretty sure if I knew His character, understood His love, knew His real compassion and power and knowledge, I wouldn’t hesitate to call him to get my dog out of trees. I’d be able to trust Him with the souls of my children without fear. I could face ageing with a chronic illness without worry. I could line up my days with joy and not doubt.

So. This year I crashed and burned with my Bible reading. And I  think I know why. I need to simplify. Someone once told me I need to read a Bible passage and ask “What does this say about God? What does it say about me? How can I apply this?” Well, I need remedial Bible reading. For now, the question needs to be “What does this say about God?” And then I need to stop there.  Until I can answer that with some wisdom, until I can be consistent and stop falling back to the idea of God as angry or distant or unloving, I can’t possibly know myself or how to behave. (Okay, within reason. I’m not going to throw obedience to the wind. But the focus needs to be HIM.)

I have no idea how to keep our dog in the yard now that she knows she might find possums in trees. Now that she realizes she can climb trees. But at least now I know where to look if she goes crazy again. And I know who to call. Part of this is knowing God. Part of it is putting that knowledge to the test and calling on God all the time, for all things. He loves me. He’ll come. I never have to slog through the dark rain alone.

The Saga of Goose

saga of gooseSometimes I write just for fun. No lessons, no brilliant epiphanies (ha), simply the fun stuff that happens in life. Today is one of those days. And, surprise, surprise, my fun story revolves around my pets.

I have two dogs. My Chihuahua Sparrow is my tiny guardian. He spends nearly all his life at my feet or in my lap or snuggled on my pillow (yes, I’m one of those crazy people who sleeps with her dog.) Skye is a 9 month-old Australian cattledog. She is a never-ending font of energy.

Because Skye loves to be outside, we taught her to use a dog door. It wasn’t an easy task. For the longest time she’d only exit or enter when we touched the door and gave her permission. Then finally, after several weeks, she did it on her own. She could come and go into our fenced yard at will. That made life easier for those of us called on to let her in and out a thousand times a day.

Unfortunately, she can also take things outside. One day my slipper ended up on the garden path outside the door. I need to have a talk with her about being cliché—I mean, stealing slippers? One afternoon I came home to find half the stuffing from one of the couch cushions out there. Kitchen towels, toilet paper tubes—she loves to take things out there because I can’t see her chewing them. And, of course, she can take dog toys out there, especially toys she wants to hide from Sparrow.

The other day my husband mowed the yard. Skye watched this from indoors, because she doesn’t like the mower. She sat in the back window and stared, and then she began to whimper. She ran to the door, put her head out, decided she didn’t like the sound, and returned to the window to whimper. Over and over again. I thought she was scared because my husband and the mower were getting closer and closer to the house and therefore to her.

The mower stopped, and my husband walked in with goose in his hand. Goose is the third player in this story. For an inanimate object, he’s very important in the life of my dogs.

When Sparrow was small, we bought him a stuffed goose toy. He loved it. He chewed it. As he tore up a section, I would cut it off–wings, feet, the head. It was pretty creepy. Eventually I had to throw goose away, and I replaced it. The third time this happened, I replaced it with a similar toy that was a pheasant. And the fourth time, it was a fox. But Sparrow knows the term goose, so we call all these similar toys goose.

The toy my husband ran over was the fox incarnation of goose. Goose was now in three parts: head, torso, tail. Sparrow saw this, grabbed the head, and ran off to chew it. Skye took the torso. My husband returned to mowing, and Skye no longer paid any attention. I’m pretty sure she knew where she’d left goose, and she knew my husband was getting closer and closer to it with the loud, scary machine. It scared her to death. But when goose came inside, even in pieces, she was okay again.

I need to get a new goose. We still have the one hit with the mower, but it completely freaks me out when Sparrow carries around the head. It’s always lying there with its eyes peering up at everyone. Often Sparrow sits a couple feet away and growls at Skye when she gets too close. I find myself wondering if the disembodied head of his toy doesn’t wig him out a little bit, too, because he’ll sit close enough to watch it but not close enough to touch it. Also, Sparrow likes to play tug of war with goose, and the little head is simply too small for a good game of tug of war.

The fate of the dog door is still up in the air. I’m too lazy to let Skye in and out a thousand times a day. But our back yard looks like a trash heap. A couple days ago it was a big square of sandpaper. I don’t know where she found it, and it frustrates me that I think I’ve decluttered my house, and yet she finds zillions of little things in hidden nooks and crannies and puts them outside. I should put a low trash can out there and train her to throw things away. Yeah, right.

As I said, this post has no point, except I like dog stories. For animals with no jobs, no purposes, they love dramas. I also have four cats, and the cat-dog dramas are fun, too. They entertain us all the time.

I honestly don’t know why God made animals. I don’t think most of them have a practical role on the planet. But I’m so thankful he did. I think originally they were all made to entertain us, to be companions, to enrich our lives, before we sinned and they were filled with fear of us. Those we’ve tamed remind us of how things were meant to be, a little glimpse back into the garden.

I hope very much that our heavenly home will have animals. I want to laugh at them and enjoy them and snuggle with them. Only we won’t be limited to dogs and cats, I think. We’ll snuggle wombats and wallabies and tigers and elephants. Koalas. Aye Ayes. I want to see whales up close and swim with dolphins. I want birds to land on my shoulder. Animals are cool. Just one more way God went over and above making a complex, beautiful world for us.