DEALING WITH DOGS
Many people have had more experiences with dogs than I have, but I’m writing because my dealings with dogs show how God has been faithful even in small ways.
When I was growing up we usually had a family dog. One dog would come in on cold winter night and be allowed on the rug near the door. Another dog we had was nice to everyone except one neighbor who had been mean to him. I remember my mother crying when one dog was killed by a car.
I had a paper route and remember a dog following me and instinctively turning around and saying, “Shame Honey” when I thought she might bite me. I liked to walk and would sometimes go quite a bit out of my way to avoid a dog. Walking by farms in the country was unpleasant not knowing what to expect.
One house I walked by had a black lab and he would join me for my walks returning to his home when we came back. I remember the security that gave me to have him with me as protection both against people and other dogs.
When we lived in Nova Scotia, a long time later, I had a paper route. I didn’t enjoy it because of a fear of dogs. I was thinking about quitting when I read:
“The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!” Proverbs 22:13
“A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!” Proverbs 26:13
The sluggard or lazy person is afraid to go outside because there is a lion – I’m afraid because there might be a dog! I decided not to quit. Instead, remembering my experience as a girl, I prayed for a dog to go with me. That was a specific request and the Lord gave me a specific answer. One of the first houses on my route had a large golden lab. She barked at first but soon we were friends and she went with me for my paper route returning to her home when we were through. She was as afraid as I was and would come close to me whenever she saw a dog. Because she was so big, no dog ever hurt us. We were both happy and I enjoyed my paper route.
On Sunday morning my husband Jim would pick up children for Sunday school. I don’t enjoy riding, but love to walk. I decided to get out of the bus and walk while Jim was picking up children on the mountain. When he came back down he would pick me up on the way to church. Usually my daughter Jill would come with me. Jill and I had spent quite a bit of time together before she started school, but now she was gone often. I realized what a blessing it was to have that time alone with her. She was a comfort to me even thought if a dog tried to hurt us I would pick her up. I was afraid of one dog that was tied up. One day it wasn’t tied up, but was friendly and I realized how ridiculous it was to be afraid.
Another time I was walking alone while Jim was on the mountain. He didn’t come when he usually does so I had to keep walking into town past unfamiliar territory. I was sick of being afraid so I prayed, “Dear God, don’t let me be afraid.” As a neared town a dog on a lease got away from his master and came running out to me. I just stood there, unafraid. The dog bit the end of my coat and then returned to his master. I realized that if I had been afraid, it might have bit me.
Several times in my life I was almost bit by a dog, but only once was I bit and that time not very hard. Where we now live in the NWT, our neighbor’s collie seemed not to like me, but because no one had ever mentioned him harming them, because I didn’t see him often and because he looked like another dog I knew I didn’t pay much attention. Only when he actually bit me (though not hard) did I realize I needed to be careful. I arranged with my neighbor that whenever I was going to walk by I would call first to make sure the dog wasn’t outside. She was an older lady who loved her dog. She died soon after and one of the relatives took the dog.
When we moved to a larger property in the NWT Jim wanted a dog. I didn’t care. We almost got a dog from SMCC, but he had short hair and we wanted an outdoor dog. I didn’t really like him. He wasn’t mean but not friendly either.
Now we have our own dog and he is a joy! When a man from the Native Reserve asked Jim if he wanted a dog, he jumped at the chance. When it came time to get the dog, his little girl didn’t want to give up the white dog. We took a brother of that one named Cocoa. I petted Cocoa all the way home to assure him everything was okay. Because he prefers women to men, but mainly because God had a special gift for me, Cocoa became attached to me. He waits outside for me to go for a walk with him and usually won’t go with anyone else unless I am along.
He loves Jim, too, and when we come home (I go into town one day a week when Jim goes for work or we go to church) he gets so excited and runs to me to be petted, then to Jim, then to me, etc.
When he was young we kept him tied to his dog house till he knew where his home was. One day Jim & I came home and Cocoa’s tie rope was tangled around his leg. Jim cut the rope and we rushed him to the vet. He was fine, but bwe found him just in time.
When he was young we couldn’t leave our shoes outside or he would run off with them. One day the purse of one of the girl leaders was missing. We found it in the back yard with the contents out on the ground. She thanked Cocoa for finding it, when undoutably he was the thief.
He’s smart. When our granddaughter Gracie was about three, she was kneeling by the river, Cocoa came running and knocked her into the water. She cried and cried. After that Cocoa stopped short before he reached her.
He has thick fur and smells I’m told (I don’t smell well). He only had a bath once. He was loaded with briars so Jkm took him to be bathed and groomed. He looked perfectly groomed, but it didn’t suit him.
Another time, one of our friends planned to give him a bath. He must have known because we couldn’t catch him. We usually can – Jim often picks him up.
A few times he disappeared. Once we looked all over for him – maybe a wolf got him, someone took him. He was hit by a car, etc. After a few days we found him the garage (which we didn’t use every day), happy as could be. He had gotten into a bag of dog food stored in the garage and could drink water from an indentation to collect excess water. He had come into the garage (where he knows he shouldn’t be) with me and I didn’t notice him.
Several times he has gone into one of our camp cabins and has been shut in till we find him. He should know he’s not supposed to be there, but since the campers don’t always abide by that rule (even me when I was trying to get him to stay on our property instead of going to the neighbors during a thunderstorm), it must be confusing.
He usually is very obedient. Jim had to tell him only once not to beg for food at a barbeque. He sits and waits until we are finished when he gets the scraps. He does visit the neighbors sometimes. Some neighbors like him but others are annoyed. It’s hard to make him understand that he shouldn’t go to some neighbors.
He is a different dog when he is afraid. He is terrified by loud noises. He has broken through the screen on garage doors and our house window screen. He has come into neighbor’s house and won’t leave. He even bit one man on the hand when he tried to get him to leave, Thank goodness, this man was tolerant. Cocoa has lots of room on our property and he go could under our deck.
I try to remember to pray every day that he will stay out of trouble. I thank God for him all the time and pray for God to bless him and let him be a blessing.
I wrote this poem based on a plague my mother gave my father years ago:
You are our strong protecting cur.
You gottun muscle, mostly fur.
You thinkum you one handsome hound.
You needum bath, otherwise you’re sound.
You not much good; you heep big pain.
We love you plenty, just the same.
Signum, Jim and Jerri, your owners/parents/servants
“To my Chief,
You are my big strong Indian chief.
You gottum muscle, mostly beef.
You thinkum you one handsome brave.
You needum haircut, needum shave.
You not much good; you heep big pain.
Me love you plenty just the shame.
Signum, Edna, your squaw.”