There are a lot of tragic events that go on in the world today. So a puppy running away is a very small event. But if you are the owner, it is big to you. Our young neighbor, Lucy, bought a beautiful,six month old golden-doodle puppy. The first night, the dog slept in her bedroom being loved by a girl. But early the next morning her mom opened the door and the dog darted out and kept running. Her mom was unable to catch him and she and Lucy was heartbroken.
Thus started nine days of neighbors and friends spotting the dog and trying to catch him. Each time he would run and hid in the woods.
We would drive down the road looking and occasionally spot it. One neighbor sat out in the woods holding a hotdog hoping the smell would lure the hungry dog to her. She could see it in the woods with its tongue hanging out but couldn’t get close. They would set food out but to no avail. I rode my horse through the woods and down the trails but saw no sign of him.
Meanwhile Lucy was miserable. She would walk the roads shedding many tears. She told me she sat at the window with binoculars watching the fields. My heart broke for her.
After about a week, this six month puppy did an amazing thing. He had been hanging out about a quarter of a mile away and suddenly one night, Lucy looked out the window and he was sleeping outside her bedroom window. Now remember he had only spent one night there. When she tried to get it to come to her it ran again. Longing to go home but also afraid. Sounds like us Christians sometimes. Wanting to come to God but also afraid and staying in our old lifestyle.
Several of us were praying so hard for this little dog and grieving owner. I would pray, "Jesus, let them see you through this puppy coming home.” It bothered me so much that this puppy was alone in the woods at night. We would find garbage on the road where someone had thrown trash out and he would get it for food. Lucy sat out a trap with food but it remained untouched. She had even got the owner of the puppy that was this dog’s brother out and they walked the fields with it.
On Sunday night (a week from when he ran away) I was coming in from church and spotted him down the road. I drove down there but he hit the woods and disappeared.
Now these woods have a fenced highway bordering one side, road in front and huge ravine on another side so it is boxed in somewhat. I called Lucy and went home and changed clothes and got my two dogs and rode my bike down there. She and I and the dogs searched all the trails but all we got were mosquito bites. Lucy was now buying McDonald hamburgers and using them as bait. She walked the woods with a burger in her hand.
The next day in the middle of the day I rode my bike past the area and here came Lucy out of the woods, sweating with bug bites all over her. My heart went out to her. I told her she had to go on and not let this consume her. She was doing everything she could. She and I both said we are praying so hard. While we were talking, we heard a dog bark, so we searched the woods again but again no puppy.
This brings the story to day nine. Before I go on, let me say, my God is an awesome, powerful God with a tender heart.
I have walked in the mornings at 6 AM for fifteen years now, maybe longer, with a couple of friends. Solved many problems and could solve world problems if they would listen to us. We were walking past Lucy’s house when I saw the dog up near the house just standing in the pasture. Then I saw Lucy easing around the house. The dog hesitated and thought about not running. Didn’t he know that food, protection, love were all waiting in open arms for him? Again like us Christians-- We can be dirty, tired, and lost and our Father is waiting with open arms for us. But sometimes we choose to run and stay in our wilderness.
The dog, which Lucy is calling Houdini by now, runs through the pasture toward the road where we are standing. I had my two dogs with me so I turned them loose to see if the puppy would go to them. Houdini stops and tries to hide. I went in the pasture and tried to corner him while my two friends guarded the road. We got close but then he ran past them to the woods where he could hide and feel safe. Instead of continuing our walk we were all determined to keep looking. I felt like the puppy was weak and we needed to push him.
I took my dogs into the woods. There were thoughts of snakes and ticks but I couldn’t dwell on that right now. The two friends watched the road so we would know he was still in there. You have heard of a prayer walk, well that is what we did. They prayed and watched and I prayed and walked. I made it all the way to the lake but saw nothing. The dogs would run ahead and I hoped they would flush him out.
Finally I started the trail back to the road, and the dogs were ahead of me in the tall grass. Suddenly I heard a yelp. Praying it was the puppy, I hurried through the woods to the area where I had heard him. My dogs were there but I couldn’t see the puppy. Then I turned and there, out on a log hanging over the twenty five foot ravine, was the puppy.
(I had to go back later in the day to take pictures of that log!)
He had walked out on the rotten log and was hanging on with nowhere to go but straight down. There was nothing but air and a long fall beneath him. I tried to get my dogs back and they did so good and listened. Then I had to ease up to the log and had no choice but to get on it to get the puppy. Now, I don’t want this in any way to say I was brave or heroic. You have to understand this felt like such a God-thing. He trapped that puppy with no escape but death. He put him in the only area that I would be able to get it. As I got closer on the log to him, I reached out and grabbed his fur. Now he could have still fallen if he moved but he hunkered down and held on. I had to get my hands under and lift him. He is a half grown big dog so it wasn’t easy. But I was moving on adrenaline and excitement. I was able to gather him up and back off the log. A God thing.
The feeling was the same as if you had almost had a bad wreck and you saw at the last second how God delivered you from a terrible accident. I was so grateful. I keep repeating, “God you are so good. Thank you, thank you. I am so glad You did this.” I was ecstatic. I had to walk through the woods and weeds to get to the road with him cradled in my arms. He relaxed and laid there so that helped, but I wasn’t letting go.
When I got to road and came out, my friend said she would have loved to have had a picture. I was smiling so big and cradling this dirty, wet, smelling puppy. Lucy had just left because she had to be somewhere and her mom was driving out heading to work. She was so excited and called Lucy who turned around and came home. It was a long walk to the house but I wouldn’t put him down. The funny part was my friend is not a dog person. But she grabbed the rear end to help carry him and we awkwardly headed to the house. When we got to porch, the mom said here is the cage but we said no, lets go in the house and close the door. I wasn’t taking a chance.
We put him in cage inside and then Lucy come flying up. The look on her face said it all. She was so happy.
I took my dogs home. They were tired but had fun rescuing.
I have talked to her throughout the day and she went out and bought a harness, and flea soap. He was covered in ticks.
Her last text stated that he starting to look better. What a sweet picture and story ending.
When he was on that log it reminded me of the story in Luke of the lost sheep. Luke 15:4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”
Think about that. We are like Houdini and that lost lamb. Our Lord rejoices over that one person who had rejected Him, wandered in the wilderness and then when we turn back, He rejoices and loves on us and carries us.
Thank you, God. You are a good, good Father.