Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Not So Incredible Journey
One of my favorite movies when I was a little girl was Disney's The Incredible Journey. The live- action film about 2 dogs and a cat traveling together through trials and tribulations in the Canadian wilderness some 200 amazing miles to get back to their beloved owners was thrilling. I would look at my cat and wonder, "Would you try to find me if we were separated like that?" The remake in the early 90's with the animals voiced by Michael J. Fox and Sally Fields was one of my boys' favorites when they were growing up. Having the animals talk to each other made communication so easy - we knew what they were thinking in every situation: Comedic or frightening. Well, I wish my dog, Scout, could talk right now because she has had a terrible adventure and I have no clue what happened to her.
When Mark and I left to go to our friends' Barb and Geza's for New Year's Eve, Scoutie was in her dog house on the side of our house. The side yard is completely enclosed and its where we keep her when no one is home. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 and we should have put her in the garage with our cats, Hershey and Bandit, because of the fireworks and noise that come with the New Year.
When Mark and I got home at 12:30 AM, he went to check on her and discovered that she was gone. Somehow she had pulled herself up over the makeshift fence blocking the side yard from the back yard and then, apparently, squeezed between 2 boards in the fence to make her escape. Whether through sheer doggy curiosity or terror from the noise, I am pretty sure that if Scoutie could talk, she would say, "I've made a big mistake."
Mark drove around for about 30 minutes then continued to get up and check every hour until morning to see if she had come home.
New Year's Day, we both kept checking for her. I made "Lost Dog" signs and Mark rode his bike all over our neighborhood, posting the fliers and looking for our little lost pup.
By today, we had pretty much decided she wasn't coming back. We knew we would be calling the Animal Shelter tomorrow to see if she had been picked up but, since we live out in the county, I didn't really expect that animal control had been out in our neighborhood that night. Our best hope was that someone who wanted and needed a sweet dog had found her lost and alone and had taken her home.
Then, this afternoon, I opened the front door to shake out a tablecloth in the front yard. It was pouring rain. As I stepped out the door I looked up to see what could have been a scene from any Disney animal film. There was Scoutie, walking very slowly and barely able to put one foot in front of the other. She was covered in mud and trembling in the cold rain. I called for Mark and encouraged Scoutie to come into the house. I ran to get towels while Mark knelt down to hold her. We realized that the "mud" was actually dried blood and it was clear that she had been badly hurt. We carried her into the bathroom and gently set her in a warm bath where Mark carefully bathed her wounds. We gave her fresh water to drink which she downed immediately and later some food. It was clear she hadn't eaten in a long time. Then she laid down in her bed and fell into a very deep sleep. We have been checking on her every little while. She's had more water and another round of food. She has stopped trembling. It is clear that she is overjoyed to be back home. From the wounds it appears she tried to crawl under a barbed wire fence or something sharp like that. The cuts and gashes are all around her neck.
As I was sitting there on the floor with her, I got to thinking that Scoutie's adventure reminded me a lot of how we are with God sometimes. He puts us in a place that is good and safe. He cares for us and meets our needs - even when we don't realize it or when we think we need more: Bigger and better needs that God should meet. Scoutie was in a good place with a warm doghouse, fresh water, room to run and 2 great meals a day - not to mention a family that loved and cared for her.
Like Scoutie, though, sometimes we become dissatisfied with what God has provided for us and we want to escape the lives we have...kind of sounds a little bit like the story of the Prodigal son, doesn't it? We strike out to experience an ill-advised and ill-planned adventure, consequences be damned! Or, perhaps Scoutie's actions were motivated purely because of terror and fear. We can make lots of mistakes if we react to things that scare us rather than stopping to pray for God to protect us and calm our fears. Scoutie was never really in danger. The noises scared her but she was in a safe place. Still, poor thing, she ran away.
I think she is going to be ok. It must have been terrifying. We have no idea where she's been or what really happened. I am certain she would not have survived another night in the freezing, rainy cold. We are so grateful she made it home. I imagine this is how God treats his beloved children when they come home from some mistaken adventure. He washes off the mud, blood and sin. He clothes us in clean garments, he strokes our heads and heals our wounds and lays us down in soft beds. He loves us back to himself.
I hope its a story with a happy ending. I do know, however, that when the large gash on Scoutie's neck heals, it going to leave a pretty big scar. That's going to be a life long reminder of her nightmare adventure.
Its often that way with the sins in our lives too. We are loved back to God but we still bear the consequences of those wrong choices.
So, this year I hope and pray that I am able to remain close to the Lord, that I find my satisfaction in the places he sets my feet and guides me to walk. When I am tempted to do something I know I shouldn't, I hope I remember Scoutie's New Year's Not So Incredible Journey. It's my prayer for you too!
Well, poor Scoutie is struggling to recover. We took her the vet on Monday and were told that all the wounds were definitely the result of an attack by another animal, probably a large dog. It must have been a fierce battle. The doctor shaved all the hair around the wounds and cleaned them a bit - she was really mauled. I can't imagine how she survived the fight and then 2 nights out in our uncharacteristically bitter cold (it was below freezing both nights). We've been cleaning and dressing the wounds and giving her antibiotics. Today we've discovered that she probably has a couple of broken or cracked ribs. She mostly sleeps, walking to go outside is difficult and she has no energy. We're doing all we can to love her back to health. She's a good little patient, though, and she never complains when we change her bandages. I don't think I would be so good.