(Note: I wrote the following a couple of years ago about events that happened many years before.)
I love dogs. But for much of my life I have been fearful of and cautious around dogs I haven’t met ... well, large dogs that don’t know me. I was not that way as a young child, but when I was eleven or twelve years of age, a friend’s smallish dog happened to bite me on my face, just below-- and narrowly missing-- my right eye.
Actually, I remember being excited that something interesting had finally happened to me. That is until I had to go the ER, when, not looking forward to going, I shed the tears that I hadn’t from the dog bite itself. My face grew swollen; my eye shut; I had a “butterfly” bandage in lieu of stitches; and I had to have the dreaded tetanus shot. As I recall, my arm hurt worse from the shot than my face did from the bite.
So for years and years, I would go out of my way to avoid “dogs at large,” even to the point of walking the opposite direction from the way I needed to go. I absolutely did not want to confront a medium- to large-sized dog on the loose. And I was amazingly successful. Of course, that was the Good Lord watching out for me, and sometimes just humoring me, even when the dog might have been very friendly.
One day when I was attending college, I pulled up in my car to park, and noticed a couple of dogs running loose on the expanse of grass in front of the classroom building. I immediately felt my guard go up. These dogs were big and powerful. These dogs were Rottweilers. Now, I think Rottweilers are magnificent creatures, but I don’t want to cozy up to one, let alone two, without being properly introduced.
I didn’t want to be late for my class, but I didn’t want to meet up with those dogs either. The lawn they were frolicking on covered a big area, and they seemed to be staying in the farthest-most corner from the building and from where I was parked. I sat for a couple minutes hoping someone would appear in the area so I could gauge how the dogs would react, but there was no one.
So I mustered up my courage, grabbed my books, exited my car, and determinedly headed for the doors of the building as quickly as I could. I was hopeful that if I didn’t look at the dogs whatsoever, they would not be interested in me and would leave me alone.
Something went awry with my plan, though, because I had covered about half the distance to the doors when I could hear paws hitting the ground behind me, followed by loud, exuberant panting that seemed to be coming from about five inches behind my derriere. My worst fear had materialized! But I kept moving toward the doors, not daring to turn around and look. When I reached the building, I hurriedly opened a door and went through. Then as I turned to push the door shut behind me as fast as possible, I finally allowed myself to look at the dogs. The two full-grown Rottweilers were just on the other side of the door, staring up at me as I stared at them. I remember we made eye contact, and they looked at me questioningly, as if they wondered why I had shut the door.
My nerves wouldn’t allow me to linger, but I calmly walked down the long hall to the restrooms at its opposite end. Feeling weak I entered a stall, sat down, and literally began to shake like a leaf. “Oooooo...” I said to myself. That was an encounter that was too close for my comfort. But once I had settled down my nerves, I did feel pleased that I had remained outwardly calm, not falling apart until I was alone.
I did the same thing when I was kidnapped. For being such a nervous-Nellie by nature, I was amazingly calm during the actual ordeal. A police officer related to a mutual acquaintance: “That girl sure used her head.” If so, it was because God was helping me to think things through, just as He helped me not to scream and run when the Rottweilers were at my heels. I believe that is a gift God gives us: When something happens that we don’t anticipate or have time to think about before dealing with it, often we are able to stay calmer. I suppose it is just being in a state of shock, but it is nevertheless a gift that often helps us through an event. Well, at least I am very much that way.
As I grow older, should these kinds of scenarios occur again, the first thing I want to remember to do at their onset and in their midst is to pray to God for His help and to pray earnestly, no matter how short a prayer. I don’t want to rely on myself to take the right actions under such circumstances. I want to call out to Him immediately. In all matters in my life, good or bad, I want to consult my Father before doing anything. I’m still working on establishing that as a habit. But every now and then I realize that my thoughts have turned to God in a situation very early on, and that makes me happy—like I’m starting to “get it.” Jesus consulted his Father constantly, and I want to be like Jesus and do the same.
"...Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed ... Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one."
Thanking God for His wonderful gift of animals,