The Dog Days

Yesterday was a beautiful February day. It was warm enough for me to turn the heater off in the house and open up the back door. Aaaaah, refreshing.

All the kids on the street were outside playing and I was doing several things including bagging leaves in our backyard. I would bag some leaves for a while and then walk back into the house to check on work, then go back outside to continue with the leaf fun.

During one of my breaks in the house, my daughter and another girl, who does not usually play on our street, came into our back yard. The girl commanded my daughter to shut our back door. My daughter started to shut it when I told her to leave it open because I was about to go back out. The girl, who is six or seven years old, freaked. “Shut the door. Shut the door now. Just shut the door,” she frantically screamed over and over as she ran out of the yard. Yowza, chill.

What I had forgotten in the year that has passed since she has played here is that this particular child is afraid of dogs. I had also forgotten to what a phobically over-the-top degree she was afraid.

Listen, all I want to know is if you have food, not if you are food. Oh, and will you give me a belly rub?

We have a dog. An old dog. Who doesn’t really move that well anymore. It didn’t matter to her. His presence in our house was enough to send her directly over the edge of what seemed to be a very high cliff. It was only her panicking that caused him to wake up. The girls could have played in the yard and he might never have noticed anyone was there. Even if he did notice and suddenly completely out of character wanted to munch her, by the time he woke up, got his butt up off the ground, yawned and stretched and walked outside, well, let’s just say, she was never in any danger. At all. Ever.

Unlike the day my husband and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful warm day with clear blue skies as we pushed our then newborn baby in her stroller at a leisurely pace. We turned down one street where a big, muscular, and not-necessarily-pleasant-looking Rottweiler ran towards us to greet us.

Oh the choices we have to make in a split second.

If we had chosen to run down Freak Out Avenue as he was running our way, Rotty almost certainly would have taken this as an invitation to not be particularly nice—or to play—the perspective completely depends on which side of the equation you’re on. Or we could do what we did and not show fear, not engage the dog and let it walk along with us. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous because we didn’t know this dog’s temperament or who his people were. I was prepared, as I’m sure my husband was, to step in between the dog and my daughter if necessary.

We walked down the block as the dog strolled along with us, when we finally saw some people in a yard about two houses down on the intersecting street. I yelled over, “Do you know whose dog this is?” The guy looked over and said, “Yeah, that’s my dog.” And then in a commanding voice he said, “Damien, come here.” Of course the dog’s name was Damien—what else would it have been? Damien ran straight over to him. (In case you’re missing the reference on Damien—it was the name of the antichrist person in the Omen movies.)

During those times when life is beautiful and wonderful and you’re able to stroll leisurely, don’t be too shocked when eventually you turn a corner and there is a Damien running your way. If you freak out in fear, he may do to you exactly whatever it is you’re afraid of. You may, instead, have to calmly walk with him nearby for a little while as you try to figure out where he’s from and you may have to be ready to step into battle to protect your loved ones if necessary. He may end up being nothing at all to be afraid of, but if he is a big, scary, man-eater, find the Master because he will heed the Master’s command.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me: he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

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