Many of you told me you enjoyed the previous post on this topic. Now when I say “many”, I’m aware that there’s about 3 of you, so any two would actually represent a sweeping majority more clear than our last four Presidential elections…
But I digress.
I’m still finding myself taught by my dog ownership. Seeing God’s view of me through new eyes. Sometimes I realize just how boneheaded I am by watching my great dog make a decision based on her limited knowledge and freedoms. I make all kinds of decisions based on my own understanding, and how God must shake his head like I do at Sierra. But that’s the thing about freedom, you can choose something terrible.
Which brings me to last week. Sierra and I are out for a walk in the neighborhood and I’m allowing her all the freedoms she has slowly earned. Namely, that she gets to walk with me while off leash. And she’s learned that she can’t cross the curb unless I’m standing beside her and say it’s okay.
But she did. I think she saw a cat, which causes a block in her brain of all other stimuli. Her little world gets summed up in two words: Chase. Cat.
Off the curb. Into the street. Right into the path of an Audi A4.
She got nailed. Hit square in the side by the car. And I got to watch.
Ever since I’ve been besieged by the not so beneficial side of my crisp visual memory. Because I’ve got a pristine screening of the accident playing on a loop in the back of my skull. And I never know when some other thought or action will ruffle the curtains and give me a clear replay of the horror.
She skidded across the pavement. Pin-wheeling as the concrete tore into her legs. Exhaling with a whimper-whine so terrible I truly can’t describe or mimic the sound.
It wasn’t like seeing someone punched or kicked. It was more like what happens when a tiny fleshy man gets blown off his feet by heavy artillery. There’s something extra horrifying about watching flesh and blood get blasted by a mechanical force many times its size.
I was sprinting before she even stopped. My voice in an octave of breathless terror so high I didn’t recognize myself. I thought she was dead.
I reached her as she lay on her side, rainwater running over her in the gutter. Her eyes open and a stunned look on her face. I began to check everything I could imagine to determine what the next few moments might mean. She quickly showed herself to be more shocked than mortally wounded. It took real effort to stay calm.
The next hour was a whirlwind of blood-loss, searching for an animal ER, and undue stress on my very pregnant wife. When I carried my injured pup back into our home hours later I looked like a war victim, covered in blood and exhausted.
Miraculously, nothing was broken. This Audi hit my brick-built dog right in the rib cage and she came away with only a bruised lung and a lot of road rash. The rare LA rain actually helped her horrific slide and though she’s nursing lots of abrasions, she can walk, and will heal normally.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Because I’ve thought the same thing.
Why on earth did I have her off-leash?
Quite simply, because she’s earned it. Over time she’s proven herself and I’ve granted her more freedom. Yet you’re saying “But she’s just a dog, she doesn’t really understand”.
And that’s when the lesson hits me full-force: I’m just a human. I don’t really understand.
My Almighty Father (the divine pack-leader if you prefer to stay in the dog world) hasn’t just given me a lot of leash. He burned the leash. I’m wandering down the sidewalk of my life under his watchful eye, but unrestricted.
If I decide to dart off into something that will harm me… He’ll endeavor to pick up the pieces. And I can’t imagine how much that hurts him. How much it replays in his head.
But that’s the true cost of Free-Will. I have the ability to play in traffic. And one day I might get hit. So here I am looking around at the decisions before me and wondering how to best utilize my freedom.
When Sierra gets concerned she comes over to me and touches her nose to my calf. It’s her way of checking she’s on the right path and seeing if the thing that just spooked her concerns me as well. I smile down and say “It’s okay, pup…” And she returns to her typical cadence of strolling along knowing all is right in her world. It always makes me smile, and she did it just yesterday which somehow told me she’s really going to be okay.
Maybe she even learned something.
I’d like to nuzzle God’s leg about now. Get him to tell me I’m doing okay. Cause it seems like all the decisions I could make involve a gauntlet through speeding traffic. And I’m not feeling free as much as running around off-leash.