For any of you who read my blog you know that my life is one crazy adventure. Or so it seems to be in my perspective. I fall off dams, run into bears, find myself rescuing people when there is no phone booth around. And I marvel at all of these experiences because I have no doubt that there are things that God wants me to learn from each and every one. Most of the lessons seem to be about trust and staying calm when facing fear. Other lessons are about finding the humor in circumstances and not taking myself so seriously. Many times the lessons come from observing the character of those around me and how it plays a huge role in my understanding of people and human nature. This is one of those stories.
When I was 6 years old my family lived in Dodge City, Kansas. My grandparents lived in Copeland, which was not far away. It was a small, dusty town and as I have mentioned before, a very boring place, unless of course you have had the opportunity to hear my father describe the colorful characters that lived there and that would be as exciting as it gets.
The summer when I was about 6, my parents, brother and I had driven to Copeland for a weekend visit to my grandparents. As was typical when we had been there for a short time, we young ones were bored and had decided to head out and find the neighbor kids next door. They had a dog that seemed to be part German Shepherd and something else because he was off white in color. This dog often played with us when we went to visit and I remember we enjoyed him very much.
On this particular day, we were running and laughing, children and dog, when all of the sudden, the dog came up behind me and knocked me down. I turned over and he was on me bearing his teeth and growling. The other kids stopped and froze in their tracks. I don’t know if I or someone else screamed or what happened except that the neighbor kids mother ran out of her house and my mother ran out of my grandparents. Mom had just gotten out of the hospital and at about 5’3 in height and weighing less than 100 lbs. after her illness, she was small and frail. I still remember my little mother in her navy blue dress heading quickly into the yard to protect her child. The other mother stood at the side saying “oh dear, oh dear” and my mother was ready to do whatever it took. Something she did caused the dog to turn from me and lunge at her. With his paws on her chest, he began to try to bite her in the throat. She still had marks in her arms from the I.V.’s after her hospital stay and she was trying to keep the dog from biting her as she screamed for my dad to help. The rest of us stood by helplessly as we watched this scene unfold.
My father was no massive man but he was no wimp either. He ran to the door, assessing the situation and raced into the yard himself. Meanwhile my grandfather had seen enough to know that the shotgun was needed and went to retrieve it. My grandmother waited in the door watching and if I know her, praying as well. The rest of us stood like frozen statues to see what dad would do. How is this going to end?
Dad came up behind the dog who was still lunging at my mother and growling. He placed his arm around the dogs neck and put him in a head lock and began choking him. The dog suddenly snapped out of his rage and began licking my dad’s hand. He then went from being totally mad to being the sweet gentle dog we had always played with. Grandpa came with the gun and we all stood there. What to do? The sheriff was called and the dog was taken away. We heard later that the dog was given to a man in the area and his child was attacked and almost killed by it. Grandpa always regretted not shooting the dog because something was obviously very wrong with it.
Looking back I could see that my mother loved me enough to give her life for mine if necessary. I could identify with that motherly instinct when I myself became the mother of five children. There is nothing you wouldn’t do to keep your little ones safe. My dad as well displayed the example of loving strength, doing whatever it took to protect his family no matter what the cost to him might be.
Some of these situations end very badly and I am thankful that this one wasn’t one of them. I am pretty sure that night when I was tucked in to bed, there were some special prayers of thanks given from some very grateful parents.