Off Leash

We have two dogs. Ezra, our oversized lug who thinks he’s a lap dog, came to us about nine months ago. He had been spending a lot of his days crated and was too big for the one bedroom apartment where he lived with his owner. City dog and house dog became farm dog. He has adapted well to his space though he is beside himself with joy when he can come into the house and lay on the mat inside the front door.

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At Christmas time, Fred and I decided to surprise our family with a puppy. We also thought another dog would be company for Ezra. Fred picked her up on Boxing Day morning from the farmer and Emmy Lou became part of our farm and family.

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Ezra and Emmy Lou do keep each other company. They romp and play, try to take each other’s bone or stick, and curl up together on their cushion to sleep.

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One evening last week Fred came in from the barn after feeding the cattle and wondered if I had seen Emmy Lou. I went out to search the sheds and the barn. She was nowhere to be found. Throughout the night I kept waking up hoping and praying she hadn’t wandered off or been hurt somewhere.

When it was light the next morning, we went out to search for her again. Ezra and I walked back to our sugar bush where we had been working the day before, the dogs with us having a great time in the freedom of the forest. We skirted the perimeter of the bush and I called and listened but to no avail. Back at the house, I called the neighbours but they had not seen her.

I was almost losing hope when Fred came in and said that he had found her and she was alive and would be ok. She had gotten into the cattle pen and was huddled along the south wall surrounded by cattle. For a few days after she didn’t bark, nursed her sore leg, and laid very low, but soon was back to herself.

As I hunted and hoped to find her, I thought about the story of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s putting aside everything to find her. I knew Emmy Lou was lost and that she couldn’t come to me when I called because something had happened. Even if she had wandered off, I knew it was the puppy in her that would make her do so. I knew she really wanted to be at home.

Could this be the way of the Shepherd with me? If I’m not in the fold at nightfall, does the Shepherd know that that is where I would really like to be even if I have wandered off? Is that why there is a relentless search for my lost self even when I’m muddling through the mundaneness of the everyday? Does the Shepherd search too with a knotted belly because the Shepherd misses me?

A few days later, Ezra started barking at a young man as he was biking past our place. I went out to settle Ezra and call him in, but he looked at me then turned and ran towards the biker. I called and called him but he ignored me and went into his animal instinct of chase. The kid on the bike turned and peddled for all he was worth in the other direction and Ezra was all the more enticed. My sharp, piercing whistle brought him up short and he turned and headed back towards me. I had no opportunity to make sure the young guy was ok after what would have been a very frightening moment because I was trying to get hold of Ezra’s collar. He avoided me and went towards the house. I was not impressed and was very cross with him. At the house, he settled right down, and I took him by his collar and led him to the barn where I took his big head in my hands and gave him a very stern reprimand. He stayed penned in the barn for the rest of the day, and I kept him tied up the next day.

Could this dog incident too be a glimpse into the way of me and a God who pursues? When I let my selfish instincts take control of me and could harm myself or others, does God call and call for me to come back? Does God want to see me free to explore but then wonder how to keep me and others safe in my freedom? Does God reluctantly ever clip on my leash?

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Published by Judy

On the edge of Waterloo county resting sedately on knoll, is an old stone house looking out towards the Grand River. This stone house and farm has been in my husband's family for years. We have been graced to call this place home for the last thirty years. Our best crop has been our four children. After years of immersing myself in raising and educating our family, the proverbial nest has slowing been emptying, opening up space for me to fill with other pursuits. Both writing and photography have been knit into my everyday living since I was very young. Sharing them is both a bit of a dream and a bit of a nightmare. But living small and in fear shrivels up a life. My thoughts are musings on God, aging, family, and simply living. My shelves are lined with books, my baskets are brimming with skeins of yarn, my closet shelves are stacked with apparel, my cellar shelves are chock full of home canning - all testaments to my inclinations. Our journeys are not solitary affairs. As I share bits of my journey with you, I hope you will be enticed to look more closely, listen more attentively, and live with abandon. May God's peace rest on your journey. Judy

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