The sun was setting and the temperature was dropping. It would be the last hard freeze of the winter. We were getting the house ready, faucets dripping so the pipes would not freeze and firewood gathered for the night. We were standing in the kitchen when I saw something out of the corner of my eye moving outside. I looked out the window to see two stray dogs in the yard. One was a black and tan coon dog and the other looked to be a lab mix. They both came close to the house and rested for a while. We didn’t want our dogs to frighten the two vagrants away so we put them in the other room to keep them from going nuts and barking at the sliding glass door.
The coon dog was now laying on the cold ground, shivering. She was lame and in pain, as if she might have been hit by a car. The lab mix walked away several feet and came back to his companion. He then walked away a little farther and came back again. This happened several times until he finally walked out of sight, leaving his friend behind. Now what? We had to do something for the one left behind and we needed to move fast as the night would be bitter cold. The Missus put some food in a bowl and filled a water dish while I went outside to fashion a makeshift shelter out of an open-ended plastic barrel. The wounded pup would not go into the shelter so I put the food in it and went back into the house, thinking that my presence might be upsetting her. She laid down on the ground in front of the shelter. This wasn’t working.
The Missus took off in her car to canvas the area to see if someone might be missing a dog. By then, the sun had set and it was getting colder. The poor thing would not go into the shelter and I couldn’t leave her outside. She might not survive. At the time, we had a ramp leading to a doggy door which led into the master bathroom. I closed the door to the bathroom, poked my head outside the doggy door and called to the shivering critter. She eventually hobbled over to the ramp but would not go up it so I crawled out the doggy door and met her outside. I lifted her onto the ramp, gently pushed her into the doggy door and followed behind her so that she couldn’t turn around and leave. Now what am I going to do?
I got a blanket, some food and water and plugged in an electric heater. I was beginning to get concerned because the Missus had not returned. I didn’t know where she was and all sorts of frightening scenarios were racing through my head. What if she had gotten hurt, what if she had knocked on the wrong door, that sort of thing. We worry about those we love. After quite some time had passed, she drove in and I went out to meet her, allowing our dogs to come with me. They barked and bounced excitedly because Mom was home. When she got out of the car, she was in a panic. “These guys shouldn’t be outside with that other dog out back! Where is the other dog?”
I replied, “Well, you see…” and my eyes got puddly and I choked up.
“What happened?” she asked with a look of concern.
“Well, it was getting dark and it was cold…”
“And…where is she?”
“She’s in the master bathroom.” I broke down. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
The Missus gave me a long, loving hug and softly said, “You did the right thing.”
The dog was so badly hurt that we were seriously concerned that the she might not make it through the night. Long story short, she had been beaten so severely that she had suffered brain damage and damage to her back and hips. Her ears had been bitten through and had the appearance of being used as a bait dog. We named her Jazz and gave her a forever home. A few years later, we lost our sweet little girl to cancer.
There is no doubt in our minds that the other dog was an angel who brought her to the house knowing that we would take care of her. You could see the love as the other dog walked away and then came back and walked further and came back and when he was sure that Jazz would not follow, he left and we have never seen him since.
There is a lot of need in this world. Sometimes we see the need and step in to help and other times we turn our heads and hearts and try to convince ourselves that someone else will take care of it. There are special times when God brings the need directly to our doorstep because that need is great and He doesn’t have time to wait on others. He knows we will help. We could close the blinds or we could provide a make-shift shelter, some food and water and call it a night, believing that we have done our best but we haven’t done our best, not by a long shot. Our best requires the extra mile or two or ten or even a hundred if we are able. Our best is doing whatever is necessary and when we reach our limit, God extends the limit and makes up the difference.
Proverbs 12:10 (ESV)
Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
It’s more than about caring for the critters, it’s also about caring for people in need, especially people. They are all around us. Some are lost and homeless, some might appear to be happy but they are lost and afraid.
The night is dark and cold. Look out your window and see the one in need that God has brought your way. If necessary, crawl out the doggy door, push them inside and make a difference.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
We miss you, our sweet little Jazzy Doodle.