Of Mutts and Mountains

We left our pup behind today.  Intentionally.  Let me explain…We’re up in the mountains escaping the heat of Texas for a week.  Yes, we brought Isobel Joy (Izzy), our infamous Aussie/Border mix with us.  (We love our friends too much to ask any of them to endure her dogsit for Nine Long Days!)  We are camped in an idyllic spot beside a mountain stream.  There are beautiful trees arched overhead, and breathtaking views of the mountains in every direction.

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Today was rafting day.  And grocery day.  The menfolk, along with their Uncle, Aunt, and cousins, pre-arranged a glorious splashy treat.  And I chose the calm and predictability of the grocery store instead.  And this left no course of entertainment for the dog.  So we spread out her favorite blanket, left her a clean water dish, and with that glorious shady canopy above her, and the mountains all around.  Oh, and the chain, yes, we left her chain too—she was attached to it.  Unwillingly.

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Izzy’s journey into my heart has been a long and torturous one.

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She was the replacement puppy added to our family in an attempt to quench the grief and guilt of our previous beloved dog’s tragic death.  Adjusting to life with a fearful, neurotic, intestinally challenged, control-obsessed, profusely shedding dog has not been easy.  But we’ve been together for almost three years now, and she has finally wormed her way into my heart.  But back to today’s story…

We drove off together, the rafting entourage slathered in sunscreen, and I with my list.  And the dog began to whine pitifully.  The poor creature’s eyes were filled with fear.  She was being left alone.  Not understanding why or when we would return.

We drove together to the rafting shack, eagerness exuding from the menfolk like sweat on a hot Texas day.  They jumped from the truck, fearing they would be late, and not wanting to miss a moment of action and high adventure.  And I headed out to search for groceries.  I’d planned to look for a fruit stand, maybe a cute little antique shop to browse.  It was precious alone time after 3 long days of travel and forced togetherness in the cab of a truck.  But as I turned the wheel to backtrack, I was reminded of the scene we had left:  The forlorn look, the piteous whine.

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I drove along, glancing around me for an attractive shop or two.  And I couldn’t bring myself to stop.  I even passed up a thrift store (!!!!!)  My mind was racing with how Izzy was dealing with her temporary abandonment.  Was she enjoying the cool, mountain breezes, the fresh smells, the rushing stream nearby?  No, I knew her too well.  She would, at best, be trembling with fear on her blanket.  At worst, she would have broken from her chain and be caught by the wheels of a car as she dashed down the highway frantically looking for us.  She had no way of knowing that we would return.  She had very little familiarity about her.  She’s just a dog.  An irritatingly smart one, but still a dog.  I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the day and dawdle back to camp.  Her sad eyes beaconed me back.  I grabbed the needed groceries and dashed to camp.

And this thought struck me:  Isn’t this just like God’s father-heart attitude towards me?  Isaiah 49: 15 – 16 “…I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”  Just as I couldn’t not draw myself away from pity for a dumb dog, my Heavenly Father is drawn to me.  Enough so that he has ENGRAVED me on the palms of his hands.  Oh, the pain that engraving caused.  He thinks of me!  All the time!  It’s not like he’s just written my name on his hand like I scribble “milk, eggs, carrots” on my hand with a pen.  That list will wash off with soap and water.  He hasn’t even tattooed it. Engraved.  It hurt, and it’s there to stay.

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