I am traveling and teaching at the moment with a brief stop in Michigan to visit my family. My sister Carol has four dogs. Three of them are one year old black lab puppies from the same litter. She also has an eight year old rescue dog named Lola. This morning I was dog sitting. The three puppies were outside playing in the fenced in area. It is large and quite secure. It is also the beginning of deer hunting season and I was hearing shots in the surrounding countryside. Being aware of how sensitive they were to noise I knew they would let me know if there were either deer or hunters in the area.
I heard the barking and opened the door to let them in. Skippy, responded. The other two didn’t. I wasn’t concerned initially because they love to be outside and assumed they were still “doing” their business but Skippy kept circling around me, nudging my leg as if he wanted to tell me something. So I went out to check on them. Brody ran up to me with an “urgent” look in his eyes and he was whimpering. I put him inside and checked to see if he was ok. He did the same behavior as Skippy, circling me and nudging me. So I went looking for the third pup. She was nowhere to be seen. Panic set in. How did she get out of the fenced in area? Everything looked secure but she was not there.
I went inside to get a jacket and Lola made it very clear she was going with me to find our wandering Sophie. Their home is off a busy road and the expansive back yard is surrounded with woods. There were hunters in those woods with guns. I was breathing slowly and deeply to keep the fear at bay and stay centered. I was fighting the panic and urge to start running around the yard to find her. Time was passing that could make a difference between finding her safely and losing her yet I stayed still and kept breathing. Lola was also still and standing right next to me. I looked directly into her eyes and said in a very calm voice: “go find Sophie, I’m worried and need to find her.” Lola nodded her head (I am not kidding, she did!) and started smelling the air. I waited for her to guide me.
I was thinking we should go to the right but she decided we needed to go left. I called Sophie’s name once very quietly not wanting her to think she was in trouble. No Sophie. Then Lola took off- running towards the woods. Knowing I couldn’t keep up with her I just stood there breathing and asking God to bring little Sophie back safely. The deer and the hunters were in the woods. Now I had two dogs possibly in danger. I was not being a very responsible doggie aunt. I could have gone ballistic at that moment. It would have been an easy choice. But I made a different one. I decided to trust Lola. She had been the adopted mom to these three babies. They adore her and she disciplines them consistently. If there was a way to find Sophie I trusted Lola to do it. I visualized them running towards the house together. Two girls out for a romp! Any minute now Lola would bring Sophie back home. I surrendered. I stayed completely still, breathing and trusting Lola.
Time moves very slowly when I’m afraid. I had fleeting moments of feeling guilty. I kept looking towards the woods. I heard a shot. My heart began to race. I kept breathing and seeing them safe. Within minutes Lola was herding Sophie up the hill, not allowing her to retreat. I hugged Sophie and put on her leash. I hugged Lola and she looked at me as if to say:”thanks for letting me do my job. I’m really good at herding my stray babies!” Sophie’s brothers surrounded her with love and kisses when we came inside the house. I imagine their telepathic communication :”How was it? Did you see any of those big dogs (deer) out there? Did you hear those loud sounds? Did you have some good smells? Show me how to get out so I can go with you next time…” Sophie was oblivious to the drama she had created.
I thanked Skippy for nudging me to check on his sibs when I let him in. I thanked Brody for alerting me to the escape and appreciated him for not following her out! Lola took her spot on the couch and looked at the three pups with wise eyes as to say:”you can run but you can’t hide!”
I love animals. They are wise with beautiful souls. They are capable of all the feelings we have. These doggies showed me how a true family works. They watch out for each other. When some member is in trouble they go into action. They make it through the drama without judgment or holding on and then relax once again. They teach me balance. I am listening… Thanks for the lesson puppies and thank you Lola for being such a loving and wise mama. Ardis
That is so beautiful Ardis. Thankyou for sharing. Love & hugs, Robyn
Great management of the fight/flight response for you and the puppies. Love the stories you are sharing.