TITLE: Jake Learns Friendship
By Tracey Brown
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“Jake Learns Friendship”
Jake is a herding dog. He loves to chase anything that will run from him on the farm: cows, deer, turkeys, squirrels, and his personal favorite – cats. He didn’t want to hurt them. He just likes having fun, at other animals’ expense. He likes watching other animals run from him in fear.
One day a new cat showed up on the farm. No one knew where it came from, but it quickly made itself at home- lazily sleeping on Jake’s porch and eating Jake’s food. Jake’s masters, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, didn’t seem to mind the stranger, and gave him an occasional rubbing on the head.
“Why are they letting that stranger sleep on my porch and eat my food?” thought Jake. “They’re even petting it instead of me! I must do something. I know. I’ll run it up a tree. It will learn its lesson and be afraid of me.”
Jake waited for the perfect time to chase the stranger. When the cat strolled in the yard toward the garden, Jake made his move. He ran full speed up to the cat, expecting it to run. But nothing happened. Amazingly enough, the cat just sat there.
“What’s wrong with this cat? I’ll bark at it. Then it will head for the nearest tree to get away from me.”
Jake let out the biggest, most ferocious “Woof!” he could muster. Nothing happened, so he did it again, only louder. “WOOF!” The cat calmly walked over to Jake and rubbed him on the nose. This irritated Jake to no end. Why was this stranger being so nice?
“Who are you? Who let you sleep on my porch and eat my food? That is MY porch and MY food! Didn’t anybody tell you the rules? No cats allowed!” Jake insisted angrily.
“I’m sorry,” the stranger replied in a sweet, sincere voice. “I didn’t know it was yours. I was just tired and hungry from my long journey. My name is Gracie. Pleased to meet you.”
“Well, your name is Pest around here.” Jake snorted. “Where did you come from? You come here to steal our food?”
“No, nothing like that,” Gracie replied. “My owners took me on a camping trip with the family. The weather got bad and stormy, and I hid because I was afraid. When I came out, my family was gone. I looked everywhere. I finally started walking, and found this farm here. I really miss my home and my family.”
“They probably got tired of you.” Jake said, suspicion still rising in his voice. “Well, since you’re here. Let me tell you the rules. Number one, I am Jake, the boss around here. What I say goes. Got it?”
The cat looked at him puzzled. “But Jesus is my master. I have to do what he says.”
“Who is Jesus? I bet he’s run from me. There’s only room for one boss around here.” Jake replied indignantly.
“Jesus is God’s Son. He wouldn’t run from you. He loves you.”
“Loves me? What a bunch of hogwash! I haven’t even met the guy!” laughed Jake.
“But he wants to meet you. My family used to read stories about Jesus every night. He did and taught some pretty incredible stuff. It changed my life.”
“What did he do? Promise you a year’s supply of cat food?” Jake sneered.
“No, He taught me how important it is to get along with other people and to treat people the way you would want to be treated. If you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice back to you. That’s the Golden Rule.”
“The Golden Rule huh? What a wimp! The only one who will look out for me is me.”
“But what about that food you guard so closely. Don’t your owners give it to you?”
“Of course they give it to me. What a silly question. My job is to herd the cows and keep intruders away. They give me food and let me sleep on the porch so I can do my job.”
“But what about when you’re sick and you can’t herd the cows? What about then?”
“Ha! Then they really spoil me. Mrs. Brown even lets me sleep in the house by the fire and feeds me chicken soup until I get better. No better life than that of a herding dog. I don’t like the shots though. Ouch!”
“Umm, Jake I think it’s more to it than that. I think they feed you and take care of you because they love you.”
“So you do, huh,” Jake sneered again. “What do you know; you’re just a dumb cat!”
“I know I miss my family because I love them and they love me. I hope I get to see them again.” Gracie sighed and walked off.
That night, Jake thought about all the things Gracie told him. He thought about how bad it would be if he didn’t have the Browns to take care of him and a farm to run and play and sleep.
The next day, Jake saw Gracie chasing a butterfly.
“Hey Gracie, I’ve I’ve been thinking about what you said.” Jake stammered. “Can you tell me more about this Jesus guy?”
Gracie smiled. She told him the stories her family had told her that day. Later, Jake decided that Jesus and Gracie would be his friends too. And he didn’t have to be mean anymore and boss everyone around to do his job. He was a nice herding dog from then on.
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