BAILEY’S LIGHT, OUR LESSON
We love Shih Tzu’s.
Our first was a little brindle, colored with shades of dark gray, tan and soft white chest fur. Her name was Candy. She was our constant companion for almost eighteen years, and died on Valentine’s Day in 2007 - an appropriate memorial given the size of her heart.
In Candy’s declining years, we added another little fur ball to our nest. Abby is white with soft brown spots and ears. One eye is dark brown and the other is icy blue –almost white, actually. Snapshots of her transform her mismatched eyes to red and green. Abby’s presence eased the painful loss of our Candy.
We really had not planned to take on another mouth to feed and water, but my niece called one day about a little Shih Tzu who had become a statistic from a broken home. We agreed to take “Bailey” for a week or so to see how Abby would adjust to sharing her space and affection, but once we laid eyes on Bailey, we were hooked.
Bailey did not look like a Shih Tzu the first time we saw her; she barely resembled a dog. She had been shaved almost to the skin. The only measurable hair on her body was in the form of sprigs – one over each ear, and one in front of each eye. She looked like she was peering through tall sprouts of grass. Bailey was tiny, very needy, and literally melted against the shoulder of whoever was holding her.
Bailey’s hair has grown into a fluffy coat of soft champagne with white spots. Her alert gold eyes give the illusion of a cat, an illusion supported by her behavior. She is a sassy little gal with an attitude who tries desperately to form words within her throaty growls for attention.
Evidently, Bailey has never encountered her reflection in a mirror. Until a recent event, she had no fear of, or respect for, animals that outweigh her ten-pound body many times over. Bailey loves to roam, especially to our neighbors’ five-acre yard where Jake and Laura rescue animals, and where there is an array of dogs ranging in size from about 15 pounds to 80.
Although we have added a fenced-in area to our backyard, my husband occasionally lets the dogs enjoy the front yard that has no boundaries. Abby doesn’t roam, but Bailey would take advantage of her freedom by heading straight for Jake and Laura’s animal kingdom.
One afternoon Bud and I were in the front yard with our 18-month-old grandson, Barrick. Barrick was enjoying his freedom to roam. Suddenly, I heard a commotion that jerked my head in the direction of Bailey’s favorite territory and was, for an instant, frozen in place from the sight.
A herd of dogs was racing toward our driveway where Barrick was standing, and Bailey was leading the triangular pack and SCREAMING! I didn’t know dogs could scream, but Bailey can - a high-pitched, solid tone that one would normally hear in a horror movie. The dogs were running in formation with the smaller ones lined up behind Bailey and ascending in size to the largest, much like a rack of balls on a pool table.
Although Bud could see that the dogs were chasing Bailey and completely unaware of Barrick, he responded to my shriek to “get the baby!” and picked him up. I rushed forward and scooped Bailey into my arms, and she screamed once again. I truly thought she had been mortally wounded.
Jake and Laura overpowered their brigade and returned them to their fort. Evidently, one of their smaller dogs was the culprit in stirring the other peaceful dogs into frenzy, and they obeyed the call to “get Bailey”. I think that little instigator is now on house arrest.
The only indication of physical contact on Bailey’s tremulous little body was a wet hindquarter. We gently held her and carefully poked and prodded to be sure she had not been injured. Evidently, one of the dogs had successfully pinned Bailey to the ground before the ensuing stampede.
Now Bailey sets her own boundaries and watches warily through the white rail fence that surrounds our front porch. She has seen the light.
How often do we roam into enemy territory, tempting fate in the face of obstacles much greater than our ability to overcome? Our advantage over Bailey is the indwelling Holy Spirit’s light to illumine the danger before we cross the line.
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