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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)

TITLE: The Fox In Our Midst
By Cherry Bieber


For two days, every time we let our dog out she would bark nonstop. I kept looking to see what she was seeing, but could not find the source of her obvious anxiety. Because she is not a dog that barks to hear the sound of her own voice, I am always on the alert when she does bark and my God-given “search engine” goes into high gear.

This morning while we were having breakfast, my son saw our yearling heifer, Honey, running and laughing stated, “That goofy Honey is out their running!” I, however, did not laugh; as I immediately knew something was wrong. Although calves and yearlings will occasionally run for the fun of it, expectant heifers do not just burst into “for the fun of it” running routines. I went to the window and, sure enough, not 200 feet from our barn, Honey had come to a halt and was staring directly at two foxes playing in the field…oops…make that one fox and one favorite cat (Herbie)…and they were definitely NOT playing! Herbie is not quite a year old and is rather large for his age. His youth, feline nature, and size tend to make him think he is ten foot long and bullet proof! Because he is such a large cat, has a dark orange coat, and his tail was fanned out much larger than I ever thought his short hair could manage, I first mistook him for a fox! He was hunched down facing the fox prepared for a fight.

Just as the realization of the danger Herbie was in struck me, the heifer ran right between the two and stopped. The fox took a step toward the cat and the heifer lunged toward the fox. At that point, I was out on the porch ready to take care of business when the fox bolted toward the neighbor’s pasture. I called Herbie and he ran toward me with more speed and obedience than that which is common to felines! When he reached me, he leapt into my arms, his entire body trembling, and his tail remained [comically] fanned for a good five minutes. (I’m sure he is now devastatingly embarrassed as he realizes the spectacle he made of himself.)

This incident has had me thinking all morning about other “foxes” in our midst and those who, due to youth, think they are as sly as those “foxes.” Fortunately for Herbie, because of where we live and my desire to protect my chickens, ducks, and cats, I have learned to watch carefully for foxes and always investigate the “red flags.”

Sadly, there are too many parents paying no attention whatsoever to the “red flags” indicating that there are foxes “playing” with their children and the children have not the maturity nor wherewithal to understand the dangers that await them. The God-given parental “search engine” that alerts a parent to check a situation out, is all to often ignored. Parents sometimes succumb to peer pressure from other adults who contend that not allowing children “freedom” is to be overprotective and will damage children for life. Now, I’m not talking about hovering here. I’m talking about setting healthy boundaries and changing them according to the “fruit” of the child’s life. It is important to make boundary decisions based on one’s own child rather than what someone else is doing with their child. Parents of more than one child can attest to the fact that each child they have must be assessed separately when deciding boundaries, as every child’s needs are different. We should not raise our children as if they were popped out of a cookie cutter. When seeking counsel on raising children, it is prudent to first consider the outcome of the children belonging to those whose counsel we would seek and then determine whether or not another’s suggestions would be applicable to our own children.

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This article has been read 330 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/21/11
This is an interesting story with a good message. Below is the sheet the judges use to rate with my opinions and scores.

Topic: 1.5 although you used the words search engine several times it really wasn't about a computer search engine. If a topic stumps you check out the message boards under The Writing Challenge for clarification.

Creativity: 3.2 I liked how you tried a fresh take on the topic. I can definitely tell you think outside the box.

Craft: 3.0 You had a few errors. In the following sentence: my son saw our yearling heifer, Honey, running and laughing stated,
It sounds like the cow was running. You also used their instead of there. I also saw some places that could use a comma. Many of your sentences were great and interesting to read.

Start: 3.2 You drew me in with the barking dog. I could relate to that. When my dog barks at night I wonder what he is seeing that I can't.

End 2.9 The ending felt different from the first part of the story. I felt like you jumped from a charming story to explaining the purpose of your story.

Flow: 2.9 Again I felt the ending was almost a separate story. I think the reader would have gotten your message without the explanation. You did a great job in the first part of the story. I felt like I could hear you telling the story and it seemed very natural.

Communication 3.5 I really like your message and I think it is one theworld needs to hear.

Publishable: 3.5 If you added a Bible verse and a prayer this would be a great devotion that would really leave me thinking about your message.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/21/11
Oops Under Craft: I meant to say it sounded like the cow was running and laughing. (I knew what you meant, just the phrasing was awkward:)
Leola Ogle 10/21/11
Good reminder to all parents. God bless!
Patricia Protzman10/22/11
The entry was off topic with some grammar errors but otherwise a creative story.
Linda Goergen10/22/11
I was glued to this story from the beginning of the dog barking, until the end. It was written with so much vivid detail, I felt like I was watching it all!
I did however think in your warning at the end about parents seeing the red flags and being aware, you were going to talk about the dangers of what children can find on the internet with just one wrong word placed in a search engine. That would have made it right on topic. I felt it was inferred but probably would have been better for topic if mentioned.
But that aside, I felt this to be a well written and powerful piece, containing so much wisdom and truth within and I thoroughly enjoyed the read!
Noel Mitaxa 10/24/11
I also think you may have slipped off-topic by use of allegory, but I also think your truth is still powerfully expressed.
Edmond Ng 10/25/11
Prudent advice! A nicely written piece and an interesting read, with a very important message.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/11
Congratulations for ranking 10th in level 3!