Sunday mornings are pretty typical. We have our routine: Get up. Get dressed. Get out the door. Get to church on time. The service starts at 8:30. This Sunday was no exception and the drive to church was thoughtful and quiet, filled with the silence created by a very sleepy teenager sitting next to me. Moments before I was to turn off the busy road onto the side street that is home to our chapel, a small white blur darted into the road in front of my car. Slowing to a crawl I followed behind the four-legged escapee as she ran down the middle of the road toward more cars and certain danger.
I exited the main road as planned, but my conscience immediately pulled me over and I parked the car with hazards blinking, rousing my daughter from her temporary slumber. Hitching up my long skirt (and grateful I’d worn flats) I started jogging in the path of the small white dog and in front of me a trail of cars piled up behind the lead car. As the dog left the road to pursue a grassier running turf I watched closely, willing my two legs to run a little bit faster.
Running through strangers’ yards dressed in church attire at 8:20 on a Sunday morning was one thing. How to catch said runaway dog if I ever met up with her? No clue. We finally cornered her underneath a parked boat in the back of someone’s driveway and I left my daughter to guard our prey while I jogged back toward the intersection where we first saw the dog.
Hoping one of the nearby homeowners was missing their pet, I knocked on numerous doors and spoke with many kind neighbors, but none who knew anything about our little escapee. Recognizing the daunting (and illogical) task of going door-to-door, I turned around and jogged back to where I’d left my daughter and the dog. And that’s when I met Bob.
Bob owns the home and the boat underneath which the dog was hiding. He and my daughter were still in the process of trying to coax the scared puppy out from her hiding spot. When she finally made a run for it, she was too quick for us to grab and she found refuge underneath the stairs leading to Bob’s back porch.
Questions of what to do next had to be answered and my phone calls started. Animal Control is closed on Sunday. The Animal Shelter doesn’t open until noon. I was left with only one option: Michele. She arrived within twenty minutes like the Mary Poppins (only played by Meryl Streep) of the dog world with her bag of tricks and supplies and every time she reached in for something else I marveled at her foresight: treats, fresh water, a bowl for the water, food, a leash, and probably toys, too, but who knows what else!
With some effort and a pair of gloves, Bob crawled under his steps and retrieved the terrified pooch, whose identifying tags had broken from her collar, but was otherwise unscathed. Visibly shaking, she allowed Bob to comfort her while we discussed our options.
Bidding a fond farewell to the noble and brave Bob, Michele and I packed up the pooch and drove to the nearest emergency vet for a chip scan, certain she would have one and our day’s efforts would end in a happy phone call to her frantic owner. No such luck. Sadly, we learned that 70% of dog and cat owners do not chip their pets! (Come on people.)
Again, our course of action was uncertain but ultimately the decision was made to turn our new furry friend over to the care of the Animal Shelter, where her owners were most likely to look for her. Doing the responsible thing isn’t always the easiest thing, and our anxious vigil began. Michele visited the shelter daily to check on her and to be sure her own name was listed first for adoption in the sad event no owner arrived.
Six days into her Shelter Occupation, the runaway’s owner came for her and Michele’s voice message to me gushed with gratitude as she shared the wonderful news. Looking back over the course of events that Sunday morning, I know I haven’t always been that person who would have stopped, but I’m grateful I did, certain that precious pooch would have been hurt (or worse) had we not chased her down, worn her out, and gotten her to a safer place.
Given my options at 8:20am – either continue the search and rescue effort, uncertain as to how it would end, or cease and desist and get to church on time, I remember Matthew 25:40 states, “. . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . . ye have done it unto me,” and I know we were exactly where we were supposed to be.