Sometimes he snores.
He was incredibly hard to housebreak.
During the two years he’s been with us, he has chewed up almost an entire herd of My Little Pony Figurines.
He is known for getting loose. When he does, he’s gone for a couple of hours, trailing after some delicious scent and chasing every creature that crosses his path. He does this because it is what he was born to do. He is a hunting dog, a Redbone Hound, and we love him.
His name is Copper, but our little girls have given him more nick names than any other pet we’ve ever owned. Copper-Doodle-Do, Crinkleton Wrinklesworth, The Chewinator, Donut Boy, (not because he eats them, but because he curls up perfectly round and his fur has the sheen of a glazed donut), to name a few. He has learned to answer to most of the nick names, except when he’s gotten away. Then, the only voice he listens to is the inner one which tells him to run free.
He came to us, or rather, we came to him, in January, 2014.
Temperatures were consistently below freezing that year. We had snow on the ground, and more was coming. I called my friend.
“If we can get to your place tomorrow, how about we let the kids go sledding and I’ll bring over a crock pot of soup?”
“Sounds good,” she said. “Sorry I missed your call the first time. I was outside trying to get a stray into the dog pen for shelter. He is really thin.”
In January, stray hunting dogs are very common in this part of the country. Either lost or released on purpose, they wander around, trying to survive.
He was still there when we came over the next day. I have seen many strays before, but none as pitiful. He was so emaciated you could see every vertebrae in his spine. The condition of his coat was distressing.
Both of his sides were covered with a thick black substance that appeared to be paint or dye. It had obviously irritated his skin, because patches of fur had fallen out and the exposed skin was red and raw.
We later learned that some hunters use hair dye to mark the sides of their dogs with an identifying letter and/or number. Apparently, this dog’s owner did not want him to be returned, so hair dye was used to cover up his identification.
After the kids were finished sledding, we settled down inside for laughter and hot soup. When the dishes were cleared away, we gathered in the living room. Two windows faced the front porch. By the light near the front door, I could see the dog through the window. Apparently, he could see me, too. When I moved to the other window, so did he. His eyes, big and brown in his thin face, locked onto mine. There was something unmistakably sweet in those eyes. In spite of his miserable condition, they were innocent, accepting: no bitterness toward the world, no anger at a master who did him wrong, no self-pity.
I couldn’t turn away. My friend’s husband could see the writing on the wall even before I did. “I’m sorry, Brian,” he said to my husband, who just smiled at him and shook his head.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I said. “We don’t need another dog.”
When it was time to go, the dog greeted us at the door. The kids were full of questions, wanting to know what would happen to him. I was silent; torn between practicality and what I really wanted to do. We got in the truck and backed slowly down the long drive. At the end, my husband looked at me. I looked at him.
“It’s OK with me if you are like your daddy,” he said. My daddy had a long history of rescuing strays, four legged and two legged.
That’s all it took. I jumped out of the truck. The dog was sitting at the other end of the drive, watching me. I whistled. He took off as if that was what he’d been waiting for. Whatever reserve of energy he had left, he used it, running to me. Brian scooped him up and put him in the back. The little girls were beside themselves with joy.
We brought him home, dressed him in an old fleece pullover, gave him food and water, kept him in the shop until we could get him cleaned up and checked out by the vet.
Upon closer inspection, we saw multiple wounds on his paws and ears, marks of a tangle with other hunting dogs or coyotes. Severely dehydrated and malnourished, he probably wouldn’t have lasted another night with temperatures in the single digits. But, grace found him, mercy saved him, love looked beyond the ragged and worn exterior and saw value that the world did not.
It took months to nurse him back to health. The dyed fur eventually all fell out. New fur grew, except in one place on his side where the irritation went beyond skin deep. The wounds on his ears healed, although jagged edges still remain, reminders of a story we will never know.
He is now fit and strong. His silky fur gleams like a new copper penny in the sun. His character holds true to the story his eyes told me that night in January. He is loving, easy-going and peaceful, grateful for his redemption.
There are people in our world who have been thrown out, mistreated and abandoned. Sometimes, this shows on the outside. Sometimes, it does not, because the wounds are on the inside.
Ask God to put someone in your path who needs a new story. Maybe they need a listening ear, a kind word, a friend. Maybe they have practical needs, that, once met, will lead to the fulfillment of spiritual needs. Maybe they need a Redemption Story and a Soul Savior.
if you are a Believer, then Jesus lives in you. He is real, not just a name printed on the thin pages of a book. He is: your hands, your smile, your love, your compassion, your resources, your energy.
He provides. You deliver.
” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”