Petal running through grass
Last weekend I learned a lesson about runaway dogs—and about using your brain instead of just your brawn.
I was babysitting a friend’s rescue dogs, two small sisters named Petal and Flower, who look like crosses between Yorkshire terriers and miniature greyhounds. Despite their diminutive size, they run like gazelles.
It was not a good time to babysit. I was hosting a large party that Saturday, but who can say no to a best friend and two adorable pooches? The dogs were in my possession for only a couple of hours before one of them got away.
The first time I took them outside, Flower slipped out of my fenced-in back yard in a flash, even though I was right there next to her. I grabbed Petal to prevent her from following. My son immediately ran around the fence and the chase began. The nearly THREE DAY CHASE.
I called my friend, but she wasn’t able to return. Forget about cleaning for the party and the food preparation, the entire family was now on lost dog duty. And so it went for days, walking around our large community, calling out her name.
Flower had a tag with a phone number, but soon we realized it wouldn’t do much good. She and Petal had been abused and abandoned by their first owners and were afraid of people. Flower was on the run, and wouldn’t let any human near her. My strategy? Search and chase, search and chase, hoping that she would eventually grow tired and be caught.
I prayed for wisdom, but none came. I was in panic mode. I did the same thing, hour after hour, even though it wasn’t working.
I brought food to tempt her. Carried her sister with me to entice her. Put signs up all over the neighborhood. Enlisted groups to help in the search. Nothing. For two nights she slept outside in an area where alligators have been seen in nearby waters. By day she eluded me in 90 degree heat. How could she survive much longer without food and water? On the second day we spotted her, running full speed down a street just a block from our home. She was alive! Despite six people combing the area, she eluded us all. It was obvious her instincts told her to run and hide from the very thing that could save her.
My last hope was that when her owners returned, she would hear their voices and come to them, but it was not to be. My friend and her family joined the search on the second night, but had to give up after dark.
After so many hours of walking from sun up to sun down, day after day, my legs were aching and blisters lined my toes. I was struggling just to walk. I was tired and dehydrated, but how could I rest, knowing a poor innocent animal could be nearing death at any moment?
Finally, on the third day, I took the time to really think. I could walk and run until I collapsed, but it would only result in the same thing. Us chasing, and her running. Finally, I used my brain instead of my brawn.
I put the dog’s crate that she shared with her sister under a tree in my front yard. Inside I placed her towel, food, and water. I leashed her sister to the crate and told all humans to stay out of the vicinity. My daughter hid nearby and kept watch. I wasn’t half-way around the block before she called me whispering, “She’s here.” Happy ending.
It reminds me that often we think persistence and sheer will power will get us to where we want to go, but not if we aren’t sensitive to signs that we should change our course. If what we do isn’t working, and we’ve given it a fair shot, maybe we need a new plan.
I’m convinced I could have caught Flower the very same day she went missing, if I had done what I did on the third day. But maybe I needed to learn a lesson.
Writers sometimes make this mistake when they start a new project. Especially the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. They come up with a new idea for a book, but don’t let it simmer. They don’t plan or analyze it long enough. They dive right in. If it’s not working, they keep hammering away at it, to no avail.
If it’s not working, do something different! Think of alternative solutions. Try something new. Persistence pays off, but make sure you are using your mind, and not only your will. No matter how bad we want something, or how hard we try, if what we’re doing isn’t working, we need new insight.
May you follow your dreams with wisdom, and may you catch them!