I have made some bad decisions in my life. Some have been long and thought out but wrong decisions. Others have been spur-of-the-moment, sounds-like-fun but stupid decisions. (Example – Waking up on a Friday morning and deciding to get my nose pierced with Brie. Calling in sick to our waitressing jobs and driving to the beach for a girl’s weekend getaway. Fun and memorable, but stupid.) The decision I made last Saturday took absolutely no thought whatsoever and just seemed natural. I made the wrong decision.
Chase and I were arranging flowers in our garage for a wedding I had on the following day. Scottie, the only child we will ever have, was whining to come out and join us in the garage. Without giving it any thought, I decided to open the door and allow him to sit and watch us cut and arrange buckets of flowers. You may think, “Well that doesn’t sound stupid at all.” I allowed this to happen without a leash. That was stupid.
Scottie has tried to teach us time and time again that he can’t be trusted outside without a leash. We could let him out 100 times in a roll without any problems but on the 101th time, you better believe he’s going to run. But on this night, he just sat there and stared into the distance. Little did I know, he was planning his escape.
After about an hour, opportunity in the form of a stray cat presented itself and Scottie made one of those decisions that sounds-like-fun but is stupid. He darted off chasing after the cat, over the fields and through the woods. Despite Chase’s efforts on foot and my efforts by car, Scottie disappeared into the forest without a trace. With the help of Chase’s dad Michael and step-mom Jennifer, we scoured the woods for hours upon hours, yelling every enticing thing we could think of that would make Scottie stop and re-think his decision. “Scottie.” “Here Boy.” “Thousands of treats await you.” “We’ll reverse the neutering operation.” Nothing worked. At midnight, we decided it was time to call it quits for the night and re-start the search in the morning.
Throughout the search in the woods, I kept my composure. Perhaps it was because I was in shock, or maybe because I wanted to appear strong, but the moment the shower water touched my face, my own waterworks started and didn’t stop. That night, we left the garage door open, lights on and ears tuned for Scottie’s triumphant return. I didn’t sleep. I laid there while my mind ran wild with the million different scenarios of what had happened to Scottie. I sat straight up in the bed each time the neighbor’s wind chime rang hoping it was Scottie’s collar. I became angry with myself for letting him out without a leash and even more so for cancelling our home phone service the week before, which was the number listed on his collar. It seemed hopeless.
When the sun rose, we started searching again. As Michael and Chase searched on bicycles, Jennifer and I went ahead and placed “Lost Dog” signs around Youngsville. As I sat at my computer and designed a flyer stating my dog was indeed lost, I couldn’t help but think about the torture families of lost children and loved ones must go through. How do they move on with life and live with the unknown? I had hoped we would find Scottie alive and happy but if not, I at least wanted to find his body. It would have been ten times harder to live with the uncertainty of never knowing where he was or what had happened than to find him deceased.
Time was not a friend to me as I had a wedding to coordinate and had to leave the search efforts to go do my job. Chase accompanied me to the wedding to assist where needed and we waited. I’ll never forget the look on Chase’s face as he answered the phone and happily nodded to me that it was the call we had waited for all day. Scottie was safe, alive and a bit dirty. It didn’t matter to me that the venue’s mailbox had broken in half, fallen on and dented my car – or that my battery was dead following the wedding. Those things were fixable. Losing Scottie would have been irreplaceable.
We picked up Scottie late Sunday night. He told me he was sorry by the look in his eyes. Apparently he had the time of his life running and chasing deer throughout the night. That was until he stopped to re-think his spur-of-the-moment, sounds-like-fun decision. Once he realized he was lost, cold and far away from home, he pawed at the door of two good Samaritans. They let him sleep inside and took care of him for the night.
I don’t feel as those I’ve done anything to deserve the blessing I received that Sunday night. It really made me stop and think about how sweet the grace of God is. He had every right to punish me and make me lay in the bed I had made. But He doesn’t punish. Instead, He showers us with rewards and makes His mercies new every morning. Sometimes I barely notice His grace and other days I even choose to ignore it. But this time, God’s grace was revealed to me in the form of my white and furry friend coming home.