There are big things in life that give us pause—and tempt us with worry. Things like illness, job struggles, and conflicts. They call us to a deeper and higher faith.
Then there are other things that are small, and stupid, and annoying, and seemingly insignificant in the face of life and love. Often, it’s those things that try to steal my joy and pulverize my peace. A verse in Song of Songs 2:15 describes this type of annoyance: Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
And, if these foxes aren’t caught they can put a choke-hold on our spiritual growth.
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. Luke 8:14
For me, this fox recently took the form of an eighteen pound ball of fluff—my thirteen-year-old cockerpoo.
Until recently I had a love-hate relationship with him. You see—about a year ago, after his dog cousin came for a visit, he felt obligated to claim every space where his dog cousin had ever set his paw. Yes, this became a terrible daily ritual. It began in the yard…where every blade of grass and rock or pebble seemingly called out to him for ownership. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
I would hold my breath each time I walked through my front door, wondering what claimed treasures awaited me. I would then cautiously peer at all of the usual suspects—the front left wooden leg of my new chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair. (He was at least symmetrical in his claims.) I’d then venture over to the plastic bin containing our golden retriever’s food—to find it had also been claimed. The trashcan, the vacuum cleaner…yes, they all had his initials written on them—PP.
If ever a new object entered the room, he was determined to “own it”. I gasped whenever a guest placed their purse or briefcase down on our floor, knowing it was a race against time as to who could reach it first…him or me. I would hastily grab said object as if I were sliding into base—placing said object somewhere above the four-inch- high margin required to be safe from “claimage territory.” Every day, twice a day, I folded about six paper towels and placed them under the left wooden leg of my chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair. A paper towel palette was also carefully placed under the dog food bin. This way, I could “catch” the claimage and throw it away. My house began to look like a sea of Bounty.
I explained to my little dog that really…he could have it all—everything in the house I’d give him—No need to claim it again and again.
He didn’t care.
My husband, sensing my angst, offered various solutions—all of which didn’t end very well for the dog. My dog’s disturbing antics began to haunt me, appearing in my dreams and consuming too many of my thoughts. Really, how stupid…in the big scheme of things… that my dog’s marking could take so much attention from much more important things.
So, I made an appointment for my dog to see the vet. I reasoned that there must certainly be a medical reason for such horrible behavior. An infection? A tick eating away his brain?
Alas…He was healthy. The vet, noting we had never had him “fixed”—(duh, he was obviously broken)—suggested we try neutering him. If this didn’t work (which was possible due to his age) then he would be given behavior meds. If those didn’t work, perhaps I could take them.
My husband was not keen on the idea of spending several hundred dollars for a “possible” solution, suggesting he had much less expensive solutions (of course he meant petting him more often and giving more treats 🙂 ) My veterinarian told me about a shelter an hour away that offered inexpensive neutering.
So, early one snowy morning I drove over an hour to “the place.” After I dropped him off for the day I went to pray—praying that if this little deed being done would not stop the madness—that he would go quietly and peacefully to doggie heaven (I hoped) while under anesthesia. Later in the day, when I picked him up he was as frisky as a young pup. It was obviously not yet his time. Later that evening…day of surgery…we had a birthday celebration at our house that included all of our family and all family dogs. 16 humans, 5 dogs. Not a smart move. My 13-year-old newly-neutered-canine felt the commotion and in his anxiety… peed. Fail.
However, the story didn’t end there. I am thrilled to tell you that this was nearly three months ago…and he has been perfect since that day! No marking…just calm and obedient. (This was perhaps the best $100 I ever spent.) Fixed and fixed. I now smile when I walk in the front door, as there is nothing to find. I sent my veterinarian flowers (not really, but did send her a thank you) and no longer fold the paper towels and place them around the house.
The fox has been captured and the dog has been saved. I’m once again sane and can more peacefully focus on matters of greater significance. That is, until the next fox comes and tries to steal my peace. Prayerfully I’ll be ready for him.