Technically, Jake belongs to Deborah. In reality, Jake belongs to the neighborhood…or to be perfectly honest, it’s more that our neighborhood belongs to Jake. We live in a more rural setting, so as long as the dog is friendly, we’re not too particular about leash laws here. We have several such dogs on our street and they all stop by from time to time just to say “Hi” before proceeding with their day.
Jake is different. He is our patroller, our squirrel catcher and our friendly greeter of all things unknown. He starts the mornings off early making his regular circuit down the street and I’ve often wondered what it would look like if we could put a camera on his collar and see all that he sees. We sometimes sit on my front steps and lean into each other as we watch the early morning changes or the occasional sunset. Although he isn’t a very large dog, he’s “scrappy” as we say around here.
He is also our protector. Once he’s determined that an unknown vehicle has arrived at my house, Jake arrives to supervise. He checks out the delivery, repair or service vehicles and their occupants…and then he comes to stand guard by my front door…unless I’m outside. In that case, he stands or sits right next to me. Although he has never barked or been threatening in any way, it is abundantly clear that he’s there to make sure all goes well with me…or else. More than once he has deliberately placed himself between me and danger.
In return, I buy treats for Jake, know the exact spot under his collar that needs to be scratched and keep a blanket in my garage for those times when he needs to seek refuge, as well. We don’t usually have hard winters here, but when we get the occasional runs of temperatures below freezing, Jake can usually be found on his blanket at the back of our garage until he hears the sound of Deborah’s car. After that, he’s off like a shot so he can be there to greet her when she gets home.
The only things that seem to bother Jake are the pack of big German shepherds which sometime escape their fenced-in area and loud noises. He hates both of those. I suspect he has reason to do so.
This past week, God put on a particularly spectacular light show complete with the accompanying volume of sound effects as a preface to a storm…right over our neighborhood. Apparently, Deborah wasn’t home yet, so Jake arrived at top speed and headed straight for us in the shop behind the house. We were on our way out, but he was pretty determined to stay. It took a good deal of coaxing and I’m pretty sure it was his own great mandate to protect me that finally made him leave the shelter and come with me across the open yard as we headed toward the house.
I didn’t think it was possible, but he managed to be inside while the garage door was less than a foot off the ground and when it was finally open enough for me to enter, he was half-way under my truck. Once his blanket had been laid down at the back, he was on it and curled up…shaking and panting to beat the band. We stayed there together out in the hot garage with the lightening flashing and the thunder rolling and we took our turn at taking care of Jake instead of the other way around for a change.
As the storm passed over us there was a breath of wind smelling like sweet corn in the field that pushed through ahead of the rain and the almost holy scent of it filled our garage. Just one breath of that and then it was gone…replaced by the hot sticky oppression of before. A loud clap of thunder overhead and then rain in torrents coming down so loud and fast you can’t imagine. Jake huddled near my knees–panting and shaking, but knowing he was with people who loved him. Once the storm reduced to just rain, he soon settled down enough to have three treat strips and wait for the rain to pass, as well.
It’s good to have a place of refuge when the world gets loud and uncomfortable. I’ve always been grateful that God has been and provided those places for me…and I’m happy we get to be that place for Jake…and others.
“You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7
Selah: think about that for awhile…
(Informational note: We are not the only ones who provide treats and shelter to Jake on our street. I’m aware that Marie feeds him Vienna sausages and Mr. Wood gives him table scraps and there are others, as well. Deborah probably saves on dog food bills because we’ve been told that sometimes Jake arrives home from his day too full to eat.)