Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saving Captain Jack

Captain Phillips wasn't in my neighborhood this past week, but Captain Jack was. He looked like a dachshund-pit bull mix and at first I thought he was dirty, but then it turned out he was a smeared brindle color. He was short and stocky with the broad pit bull head.
I was driving out of my neighborhood and there he was running down the street. He made a sharp right toward a flowerbed on the side of the road and as he looked back over his shoulder he glanced up at my car (probably to assess the threat) and then threw me what looked like a smile.
"What are you doing there little fella?" I said aloud in my car as I rolled down my window.
I looked over my shoulder and out my passenger side window to see where his owner was. I didn't see anyone. I checked my rear view mirror for someone running after him. No one. I kept driving. His owner is probably just around the corner I thought. Or watching him from their front door. Or not?  Maybe I should stop? But what if he's a vicious stray. He does, after all, have pitbull in him. He doesn't look menacing, in fact, I think he just smiled at me, but....
Then I had this distinct thought:
What if this were your dog?
I would want someone to stop. I would want someone to rescue my dog and keep him from becoming a speed bump.
By this time he had stopped sniffing the rosebushes and was running down the road in front of me, out of my neighborhood toward the school. The first place he would reach at the end of my street would be a small grassy park, then a busy road. Then if he made it across that busy road and kept going for about a hundred yards to his right, he would be on one of the biggest and busiest roads in my town. He would be roadkill.
I pulled ahead of him carefully and parked my car on the side of the road. I popped open my glove compartment and grabbed my leash. (I keep one in my car because I have dogs of my own and never know when I am going to need it.) He was trotting along at a good clip, his tail raised high in the air like a flag, his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
I walked a few feet out in the road, bent down and called him over. At that point, I did not know his name, so I just said, "C'mere boy!"
He trotted up to me with a big "Oh my gosh am I going to get a treat?!?" look on his face. I hooked him up on the leash and patted his wide head. He was a lovebug. I walked him out of the street and over to the side of the road near my car. I bent down and tried to get a look at the tag hanging from his collar. In between slobbery kisses, I managed to flip it over and read:
"Cap'n Jack"
and a phone number.
I used my cell phone to call the number. It rang quite a few times. I started to worry that no one would answer. What would I do with Cap'n Jack? I couldn't take him home - my dogs would have a meltdown and a massive doggy brawl would ensue. (My dogs aren't aggressive, they just wouldn't take kindly to me bringing home a stranger. Especially one who likes to be referred to as Cap'n.) I couldn't stay here with Jack all day - I had to get to work. Finally, someone answered on the other end of the phone.
"Hello, yes, I live in the same neighborhood as you and I just found your dog."
"You found Jack?"
"Yes, I found Captain Jack. He was out here running along the road and I uh.."
"Oh wow. I am all the way in Glendale. Let me call my wife and have her come get him. Thank you so much!  I will have her call you right away. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.  What is your name?"
"Thank you Hope. My wife will call you soon."
I hung up and bent down to pet Cap'n Jack who was now getting a little restless. He probably didn't like being held at the side of the road when there were still so many great smells to smell, bugs to eat and dead things to roll in.  I sweet talked him a little bit.
"Whatcha doin' Cap'n?" He wiggled. I bent down and gave him some pats.
"Don't worry little Jackie, someone is coming to get you." He didn't seem worried. He wanted to get off this leash and head out into the great wide open. I walked him around a little bit to keep him moving and then my phone rang.
"Hello?" I answered on the first ring.
"Hi!  You found my dog?"
"Yup. I am down near the park with Captain Jack!"
"Oh, the park just down the street?"
"Oh my gosh. I was babysitting and he just walked out the door and by the time I got out there he was gone and I didn't know which way he went. Thank you so much for stopping him."
"Yeah, he was just trotting down the road and then he took off running toward the busy road and I decided I better grab him."
"Oh my gosh! Thank you so much. I will be right down there."
We hung up and a few moments later, a woman with a stroller appeared down the street. She was pushing it quickly and Cap'n Jack saw her and immediately started to pull. The leash I had him on was an embarrassingly feminine one - thin, pink with hearts and I thought it was going to break as he pulled and pulled to get to her. I was in heels and had to run-trot behind him like a runaway bride.
"Oh my gosh!  Jack! What are you doing?" She bent down and he jumped up on her.
"Thank you so much for stopping and getting him. You saved the day. We would have been so upset to lose you Cap'n Jack!" She patted him and he jumped down, apparently over the reunion and ready to get back to squirrel hunting.
"No problem." I said. "I am just glad he came when I called him and he was easy to catch. It's pretty busy out there right now and I was worried he was going to run out into traffic."
"Oh, I know. I was trying to watch my grand kids and next thing I know it he is out the door and I am looking around, wondering, where is Jack? Thank you so much. You are a hero!"
"No, no, you would do the same thing. I am happy to help. I am just glad he is OK."
She smiled and then bent over and picked up big hulky Jack like he was a five pound Chihuahua. Wow, babysitting sure makes you strong I thought. She held him with one hand and pushed the stroller with the other.
"Do you want some help?" I asked.
"Oh no. I got it." She smiled and pushed the cart while Jack struggled a bit in her arms.
"You can keep the leash if you want to use it."
"No, no, this will work. Thank you, though."
"OK, well have a good one!" I headed back toward my car.
"You too, and thanks again. You really saved the day!"
I smiled, got in my car and headed off to work.
No, I didn't have to go into a phone booth to change my outfit.
I wasn't a hero.
I wasn't even an official dog catcher.
I was just someone who's conscience reminded her of the golden rule.
"Do unto others as you would have done on to you."
I would want someone to save my dog if she got out.
Wouldn't you?
Often times, the golden rule gets twisted around. It turns into, "Do unto others as they do on to you."  In other words, treat them the way they treat you. This is NOT the golden rule. The golden rule says, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." Sounds so simple, but it is not. It goes right in line with the other hard command of Jesus: "Love your enemies. Do good to those who mistreat you."
Really?  Do I have to? I prefer to love those who love me. I prefer to pray for missionaries and mama and my mentor.
Are a you a Democrat who prays for the Republicans you can't stand (or vice versa)?
Are you praying for the in-law you can't stand? You know the one you wish would miss family get togethers?
Are you praying for the neighbor who mistreats you?
The boss who dismisses you?
The co-worker who disrespects you?
And I don't mean pray that they get what they deserve.
Our prayers for those we don't like should not sound like: "And Lord, help Lorraine to stop being such a pain in the a** and be more the person you created her to be and less like the devil's best friend."
Or, "God, please strike down my supervisor with your mighty hand."
Or, "Dear Jesus, please make John fall flat on his face once and for all so that he might be humbled and the rest of us can get on with our lives in peace."
As tempting as it is to pray this way, sometimes the best I can do is just pray that God will soften my heart or open theirs. Amen.
Treating others the way I want to be treated is tough. It is easy to save the stray dog of a stranger because I love dogs and have dogs and would want someone to stop and help if they saw one of mine jogging down the road toward a busy street. But in other circumstances, if the dog belonged to someone I couldn't stand ...would I stop?
I hope so.  I pray so. I don't think the Golden Rule is supposed to be subjective. I am supposed to save Cap'n Jack even if he belongs to the one guy in the neighborhood who blasts his music from his over sized truck late at night, drives too fast, smokes and never smiles.
Saving Cap'n Jack was easy. Who will be out there today that needs help? Someone that might not be so easy to love? I'll keep my eyes open and my leash ready.

Hope A. Horner, 2014
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