It was a scary Saturday to say the least. But let’s not start there. While it may be a simple story, as is typical with life’s inherent teachings, the point is so much bigger… that is, if we’re willing to pause, reflect and actually see it.
We are new to this pet owner thing. Well, new as of 7 years ago to being semi-responsible dog owners. I’m not really comfortable with the word “owners” there. The fact is that Yogi, our 53 lb. British Labrador Retriever, is no doubt a full-fledged family member. She eats, sleeps, plays, exercises and so much more right alongside of the rest of us. She also is the family’s most humble, loyal member.
As for temperament, our golden brown gal is kind and gentle, never anxious, and always eager to be playful. She would never be classified as ferocious… but try not to say that too loudly; we enjoy her bark as an extra home security measure… although with a touch or a treat, any would-be thief would quickly discern her feeble safeguarding ability. All that to say, our family loves her so.
We also have never had any significant issues with Yogi. Thank God she’s been healthy and also quite obedient. Our challenges have been few. That is, until Saturday.
As is my weekend practice, I went on one of my longer, multi-mile walks, stopping to see a dear friend along the way, when my youngest calls and says, “Mom, we’ve got a big problem,” words no parent is 100% certain as to what will come next. “Yogi is gone. We can’t find her anywhere!”
We’re in the midst of a construction project on the back of our house. When Yogi went out back as usual this morn, she uncovered a new, quite creative egress. Note that had any of us been with her, she would most likely have never ventured off; she loves to be with us and stays continuously near. But with none of us in sight, it was a little like the wardrobe suddenly opening up in the iconic “Chronicles of Narnia” series, just daring young Edmund Pevensie to explore. Edmund was curious. So was Yogi. Yes, time to explore an exciting, newfound world.
I raced home to aid in the search. Two of my sons were out separately wandering. I picked up the youngest by car, and off we went, slowly, deliberately, street by street, rotating rhythms of calling her name aloud and silently saying our prayers.
We live in a wonderful, contemporary wellness community. It is growing and vibrant and full of activity. It also has many streets, many back-of-house alleys, and multiple thoroughfares where the average speed is a little faster. Cars are always coming through. Hence, not only was I actively searching for Yogi, I was preparing my head and my heart for what I would say to my youngest son should we find Yogi, but not in an ok state.
I pulled off to the side of the road and texted my neighbors. They called, sharing the concern. One put Yogi’s pic on our neighborhood social media page. We continued to search. Worry increased.
Soon we had a sighting. A young boy, maybe 7 or so — who also has a dog as a full-fledged family member — took a picture and shared it with his dad. His dad would later tell me his son said he did what he would want others to do if his dog had gotten away.
They would try to grab Yogi, but she’s fast, you know. She ran again; she likes to play. But they put that pic on our Facebook page. Soon, then, there was another sighting. And then another.
Our neighborhood is wonderful but big; we don’t all know each other. “Does anyone know whose dog this is?” Many would ask. And then, a friend here, a co-worker there… they each chimed in. Finally, after a search that lasted a good 90 minutes, someone posted they had Yogi.
Apparently, a dad and his kids were walking down one of our many sidewalks, and noticed a dog swimming in an adjacent lake. We have lots of lakes in our community. We also have lots of gators. Dangerous, lunch-searching gators. The dad, knowing this wasn’t ok, called our pup over, to which Yogi, being as social as she is, pleasantly obliged. That dad walked the rest of the way home, holding Yogi’s collar, putting her in their backyard, as they awaited our visit.
My point today isn’t simply to share an emotional Saturday. It’s also not any advocacy of owning a dog. Rather, as we recovered our furriest family member and my heart was slowly put back into my chest, it dawned on me how the problem was solved… how a real difference was made.
There are lot of people here. We’re diverse. We don’t all think alike. We don’t all act alike. And we don’t all look alike. We have different beliefs, different creeds and different colors. But when there was a significant problem, one that needed to be urgently solved, instead of pointing any fingers, instead of casting any blame, instead of demanding groupthink and denouncing all that’s otherwise, we kept what was most important, most important. We worked together, respecting all, with the priority of solving the problem.
One of the reasons our country struggles so much is because we let other things get in the way. We prioritize things other than working together, respecting all, and solving the problem.
Yogi, for one, is grateful our sweet community isn’t like that.