Last night a Bassett Hound puppy and his early twenty-something human were practicing commands in the thick grass along the shore of Lake Dillon. I had a great view from the deck of the rental condo.
I watched for a while, wanting to kiss the little pup right between the eyes on his velvety face. The smart puppy was learning sit, stay, down, and come. He was obedient and eager-to-please. Puppy perfection.
This morning, I’m again on the deck. This time with a piece of toast and a cup of tea while watching the sun come up on the lake. I watch for a while as a little ginger-headed boy and his mom fish from the shore, not far off to the right of the deck.
The little pup and his owner from the night before come walking around the far end of the cove. The puppy spies the cute, young fella fishing, and darts out in front of his human. Lance (I’ve heard his name a few hundred times by now) looks like he’s found his life’s purpose: Play. With. Boy!
With ears flapping behind him like fuzzy flags he takes off toward the young fisherman. His human screams, “Laaaaaance,” the pup stops, considers and then waits. “What a good boy,” I think.
As they get closer to the fishing duo, Lance runs up to and around the feet of the little boy in quick, bouncy circles. On one of the rounds, the fishing line gets caught on one of the pup’s ginormous ears. All three see it happen, lunge and holler at the same moment.
Lance realizes he’s become entangled and starts to have a puppy panic attack. Shaking and scratching his head with fury, he takes off running down the shoreline before his human can grab him.
Within about 10 yards, Lance’s head jerks back suddenly, followed by his body, and he lets out a yelp that echoes around the lake.
The young fisherman has caught himself a hound dog.
For the next ten minutes, Lance runs stringing fishing line all over tarnation, while his human uses every command to try to catch him to extract the hook from his ear. He seems to be unable to hear the commands he understood so well just the day before. By this time four other passersby are working to help corral the wounded pup.
Every few minutes Lance’s human stops, out of breath, and wheezes, “I’m so sorry, he usually behaves so well,” and takes off to begin the chase once more.
Poor little pup doesn’t know what to do with himself. The hound wants help but can’t figure out how to stand still long enough to allow it. I may or may not have tears running down my face watching the pup in pain. (I cannot confirm nor deny.)
Finally, someone cuts the line, and one of the kind strangers corners Lance in a big patch of scrub oak. The human gently sits down cross legged, and Lance slowly, hesitantly, crawls up in his human’s lap. The owner takes his pup and snuggles him close while being careful with his ear. He begins apologizing profusely for himself and his pup, and they head slowly back in the direction they came.
The morning sun dances off the fly-fishing hook stuck in Lance’s ear. It shines bright and bouncy as they walk away. Before they reach the bend in the lake, I see Lance feverishly licking the neck and face of his hero.
I can’t help but think how much I am like Lance. How much all of us are like Lance.
We are going about our day working or playing when BAM, life shows up. Our story intersects with that of another, and intentionally or unintentionally, we get hurt. We run. Oh, how we run. Suddenly all the things we know and have learned just don’t matter.
No matter how much we’ve practiced or think we understand the world, life can surprise us, and we run out of instinct. The running only creates more hurt. The running only sets the hook and pain deeper.
Even the people we know who love us try to help, they seem dangerous. When we are scared and in pain, we just keep running.
Just like Lance, we often can’t see the help right in front of us. A good helper will sometimes cut the line to the pain. A good helper will sometimes get us to a safe place and help us stop running. They may just sit still until we’re willing to walk over and ask for help, or simply teach us how to ask for help.
There was a time in my life I didn’t know real help was available. I didn’t know safe existed. I nearly ran myself to death trying to escape the pain. Then a friend gave me a phone number for a counselor. I learned to stop running. Not all at once, but over time. I’m so thankful someone cut the line and took the hook out for me because I didn’t know where to start. A lot of desperation and a little help from others causes us to do things we didn’t know we could.
I’m of the opinion, Lance and all his k-9 friends could teach us all a thing or two about a thing or two.