This was such a dramatic event that the story is still precious to me, years later.
Thursday is Maggie's big day. It's PLAY DAY! Maggie goes to day camp at the vet's office, and she loves it! Today, when I dropped her off, the assistant had a little fumble with her collar. "Oh, don't let Maggie get loose!" the secretary said. We all had a good laugh, remembering her big adventure. (It wasn't at all funny at the time, though.)
It happened like this...
When my son was in high school, headed to Georgia Tech, I began to worry about how I would manage with the upcoming empty nest. I did what any sensible middle-aged mama would do. I went back to work, ran for alderman, and bought a high-maintenance dog. Maggie is an 11-pound Shih Tzu who thinks she is queen and that everyone should pay homage to her. She can dance like a ballerina, walk on her hind feet like a lady, sit, shake, high five, stay (sorta), and roll over. I think she can count to three, but maybe not. She can also herd cows. (We happened on that by accident, but it's a story for another time.)
In a stroke of a true silliness, my office manager at the time (who owns Maggie's full sister) and I decided they should have Sister Spa Day. Maggie and her sister would go to the vet for grooming together. What fun they would have! Or so we thought. The first trip went fairly well, but not too long after we started this, the two girls went with Aunt Judy to the vet. Unfortunately, Aunt Judy opened the van door and Maggie saw her chance. Did I mention Maggie LOVES to run fast? Maggie jumped out and started running. She ran across the street and into a field, where she ran and ran. Suddenly, she spied another field with trees across yet another street. This particular street, however, was one of the busiest streets in town and it was the busiest time of day.
That second field was exactly where Maggie wanted to be, so she headed out at top speed, dragging her leash behind her, with Miss Judy and the vet's office employees chasing along, desperate to catch up. Maggie, who has no idea about cars, darted in front of a car, racing across the street. The first car slammed on the brakes, stopping exactly on the loose leash. Maggie gave a giant tug, broke free, and kept going. She was not letting anything keep her from the next field of fun! As she scooted across the second lane, oncoming traffic screeched to a halt. Yep. You guessed it. Three car pile-up and Maggie just made it past. She was still running. (If you were in one of those cars, please don't tell me. I'm just glad you were safe and thank you for not hitting my wayward dog!)
Unbelievably, Maggie made it to the second field, where she raced around and into the tree line. Not another sign of Maggie. By that time, I had left work to search for my dog. Before long, patients and their families were out helping me look. Not a sign of the little scamp. I looked for her until I finally had to get back to the office, then searched again after work until dark. I was not at all comforted by the people who stopped by and told me the coyotes would eat her during the night.
It was pretty awful to go home to my empty nest without my Maggie. My mama (who lived with me) was as pitiful as I was. We were both trying hard not to cry, and doing a poor job of it. Later that evening, I began to pray for Maggie. She'd never spent a night outside before. She'd never been alone before. I couldn't imagine how scared and lonely she must have been. Not to mention how I was feeling. "Lord," I prayed, "Please tell someone how to find Maggie and help them to find her."
The next morning, a friend called to say he and his wife were bringing me a dog. My first thought was, "Good grief! I only lost my dog yesterday. I'm not ready for another dog!" There was something so cheerful about his greeting that I paused and asked, "Which dog?" What sweet words followed! "Your dog," he said. "I'm bringing you YOUR dog!" I could hardly believe my ears!
That morning, he had awakened and had known how to find her. A former pilot, he used aerial photos to examine the area and found a little shed in the woods. He and his wife drove there, and she walked down the path, straight to the little shed. You guessed it! Maggie had spent the night (maybe the entire time) on a mattress on the floor of the shed. She was waiting to come home! She was stinky from the mattress, but didn't even have leaf litter in her fur. She was unharmed and she was safe.
To this very day, when I look at my big friend, I always think, "the seeker and saver of dogs." I will never get over how my prayers were answered when the exact way to find my dog was exactly what he decided to do and exactly how he found her. He's my hero and the answer to my prayers. I often wonder if he realized that his plan was divinely inspired.
You know, a lot of energy was expended seeking and saving my lost dog, but there are countless people who have also lost their way. For one reason or another, their desire to be free and their need to run have taken them where they never expected to be. There is One who came to seek and to save the lost, and those lost ones are a high priority for Him. The good news is that there is a plan to find them, and we are the hands and feet to carry it out.
Perhaps you are the very one who will seek and bring to safety a lost soul. How can that happen? When you know what needs to be done, do it. Just do it. That's what my hero did. He saw a need, recognized a solution, and did what it took to get the job done. Returning a lost dog is a wonderful thing. Returning a lost soul... now that is priceless.