PARABLES FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART: Introducing “Jake”

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  (Prov. 17:22)

My wife first saw the black, ominous shadow lurking underneath the cedar tree. “I believe there’s a dog in our back field, just lying out there by the fence under a tree.”

That’s just great, I thought. Maybe he’ll be gone by the time I have to get out there and mow tomorrow.

“Somebody probably just let him out. He’ll go home soon, or they’ll come looking for him” I said. But nobody came looking, and the next day he was still there. And the next.

We‘ve seen stray dogs before. Because of where we are located, people have come down and dropped animals off when they don’t want them anymore, or can’t afford them, or the animals are sick.

Who knows why some people do the cruel things they do. They usually wander off and are gone by the time animal control comes out.

But this time was different. This dog didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

We could see him when he would venture out from under the tree and walk across the field to gaze at the cattle fenced in on the other side.

He appeared to me as if he might be part wolf: vicious looking, but thin. He would hungrily watch the cows, then turn around and walk back to his spot under the tree as if resigned to the fate that had brought him there.

By the third day, my wife couldn’t stand it any longer. “I know he must be thirsty and hungry.” she said. “I am not going to watch this dog die from starvation or thirst.”

Well, just set a bowl over the fence.” I replied.

With her being diabetic, and myself on chemo medicine, neither one of our immune systems could stand a battle with a dog scratch or bite. We watched from the kitchen window as he came up to the fence and ate out of the bowl.

The next morning we awoke to see the bowl out under the cedar tree, just lying there comfortably next to the black, ominous shadow.

Dog or no dog, I have got to mow that field, I thought.

“Take your pistol with you, just in case. You don’t know what that dog might do.” my wife said as I headed out the door.

So with my trusty pistol hanging from the gear shift on the big red riding mower, out the double gate I went, all the while keeping a wary eye towards the black shadow lurking under the tree.

After I had mowed one length of the field, I heard my wife yelling at me over the roar of the engine.

Thinking the worst, I started to grab for my gun as I jerked around to see her pointing behind me, and there trotting along like a faithful servant behind his master, with his tail about to wag off, was one of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen.

This ominous shadow I had feared from far away had transformed into one of man’s best friends. Not black and wolf-like as I had thought, but with the classical markings of a Rottweiler, yet the ears, face, and tail of a German Shepard.

While he had been following me as I mowed, my wife had retrieved the bowl from under the tree and filled it with water. As soon as I had finished mowing and turned the mower off, my newfound friend retreated back to the safety of his cedar tree.

Still unsure of his true nature, my wife threw a wiener toward him while I assumed the position of armed protector atop the safety of the riding mower. Our fears were unfounded, as he soon came out with tail wagging and gobbled down the tasty snack.

Several tasty snacks later, he retreated back to the safety of his tree and we to the safety of our fenced and gated yard, knowing at least that for the time being, he was not going to starve or die of thirst.

We never anticipated the terrible thunderstorm that would arrive overnight.

Surely the storm scared him off, I thought as I awoke the next morning. With a full belly he has probably gone to find his home.

My wife was the first to look out the kitchen window. “Would you come and look at this?” she said.

There he sat at the double gate, with his ears perked up and his little bowl beside him. That did it.

“All right. We’ll let him in the yard and he can sleep under the covered porch until we can get him a doghouse. But he’s going to be an outside dog, and no touching or petting until we can take him to the vet and make sure that he has his shots.”

We agreed. Strangely, we had never heard him bark.

He didn’t stay many days out on the porch. After a trip to the vet for shots and tests, we got the worst news a dog owner can get. He was heartworm positive.

This is like malignant cancer to a dog. Infected by a mosquito bite, the tiny worms spread through the blood to the heart, where they grow and soon break off to the lungs and other organs slowly draining the life from the innocent host.

The only cure is a devastating treatment that brings the dog to near death while killing the dreaded infection. Not wanting the worms to gain a further stronghold, I scheduled the treatment right away.

I had thought about calling him “Brownie” because of his color, but our son said that he looked like a “Jake”. So Jake it was.

The vet had said that after the treatment, he was to stay inside and to be let out only for bathroom privileges for five weeks. So much for being an outside dog.

When Jake returned home from his two-day stay at the vet, he seemed fine at first. That is when we discovered his hidden talent.

If he wanted to go outside for a potty break, he would go to the door and grunt like a pig: “oink, oink, oink.” If he wanted a treat, he would come and stand next to you and “oink”, or sometimes he would just come and sit in front of you and grunt until you scratched behind his ears or under his chin.

It seemed that this was his way of talking to us. My wife lovingly called him her little “pig dog” and said pigs must have raised him. But all of his efforts at conversation soon stopped.

It seemed that Jake had not gained back enough weight and strength from his homeless days to sustain him through the poisonous treatment. He grew weaker by the day. He quit eating and could not control his functions.

After trying everything that the vet had suggested to try to get him to eat, and everything we could think of, all to no avail, we rushed him back to the vet. He had lost down to twenty-nine pounds.

The tests revealed kidney, liver, and lung damage. We later found out that the attending technicians thought that the vet would advise for him to be put to sleep. But this was not to be.

We are people of faith with a strong belief in our Lord and His love for us and all His creation. We had begun to pray at the first sign of trouble, asking God to have mercy on us by healing the little companion that He had sent.

The vet gave him two shots and prescribed strong antibiotics and steroids, saying that if he was not better in three days there was nothing more that he could do. I replied that through prayer, Jake was going to be our miracle dog.

The next morning when he awoke, it was as if he had never been sick. His appetite returned, he began to play, and his little pig language of “oink, oink, oink” was as strong as ever.

Our little “pig dog” had become our little miracle dog. That was two years and sixty-five pounds ago. He shows no signs of the kidney, liver, and lung damage.

Jake finally learned to bark. While trying to get him to learn to speak on command, he let out a meager and hoarse “arf”. With age and poundage, that “arf” has become a loud and booming “ROWLF” that has frightened many an animal intruder away.

I had told the vet at the first that Jake was our little rescue dog. We felt that The Lord had brought him to our field that we might rescue him, but we were to find out that this little black shadow that would not go away was sent to rescue us.

Having been diagnosed six years ago with an inoperable brain tumor, I take medication to prevent grand mal seizures, but I am still apt to slip into partial onset seizures (usually while I am asleep), which take several days to recover from.

It was while slipping into one of these seizures that I felt a little furry head bumping against my leg and the familiar sound of “oink, oink, oink” which snapped me back to reality. Several times now Jake has demonstrated this unique ability to sense when these seizures are about to occur and has come to my aid.

The Bible says that God works all things together for good to those who love Him. This little dog that seemed so frightening at first has become a loving and inseparable part of our family. To those who do not know him, he may be just the dog that grunts like a pig, but to us he is a miracle sent from God.

Taking literary license concerning the facts as we know them about Jake, we have begun writing a series of children’s books telling of Jake’s adventures as seen through his eyes known as “The Little Pig Dog” series.

Perhaps the world will come to love him as we do, and find the same humor and joy that he has brought to us.

And now Jake will tell his own stories and adventures, in his own words.

(But we must remember, Jake has a very big imagination, and sometimes it is hard to tell what is real and what Jake’s daydreams are.)

Next- PARABLES FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART: The Dog Who Grunts Like a Pig

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