“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
Over the next few days, I ran to the possum hole in the fence every time I was let out of the house. Marvin was doing a great job, and by the third day it was almost big enough for me to squeeze through.
I think Mom and Dad were getting a little suspicious though. I had decided that the next morning I was going to see if I could make it through the hole and get out into the field.
“Jake sure has been spending a lot of time out by the chicken coop when he goes outside,” Mom had said that night while Dad scratched behind my ears.
“I’ve also noticed him going out behind that old green storage shed. I don’t know what in the world he would be doing over there. It’s almost as if he has some friend that he’s meeting back there.”
I held my breath for a moment. Surely I hadn’t been found out the night before my adventure.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it.” Dad said. “He’s probably just exploring. You know how dogs are.”
“Still, we might ought to keep a good eye on him when he’s out. That fence is not in the best of shape. When I feel a little better I’ll ride the mower along the fence line and see if it needs any repairs.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t been found out, but that meant I would have to go in the morning for sure before my hole behind the bush was discovered.
I awoke in the middle of the night from a terrible dream about wires, and cages, and starving under the cedar tree, but I finally managed to drift back to sleep.
Soon, I was opening my eyes and the sunlight was peeping through the windows of the little gray house.
After we finished breakfast, Mom told Dad that she had to go to the store.
That will be the perfect time for me to get through the possum hole, I thought.
Mom wouldn’t be there to stop me if she saw me through the kitchen window, and Dad’s not able to walk out there fast enough.
As soon as she grabbed her purse and opened the front door, I slipped out onto the front porch.
“Jake’s out,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”
I stood on the porch and watched as she got in the truck and headed down the road.
I took off and ran around the side of the house to go wake up Marvin.
“Hey Marvin, you in there? Are you awake?”
“I am now” he grumbled.
“This is it” I replied, “I’m gonna try to get through that hole while Mom’s gone. Can you come around and help me?”
“You go ahead. I’ll be right there. You know I’m not as fast as you are.”
I ran around to the pen and pushed myself through the bush in front of the possum hole. I started to squeeze through the opening in the fence but it was too small for my belly.
“Too many snack bones” I grunted.
“Here I am,” Marvin panted. “I finally made it.”
“I think I’m stuck,” I said.
“Here, give me your paws and I’ll pull.” Marvin pulled and I pushed, and the next thing you know “POP!”, I was out in the field.
I watched over Marvin until he waddled back to the safety of his branches. It’s dangerous for possums to be out in the open during the day.
I ran to the cedar tree and stopped. That was the spot where I thought I was going to die.
I stuck my head through the barbed wire fence, and looking through the weeds I could see to the other side of the field.
There, just as Marvin described it, was a trash pile with a bent up broken cage in it. Hanging off the side of the cage was a broken rusty wire.
Just as I started to crawl under the barbed wire, I could hear Dad calling from the house.
“Jake! Jake! Come back boy. Come here to Daddy. Come on boy!”
I turned to see, and there was Daddy, walking on his walker across the backyard toward the big gate. He opened the gate, sat on the seat of his walker, clapped his hands and whistled.
“Come here Jake. Come on back boy. Please come back! You’re scaring Daddy. Oh Lord, please have Jake come back.”
I looked back toward the broken cage and the trash pile. As I lay halfway under the barbed wire fence, suddenly memories began to flood my mind.
I remembered hearing someone say, “I can’t afford to pay for heartworm treatments. I’m just gonna take him out and do away with him. He’s no good to me anyway, with all that gruntin’ noise he makes.”
I remembered a long ride in the back of a smelly truck, a big rock in the middle of the road, a bump and the cage flying through the air.
I remembered hitting the ground with a crash, flying through the broken cage door, and banging my head on the ground.
I remembered crawling through tall weeds until I came to a cool spot under a cedar tree and then everything went black.
I turned and looked back at Dad sitting in his walker with his arms stretched out to me.
And I remembered seeing Dad for the first time, mowing the field on his funny red horse, and Mama throwing me a weenie even though she was afraid that I might bite her.
I remembered them taking me in and hearing Dad say that it would take all of their savings to have me treated at the vet.
And then I thought of all the hugs, and kisses, and belly rubs, and food, and suddenly I was running with all my might to Dad.
With ears back and heart pounding, I couldn’t wait to get to him.
It didn’t matter what clues there might be in the trash pile. It didn’t matter where I had been born or what had been left behind.
All that mattered was this family, and this home, and their love for me and my love for them.
Daddy let me in the yard and closed the gate behind us. He gently patted my head and said “Good boy” as we went inside.
The next day Mom and Dad went out and covered the hole in the fence. They didn’t have to bother. I wasn’t going through that hole again, anyway.
The only time that I would go back out in that field was with Mom and Dad beside me.
Someone said one time that when God closes one door, He opens another. I heard Daddy read from the Bible that “all things old are passed away, and all things become new in Jesus Christ.”
The Creator had given me a new home, and a new life, and a new family, and I was never going to take that for granted again.
Oh, and I almost forgot. A new friend.
Marvin and I were going to have some great times together. I couldn’t wait to introduce him to Brother. And maybe even Mom.
She might even name him “eeeeek!”