Some stories require more words. Tiger’s story is that kind.
The week had started out for me as the best of times or the worst, depending on your interpretation of the same events. My job was ending, something I had desired since I had started there five years before. Still the news arrived suddenly, an abrupt announcement, no fanfare.
“You are burnt out.”
So this is what burn out looks like. He should know. He set the fire. He told me to go part-time and then “fade away”. I must be an old soldier. According to General Douglas MacArthur, isn’t that what they do?
To be honest, I was no longer where I was supposed to be. The time to leave had fully come. I have always chased a paycheck and not even a good paycheck. I was afraid to let God use me. I was afraid of what His use would look like. Anyone in this society can say, “She had to go to work.” There is immediate understanding, immediate acceptance. Everyone is on board with that. And some really important things get shoved aside, shunted aside, because everyone understands. Money, right? What else is there to do? If someone says, “She had to chase a dream,” embarrassed silence lets you hear all the crickets chirping in the background.
The day after the “fade away” announcement, I went part-time. An hour before I was to leave for the day, my son called me.
A friend of his had an Olde English Bulldogge that had been attacked and mauled badly by another dog of his. The friend could not care for the bulldog. He didn’t have the time or the money and it was going to take both. And the dog might die anyway. He would give my son the dog if he would take her on. My son went and picked her up. She was prostrate, muddy, her legs gouged by multiple bites. The other dog had shaken her; worrying is what they call it, when an animal grips and shakes a victim. That’s where we get the word. That’s what worry does to us – grabs us, shakes us, rips us.
Would I be willing, my son asked, to pick up some puppy replacement milk on the way home. He had cleaned her up, but he had to get to work. Sure, I said. When I got home, she was on her side, breathing and little else. We mixed the puppy milk and he ran on to his job. Then I sat beside her and pushed the milk and water into her mouth with a long-nosed plastic syringe. She drank it, gratefully, I think.
A few hours before, I had been sitting in a clean, well-lit office, hoping for a future I could not see, and that afternoon, I was sitting on the floor, feeding a mangled dog that I had never seen before. It was the best day I could remember for quite a while. So this is what it looked like to be used by God.
The vet gave us 50/50 for her chances of survival and even that was hopeful. She gave us pain meds and antibiotics. She would see us again Monday if…well, if there were still a reason. On the way home from the vet’s office, the dog lifted her head from the car seat. It took a lot out of her to do that, but I think she wanted us to know that she was trying, fighting. If we would, she would.
My son had seen the dog at his friend’s house when she was younger. She was a fine dog, he said, beautiful and active. A jumper with powerful, springing legs. I had a hard time imagining it and I can imagine quite a bit. A lemon brindle, she had just turned a year old the week before the attack. Her stripes gave her the appearance of a tiger. It hurt him to see her that way. “He called her a name that means ‘Fat Girl’, but if she had been mine, I would have called her ‘Tiger’.”
“She’s yours now,” I told him. “Call her ‘Tiger’.” Apart from the stripes on her coat, she was no tiger at all. Head on paws, paws tucked in, all drawn up as tight as she could make her long body, and back legs oozing and draining, blood and more mud and fluids. Tiger. Better than Fat Girl. Hopeful. Strong. Tiger.
To Be Continued
Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved