By Sandi Brown
Patience. Doesn’t that word just make you cringe? Patience is something that is hard and difficult and not fun. Being patient means waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting . . . all while trying to have a positive attitude. Patience is something that I can certainly improve on, as I tend to excel in the area of impatience.
Oftentimes we ask God to help us become more patient, don’t we? Then we find that God sends things that absolutely push us to our limits. With these situations, we could lose control and get upset—or we could laugh and realize that this is just another lesson in patience.
Ready for Vacation
The thing that often pushes me to my limits is my dog, Scooby. Last year as we prepared to leave for Christmas vacation, we loaded up the van to capacity: five people, five suitcases, four pillows, four blankets, one bag of snacks, five water bottles, two bags full of gifts, one travel DVD player (a big help for traveling with 3 kids, although ours broke on the way home), five winter coats, five pairs of boots, and two dogs. Yes, you read that right—two dogs. We were dropping them off to the vet to board them while we traveled.
We have one calm dog, Sammy, who is our older beagle. Then we have a hyperactive nutcase of a black lab who we call Scooby. This is how we fit: me and my husband in the front of the van, then my two girls in the middle seat with Sammy sitting peacefully on top of them, and then my son holding the psychopathic Scooby in the back. Actually he wasn’t really holding him as much as he was restraining him from flinging his entire body over the seats to try to come to the front of the van.
Arriving at the vet is always a fun time as both dogs anxiously try to propel their bodies out of the van at the same exact time. Sammy carefully tries to hop out at the same time Scooby thrusts his body through the doorway, dragging my poor son behind.
After the dogs smelled the grass around the clinic, we went inside. Suddenly it hit Scooby. You could read his mind as he cowered in the corner refusing to go farther than the entrance: This is the place I detest with every fiber of my being!
Scooby then cleverly slid his neck out of his collar and turned toward the front door—the front door that was not shut completely. Out of the corner of my eye, all I saw was a flash of black and then saw the door slammed shut behind Scooby as he ran free. My son scrambled after him in an effort to catch the lightning-fast dog.
My husband was waiting in the van. He saw us go in. He saw the door open again. He saw Scooby run by. Then he saw my son run by with the dog collar in his hand. Uh-oh.
A Game of Chase
The next moments are a blur in my mind. I remember running circles around the vet clinic with my entire family and the vet workers, yelling Scooby’s name as he paraded around playing a game of chase. He was probably having the time of his life as he escaped being caught by so many people.
He went next door to CVS to check out the people there. He ran into the busy traffic at the intersection and dodged cars for a while. Then he ran across the street into the parking lot by a grocery store. At this point, my husband and kids followed on foot while I got back into the van to try to catch up with the escapee.
For the next half hour, we ran and drove through the town—by the movie theater, by the surrounding neighborhood, in a field, in traffic—chasing our carefree dog. As much as I get frustrated and want to get rid of him some days, I couldn’t imagine my kids witnessing him getting hit by a car. Or what if we couldn’t catch him? How long would we chase him before we gave up? How could we leave knowing he was on the loose? He didn’t even have his dog tags on since he got out of his collar.
Scooby slowed down a bit but still evaded being caught. I would drive into the neighborhood where he sat and then he would run back to Arby’s. I would drive to Arby’s and he would run back to the neighborhood. It was a big game. My poor kids even tried riding with me and jumping out to get him as we drove by. They tried everything. They were cold little popsicles at this point.
Finally I opened the van door again in a last effort and summoned Scooby to come. “Please, Scooby, let’s go home. Come here!” I pleaded as I squatted down next to the van and called him over. As he started to run, he slid on a patch of ice, which scared him, causing him to run to me.
Then I panicked. How do I keep him here? There’s no collar to hold! So I grabbed his chest fur in one hand and his leg in the other hand, holding on for dear life as I screamed for backup. One of my daughters caught up and proceeded to grab his tail. So there we were, holding his tail, leg, and chest as the rest of my family came around the corner panting for breath. The collar got reattached—and tightened. Then poor Scooby went back to the vet.
After we got him settled and drove away, now off our schedule for our trip, we all started to giggle. Can you imagine what we looked like to the passing traffic? All five of us, chasing a silly black dog through the streets and parking lots—three kids and my husband running after him while I drove around, hopping out of the vehicle again and again, trying to entice him in; our family surrounding houses of people we never met before, trying to get our frustrating dog out of their yard; us running after Scooby through a field then discovering we were covered with mud!
We could’ve been upset with Scooby and let this little escapade ruin our vacation. But instead, our family decided to laugh about how our dog decided to test our patience. Scooby had no idea the stress he was causing us. Instead he was ecstatic about his small taste of freedom! We would not have gained anything by losing our patience. But look what great memories we gained by turning this situation into something positive. As Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
And where is Scooby now? He is home, safe and sound, sleeping here beside me as I write this. I don’t know whether to love this dog or hate him. He is just so cute. But he is such a problem child. All in all, it was a memorable moment—a Brown family experience we will never forget.
Sandi Brown is a pastor’s wife and freelance writer from Tomah, Wisconsin.