Some memories seem like yesterday.  I will never forget the day my dad picked me up from a fun evening at the roller skating rink with friends.  I no sooner had hopped in our black van than my dad told me that my dog had been shot and killed by our neighbor.  There was no good reason.  He was just an angry man.  I had never spoken to our neighbor before that day, and I never said a word to him afterward. Up to that point in my life, my pet’s death was the greatest sadness I had ever known.  It was pointless.  I remember feeling a little embarrassed that the death of a canine could cause me such grief, but it did.  Sheba had been in our family since I was in preschool.  We all loved her.

The next day while at Jr. High, I just couldn’t stop the tears.  I walked out of my home-ec class and just sat in a bathroom stall and cried.  Finally, I went to the office and lied.  I told them I was sick.  I called home and said, “Can you come get me? My stomach hurts.” I remember hearing my dad’s voice on the other end, “You missing Sheba are you?” He knew.  “Yeah, a little,” I said.  He came and picked me up.

After that, I never really loved another dog quite the same.  We had many dogs over the years, but in my heart, they were just that, dogs.  I didn’t cry over them.

Fast-forward about 25 years.  I am a mom with three kids, three acres, big house, and even a few chickens.  My husband’s father suddenly passed away.  He had a dog, Red.  Red looks like he belongs in a Disney movie and has the personality to match.  My children wanted to adopt Red as their own.  They promised to take care of him.  Sure, why not. So, Red came home.

One of my hobbies was my chickens, fondly referred to as, “my ladies.”   In the winter I kept a heat light on for them and all year gathered their eggs.  Now if I were a chicken, I would want to have some freedom.  So, I liked to let my chickens roam around.  The chickens were happier and the eggs yolks a rich orange compared to their pale yellow yolks when I kept them caged.

As it often seems the case when these things happen, I was the only one home.  While inside the house, I heard a very distressed chicken clucking and the delight of a dog on the hunt.  I rushed outside and find my fear; a trail of feathers leading to one dead and another mangled but still living chicken.  Red was standing over my lady with feathers around his mouth like a child with tell tale signs of having dipped into the cookie jar. I scolded that mutt with a spank and a loud, “NO!” I also called him a few names that he had never heard me say, but he seemed to understand quite well. His proud perky countenance changed quickly to that of doggy guilt.  It was too late. The damage had been done.

So there I stood alone with a guilty mutt and a mangled chicken in front of me. The compassion in me knew I had to put this chicken out of its misery, but the lady in me was screaming, “This is a boy job!”

I found an axe close by.  With a few more choice words, I raise the axe, aimed carefully for the neck and gave it all I had. After all, I didn’t want to have to repeat this action.  In concert with how my morning had been going, I looked down to a now even more mangled still alive chicken.  So, I repeated…. again and again and yet again.  Finally, the suffering had ended.  I dropped the axe next to the decapitated chicken and cried my way back to the house.

Red and I were off to a shaky start.

Every mother knows that the responsibility of a new animal, contrary to the many promises, WILL fall on the responsible party, mom.  And as it goes, animals tend to take notice of who keeps their water and food dish full.  They remember who takes them on walks.  It seemed to me Red was trying to make it up to me.  He was always happy to see me, attentive, and with head tilted and ears cocked, ready for a walk.

The day he won my heart was the day I walked outside to find that my now caged chickens had escaped their coop and one had found Red’s dog food.  Red was standing there with as much self-control a dog could possibly muster.  He was watching my lady eat HIS food!  He looked like an addict staring down his next fix. I could tell he wanted SOOO badly to fill his mouth with chicken feathers, but he didn’t.  Never again did he touch another chicken, even if it was eating out of his bowl.

All past sins were forgiven. We bonded.

I have found that life has a way of coming in seasons.  My family recently made a move to a new city.   In this season I have had to let go of a few things that I hold dear; my dream home, my land, my church, my dear friends and my well established life in a great community.  More difficult than that has been the knowledge that my children are giving up the very same things. At times it seems like a lot to give up.  When in the adjusting to my new city I feel a mini decent into self-pity, I remind myself that home is wherever my family is.  Then, I grab Red and we go for a walk.

We live in a neighborhood now, so Red doesn’t have the room to roam like he did at our old house.  He needs some exercise. It works out because he gives me a reason to get up and out in the fresh air.  We don’t speak the same language, but even still, he’s pretty good company.  I even joke with my friends back home that Red is my new best friend.

Now if I were a dog, I’d want to have room to roam.  A back yard is like a jail to a dog that has never known a fence.  Red seems to share my opinion.  He has become a great escape artist.  While the neighbors have been gracious, they have made it clear that in THIS neighborhood, dogs stay in their yards.  The problem is, Red just wasn’t born to be one of those dogs that get zapped when he crosses the invisible shock collar line.  He’s a free spirit.  He needs room.  Besides, keeping a dog fenced in a yard that sits on a sand hill is like putting a stop sign in a fish tank.  We are talking sand people, the escape itself has become pure joy for Red… 30 seconds of digging and wala, freedom!   After many attempts to keep him fenced in, it became obvious this set up wasn’t working.

Today, as usual Red and I went for our daily walk.  As we rounded the last corner of our three miles, tears once again filled my eyes for the love of a dog.  Today was my last walk with Red. He’s not dying, but he is going away to live with a dear friend who has room for him to roam.  I know he will be quite happy.  Nevertheless, somehow I feel like that young girl that got picked up from the roller rink to find that her dog was gone forever.

But, I am not that little girl any more.  Today I know that there is a silver lining to be found in everything.  The key is to recognize and learn to embrace it.  Today is one more little life lesson.   It is one more lesson in letting God use the circumstances of my life to mold me.  I get it.  It is just like a fruit tree that is pruned so that it will bear fruit.  Life is just like that sometimes.  There is a cutting away of the old so that the new can grow.  I have felt God’s pruning in this season of life.  Little by little, gently He prunes until I stand bare before Him.  When I think there is nothing left to prune, He finds one more branch that must go, Red.

I wrote this in my journal; “Lord, whatever You have for me I receive.  How pointless would it be surrender so much to You and then not trust You to complete what You have begun.  So prune what You must in my life.  For I know that soon the seasons will change and there will be fruit again.”  I am Yours.

In the surrender season of my life, sometimes tears are the rain for the soul.  It rained a little today.

14 Responses to “Red”
  1. Janelle Campbell says:

    Thank You Lori! I can relate to this in so many ways and appreciate you taking the time to write it down! Love and Hugs are being sent your way!

  2. dawn rowe says:

    Red rolled in horse poop today. Now I have the smell of wet dog throughout the house cuz I gave him a bath. I smell like wet dog. Still missing him?? 🙂
    Keep up the inspiring blogs. 🙂

    • Lori Bradeen says:

      Oh, that is so funny…. you’re way sweeter than I ever was. I just kept him outside and didn’t pet him for about a week. I could get him to stop killing chickens, now it’s your job to get him to stop rolling in dung! Good luck my friend.

  3. Katrina Fraser says:

    Lori, Thank you for taking the time to pin your thoughts down. How often I want to share things with others and at this time have not taken the time to write it down. This openness will lead to great fruit in your ministery to woman. I love how you share it like it is. In the past month I have thought of you and Van often wondering how things were progressing and praying for details to come together and now that I have read your church web site I am supper excited for all the Lord is going to do in Spokane, WA. God You Rock!!! Thank you for making the great sacrifice in moving your family to a completely different city. It is never easy to up and move a wonderful church family or incredible girlfriends. I still miss both. Then on the other hand I have seen God’s hand pruning away so much and know that as you said if I completely surrounder to His pruning He will complete the process. So my friend the road is hard but the Lord will reward you in the years ahead. I look forward to all the amazing things the Lord is going to do.

  4. Lynnie says:

    When I heard you got rid of Red I was angry! I thought, “How could they give away the best dog is the world?” He was specially trained by Van’s dad and will even stop chasing a rabbit or mouse if you say his name.
    Reading your blog brings it all into perspective. Obedience to the Lord and doing what’s best does not always feel natural.
    Praying for new friendships,
    Your big sister

    • Lori Bradeen says:

      Thanks sis..he is a very happy dog where he lives now. He’s the buddy to an only child and has lots of space for roaming. He gets walked daily, bathed when he rolls in horse poop and doggy treats! Totally spoiled. He would have died a slow death sitting in our back yard.

  5. Tracy Robinson says:

    Lori, God has put such creativeness coursing through your veins! Thank you for sharing, for making us laugh, cry, and bringing home a lesson from God.

  6. pa says:

    Regarding Red and the ladies,I recall a situation that took place when someone somehow backed over a duck and did not kill it.I also recall being told of a shovel that came into play,
    .Could it have been you were being taught by ma how to handle this type of situation.. I just really enjoy your blog and the comments it draws,i have reread it several times. You really have been blessed Love Pa

  7. Margaret says:

    I have pretty recently met Red and of course, have fallen in love. The furry fellow appears to be manufactured of a conglomeration of various sizes of springs under his coat!
    Thanks for bring heart to the topic of love of pets. Unfortunately, non -pet people are clueless.
    when I was growing up, we had the dog sent from heaven. Sparky was a black and white Cockapoo who filled our days with laughter with his brilliance and laughter.
    One day when I was away at Bible school, my Mom called to tell me that our family dog, Sparky had suffered a stroke and was paralyzed in the lower half of his body. My17 year old brother now carried the small black and white furry bundle around on a pillow. A short time later came the call that he had been put down. The dog, not my brother. My roommates found me on the floor, sobbing hysterically, face down in the middle of our small bedroom. To this day, there is not a dog alive who can compare to our Sparky but
    I am convinced that Sparky and Red are related.

  8. Kim stepard says:

    Oh Lori! I remember this so well. Jo got on the bus sobbing. We cried all of the way to school. We walked through the woods later saying nasty things ( loudly) to that neighbor. Well, as nasty as two little girls dare. It broke our hearts. I am now the girl who adopts any stray, handicapped and unloved animal that comes my way. I am so glad that you have been lucky enough to love an animal so completely that you would put their needs first.

    Just found your blog tonight. You have made me smile and cry. What a wonderful writer you are!!!

  9. Gloria says:

    Yes, I loved it…… Your short stories should be in print or on kindle for the world to enjoy, laugh , and cry.
    Imagine WORK AT HOME!

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