A few months ago, I bought some new ducks to swim in a nearby pond. A friend chided me, “You just bought the most expensive coyote food to be found.”
The ducks were four months old but were born in a cage and had never been out of it. So, when I released them from the cage, they really didn’t know what to do. They didn’t want to get in the water, or even off the dock where I had released them.
As my friend and I were encouraging them, snuck up from behind me and ran between my legs. Startled at first, I smiled when I realized it was a playful puppy. No collar, no tags, and later a vet verified no chip. People are always dumping dogs out here.
The puppy is now over a year old and is still a real scalawag, always into everything and often making an escape to run the neighborhood for hours at a time. So, I’ve become very vigilant about not letting her get more than a few feet from me.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I took the wild child dog, Barley, and her “sister”, Lily, my long-term faithful Black Lab (who was also a stray) out to the front yard. Immediately, Barley took off to the woods on the other side of the driveway, while Lily looked at her in sheer confusion as if to ask, “Don’t you know how good you’ve got it here?”
I launched out after my wild child of a dog, calling her forcefully. She has the cutest habit of rolling over as if to play dead when she knows she’s in trouble. I was so focused on Barley that I didn’t survey the woods I trekked into after her.
When I reached down to grab her collar, a FAT copperhead reared up and struck me just above my right ankle. I screamed, causing Barley to yelp as if she was the one bit. All I could think of was when I was a child I was bit by a snake three times. When my mother heard me screaming, she rushed me to the hospital. So, I threw the wild child and Lily in the house, put my two parakeets back in their cage (one of them is also a rescue I found on the sidewalk in Hoover as I was riding my bike), and made a beeline for the hospital.
As I lay up recuperating, I gave a lot of thought to all the animals in this story, in my life. I also have two rescue horses; they’ll make an appearance in future stories.
Some of my thoughts were, “What? Am I Na’amah, the wife of Noah with two horses, two birds, two dogs, and two ducks? If so, please limit the copperhead to one!”
But what of the ducks, dogs, snake, and birds in the story?
At first, the ducks pulled at my heart as I saw their fear of leaving their cage, and enjoying what they were created for: water. They made me consider what sort of cages I rather stay locked in that be set free and enjoy my true, God-created nature.
Then the dogs. Lily is faithful, kind, and true. Barley just wants to have fun, and she doesn’t yet know the severe consequences of not “thinking it through” and just being grateful for where she is today. Don’t we all have this internal tension on some level? I’m making it a point to focus on my Lilyness and gratitude.
The copperhead? Many tribal cultures listen to how God might be speaking to them through dreams. Many believe that if a snake appears in your dream, it’s asking you to honor the power in your life, which will lead to healing. It made me wonder if Eve had owned her personal power rather than listening to the snake she may have been healed from whatever caused her to step away from both God and her husband. (Understand, this is metaphorical/symbolic, and I still do not wish to have another literal snake encounter.)
My parakeets, especially Merton. When I found him on the blistering sidewalk one hot July day, he was no bigger than an egg. He was so tiny and dehydrated, I doubted he would survive, but I just couldn’t leave him there. Merton has taught me so much about resilience. He wobbled around for the longest. But, despite his harsh beginning, he just wouldn’t give up. Three years later, he continues to fly out of his cage every morning and sing all day in his tree.
I hope you have enjoyed this more playful Animal blog, and consider what the animals in your life might have to say to you.
Fun Bonus Pics Below: First the Ducks! My friend was right; one got picked off.
Love, your sister along the journey,