God has an interesting way of getting us to our knees sometimes. There are some things that push us over the edge (like last week’s sermon prep) and force us to say, “God, I really need your help with this one.” Today, part of that was talking to our friendly, neighborhood “dog lady.”
BE WARNED – I’m going to sound like I’m complaining / venting… Well… That might be partially true, but this post has a good ending, and I realize that this is an area that I need to change in.
There’s a lady in our apartment complex that lives on the first floor. She seems pretty nice, if not a little eccentric. If anyone remembers Wanda Gilmore from the PBS Wishbone TV series growing up (is that weird that I remember that?), that’s what she reminds me of… except that she loves dogs instead of plants. Unfortunately, I don’t know her name, so I’ll just affectionately call her “TDL” or “The Dog Lady.”
She keeps several “previously-stray” dogs in her first-story apartment. You can often hear them barking as you walk by. There are many different breeds and kinds, some old, some young, one or two are blind, one has had multiple surgeries. She lives for those dogs, to give them a home. I somehow think that she probably doesn’t have anyone else.
The poor dog that has had multiple surgeries, Bagheira, often would kind of guard the front door of our building. She would lay there and just hang out, sometimes waiting for TDL, sometimes just because she liked it. Bagheria has never been very nice to our dog, Candy, and growls at her every single time we walk by. I’ve tried several times to make friends with the dog, offering her cookies or other food, and nothing has worked.
The problems happened when people were leaving home fellowship one night and I chose to walk Candy while seeing them out of the apartment yard. In the confusion of everyone walking out, making sure the kids were all accounted for, etc., I neglected to keep a close eye on Candy. Bagheria has only ever growled up to that point, so I didn’t think it was a problem that she was at her usual spot. Then, it happened – Bagheria attacked my dog.
Now – no dog attacks my dog. Not if I’m close by. They all get to know that really quick. In addition to that, there were kids nearby from the folks that come to home fellowship, so I was terrified and felt that I needed to take swift, pointed action.
I started to chase Bagheria with Candy’s leash, eventually throwing it at her (this all took about .7 seconds), right as TDL came out the door to see what was going. She’s been suspicious of me ever since. I feel that it’s impossible to have a positive interaction with her. That all happened about a month before Christmas.
We met downstairs about an hour ago while I was walking Candy much later than I normally do. It didn’t really go well – she started to raise her voice at me basically right off, asking me to stand aside while she made her way past. I immediately obliged, telling her that she didn’t need to shout. That’s something that I still haven’t gotten used to about Ukrainian culture – everyone likes to yell here. EVERYONE! It’s like it’s the only way that you can get your point across.
The rest of the conversation was about how she was terrified of me, because I habitually don’t let her go past. I apologized and told her it wasn’t something I was purposefully doing (that’s also something that doesn’t seem to “count” here…), and that I will try to keep that in mind in the future.
When I got home, I was thinking about how I’m preaching this sermon series and am trying to serve in the church, while I’m doing a bad job being a missionary to my neighbors. (Any other missionaries feel me here?)
TL;DR? Please pray for her and that we can be a light to her. I was thinking about how she might be lonely or may even be “self-medicating” something by keeping all of those dogs. Either way, I want to be a better neighbor (…without being a pushover). We need wisdom, I need grace and tact (two things that I often lack), and we need the Holy Spirit to give us the right words to love her much better than I am right now.
Thanks for praying.
P.S. – The sermon series is going alright. I’m working on sermon #3 about 1 Samuel 17. Here’s an advertisement that I put together for it:
It says “Fight in the Valley: David vs. Goliath”, quoting Goliath “Am I a dog…” and David “I come against you in the Name of the Lord of Hosts!”