The Best Laid Plans

As anyone who is following along at home knows, I’ve been less than busy in my new locale, much to my chagrin.  I enjoy being busy – going places, doing things, seeing folks…I’m very much an extrovert in that sense.  This weekend, however, was set to prove the exception.  I was literally scheduled to do something about every two hours on Saturday from 7 AM until 4 PM.  And although a lot of it was fun, I would have rather had all the fun spread out over a few weekends.

My day began at 7 AM with training for the 4 Miler.  I did my 2+ miles for the day and high-tailed it home to take a quick shower, then ran out for an appointment I had in town at 9 AM.  From there, I went downtown to meet some book club folks for coffee and then planned to head to a women’s lunch at church with one of the people from book club who also attends my church.

This is where my tight schedule and best laid plans went awry.

We had parked in different lots so we said our adieus and promised to meet up with one another in the lot next to the church.  I was fairly certain I knew two ways to get from point A to point B (still being new, I don’t have a whole lot of shortcuts in my repertoire yet!) and took the one I thought would be the quickest.  But in my overscheduled, slightly stress-inducing day, God had something to show me.  He has a tendency to do that when you aren’t paying attention and are caught up in the busyness of life;  at least that’s what happens to me!

I was about halfway to church when I noticed an old golden retriever mix, soaking wet, ambling along the road.  I didn’t see any people around and noticed she was wearing a collar and tags so I pulled up alongside her.  She was wagging her tail but kept on going;  I was afraid by the way she was ambling that maybe she had been hit by a car and the fact that she wouldn’t come near mine made me even more concerned.  She finally stopped a bit of ahead of me in a shady area.  I pulled over, thinking this would be a quick stop – do my good deed, get the dog back to her owners and get over to lunch in the nick of time.  But she was intent on continuing her journey so I MacGyvered a leash from my belt and examined her tags.  I called the vet listed on the rabies tag first and they assured me they’d call her family and give them my number.  In the meantime, I tried getting her in the air conditioned car, thinking that would be better for both of us and easier for me to drop her off once the owner called.

But the owner didn’t call.  And she wouldn’t get in the car.

I stood there in the blazing sun wondering what to do.  I was hot, I was late…I was stressed.  But like my overscheduled day, I had done this to myself.  I’m completely incapable of leaving a pet, especially one with tags, wandering the streets when I might be able to help.  I know I’d be devastated to lose one of mine and I always just think of that and stop.  In the past, however, it’s usually been a quick fix:  the owners drive up, looking for the pet;  the pet has a rabies tag and I reach the owner through the vet;  the tag lists the owner’s number and I reach them directly.  All is resolved, tied up with a neat bow – good deed done and I’m on to the next thing.

But that’s the thing about life. It rarely gets tied up with a neat bow.  Sometimes you get dirty.  Sometimes you end up smelling like a wet dog.  And sometimes the easiest thing (or what you think is the “best” thing) just doesn’t work out, no matter how hard you try.

You get a bad report from the doctor.
You don’t get the job.
You get the job but it turns out to be different than what you thought it would be.
You don’t get the guy.
You don’t even MEET the guy.
You fail the test.
You don’t get the raise.
You get an unexpected bill you can’t pay.
The rent check bounces.
You can never quite make those blasted ends meet.
You have a misunderstanding that grows into something more.

I stood outside with the dog for a while.  I was now a half hour late and knew my friend was wondering what had happened to me on our ten minute ride across town but I had no way to reach her.  I tried texting a few folks from church to see if they might be able to get word to her but they weren’t there.

I thought about giving up.

I could have just unhooked my belt from her collar and hoped she’d find her way home;  I had somewhere to BE after all.

But I thought again of how awful I’d feel if one of my pets went missing. And I realized that this situation that “messed up” MY plans was part of a larger plan, one with details to which I’m not often privy.  There was a reason this dog crossed my path on this busy day and I was being shown exactly why that was. There was no way I was letting this dog go;  not now.  I took a breath and looked at the tags again.  On her collar was a gold plate – with two numbers on it.  I tried the one that was not local, hoping it was a cell but got a voicemail.  I tried the other and a voice answered on the first ring.  “I have your dog, ” I said.  “Oh, God bless you!” the man said.

He did.  On a hot, busy, overscheduled summer Saturday, he did.

P.S.  Lest you think I’m leaving you hanging:  The owner came and met me shortly thereafter.  The dog, Sarah, was a 13-year-old golden mix.  She’d been out in the yard with him while he cut the grass;  he startled a group of deer and she took off after them.  She wasn’t hurt as I had first thought, just old and tired from her adventure.

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