Saturday, August 18, 2012


About five years ago we were visiting our son Dan and he had a new dog named “Wolf” (as you can tell, Dan gets his creativity from his father). Wolf is a Shibna Inu, commonly referred to as a Japanese bulldog. In addition to his quiet personality, he really looks like a fox. Boots, our Shih Tzu poodle of seven-plus years had recently passed, and Mary Ann was looking for a different kind of dog as a replacement. Wolf seemed like the ideal house pet, so we searched for one in our area. Quickly exhausting local options, we turned to the Internet, expanding our exploration across the county, state and country for Shibna Inu breeders. Finding one in Kansas, we arranged for Jitterbug’s flight to Orlando and she’s been with us ever since.

Well, saying that she’s been with us ever since is a bit of an exaggeration. You see, there have been several escapes where Jitterbug bolted and ran away. I distinctly remember the first escape where she squeezed through a momentary crack in the front doorway. She seemed to almost smile as she pranced in front of us, just out of reach, jumping and yipping with sheer delight as she was just too quick for us. From the front yard, she ran in ever-increasing circles that led her across the street and towards the lake. She drifted so far that I went back to the house and got the car so I could track her. Like early settlers in a new land, she felt compelled to “mark” each and every house within a half-mile radius. Eventually, she tired and returned through the opened gate to the backyard. Needless to say, after cutting off her escape route by closing the gate, we had a little “talk” about her responsibilities to the family and that running away was not in her immediate or long term best interests. Coming back into the house, she collapsed into a heap in the middle of the floor and slept for four hours. Since that initial escape, there have been several other successful breakouts with innumerable failed attempts.

In 2011. Mary Ann was visiting our family in Baltimore while Jitterbug and I were holding down the fort here in central Florida. While our backyard is completely fenced in, there is park right behind our house that fills up each and every Independence Day with families, cookouts, games and fireworks. I put Jitterbug outside to “do her duty” and about fifteen minutes later there was a knock at the door.  It was our neighbor who asked if I was aware that Jitterbug was last seen racing up the hill for parts unknown. I quickly ran outside only to see Jitterbug disappear behind some trees at the top of the hill. Moving as fast as possible, I tried to follow her but she was just too quick and rebellious to catch. I left the gate to the backyard open, hoping that she would find her way home as she normally did. But this day was different. Perhaps it was the distraction of food or fear from loud firework booms. In any event, Jitterbug did not return home. While I was somewhat saddened by the event, I was more concerned about Mary Ann and her strong feelings for Jitterbug. Calling her right away, I explained what happened and she was very certain that Jitterbug would come home on her own. The following morning I carefully looked in the backyard, no Jitterbug. I called all the veterinarian clinics in town and explained what had happened. They were very nice and told me about a web site where Animal Services posted pictures of stray animals. Every day I followed that web site till I saw this picture on Saturday morning. Driving an hour and paying nearly $200 in fees, fines and other costs I returned home with Jitterbug in tow. Again, we had a carefully worded conversation about the “badness” of running away and the “goodness” of staying in the fenced in backyard.

One would think that after such an emotional and traumatic escapade like this that Jitterbug would tap her ruby-red paws together three time and bark, “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!”, but not our Jitterbug.  This morning she once again squirted out a crack in the front door and ran away, circled the house and pranced towards the alluring woods at the top of the hill. You might think that I was getting a bit tired of these momentary escapes, and you’d be right.

As we quietly, yet quickly moved to cut off her escape route, I wondered what went through her small, pea-sized brain. Did she think about running away? Was it just instinctive? Did she do it just to spite me? And then I wondered about my own “escapes” where I repeated prior mistakes in action and judgment. Why did I do what was wrong, even though I knew what was right? I seemed destined to repeat myself, even after being “found” and restored. I know the good that I should do, but I keep choosing and doing the wrong [1].

I don’t think I’m any different than anyone else. We all want to do what’s right but we lack the power and desire to fulfill that promise. We choose against what we know to be right, hurting ourselves and others in the process. I’ve tried lots of different things to get more power in order to choose right. I’ve also looked for ways to deaden the pain and hurt of guilt and shame. Whenever it was dependent on me, I failed. It’s like jumping off the roof (which I’ve done), there is 100% chance that the sudden stop is going to hurt.

The only possible solution is one that does not depend on me. That’s why Jesus Christ came, to take our place, pain and punishment for all our offenses towards God [2]. There is no one else in all of history that claimed to be God, creator, savior, way, truth, life and way to God the Father.

When we run away from God, the only one that can give us true meaning, purpose, addressing any question about life we might have, not only does he provide a way for us, he runs after us and reunites us back with himself [3]. When we try and escape, he faithfully looks after us, taking care of us and even pays our debt, setting us free to love and worship him.

Now that’s a God worth loving and serving…no escaping that.

Blessings – Chet

Chet Gladkowski writes on topics that touch life, culture and faith.

[1] Romans 7:19 – For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
[2] Romans 7:24,25 – What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
[3] Luke 15:20 – But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

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