Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Duke the Stick Getter February 17, 2009

Filed under: Christianity,devotionals,humor,life — tlmiller82 @ 4:00 pm

        Duke is our wonderful, big black lab.  He is about 11 yrs old and is nearly 90 pounds.  Sometimes though, he can be a frustrating example of stubbornness mixed with stupidity.  You see, Duke’s a “stick getter”, he is a Labrador “retriever” after all.  When he was a puppy this cute aversion to “stick getting” sometimes facilitated negative relationships with our neighbors.  There was the time he brought home a land scape timber.  Our laughter at the sight of a our dog dragging a 2 foot log home was short lived when we noticed the 2 foot gap in the border of the neighbor’s freshly laid flower bed.  Unfortunately this same neighbor had one beautiful rose plant in their front yard.  Not a bush, just one small start of a vine near the base of their lamp post.  Lovingly planted in honor of their new daughter Rose and tended to daily, this plant’s first and only bloom was a joy to watch grow.  The sweet tight bud eventually opened and was a single beauty in their green lawn for many days…that is until Duke brought home a stick.  It wasn’t entirely his fault…the rose had opened as far as it could and the petals were destined to fall off soon, they were barely attached…honestly, the stick barely touched the rose.  The impact was unavoidable.  The petal-less stem, a bright bundle of petals at  its base and Duke less than innocently wagging his tail…this was the start of the stick syndrome.  Duke enjoyed fetching sticks and such as a youngster.   Over the years Duke’s stick getting has taken on a bit of a pattern.    In the morning when he is let out he is compelled to have a stick in his mouth.  (Some folks keep reading material int heir bathrooms, for Duke it seems he must have a stick.)  Once his mission is accomplished he deposits this stick at the front door.   Now that we live near the woods Duke’s stick getting has presented new challenges.  Every windy day creates an overwhelming choice of sticks for Duke.  Sometimes he struggles with which stick to pick up.  His indecision will often lead to him carrying several sticks home.  When the ground is covered with leaves or snow he sometimes can’t find a stick…his futile search prolongs our morning routine as we stand outside in the cold waiting for him to get done so we can have our coffee.  Many times he finds sticks too long which drag across our cars as he passes them in the driveway. 

        These days we try to keep a pre-chosen stick at the front door for him.  This usually reduces the time he requires to be outside.  Each day he picks up the same stick  for his efforts and returns it to its place at the base of the steps when done.  Today was not to be so carefully orchestrated.  The pre-chosen stick was not in it’s place.  In the dark hours of the morning Duke wandered out to locate a replacement and accomplish his task.  I stood outside and allowed my eyes to adjust to the darkness.  I could barely make out the outline of our big black dog in the woods, but I could tell he had indeed found a new stick.  I let myself be fooled into thinking I would soon be letting him, and myself, back into the warm house.  Nope, not Duke, not yet.  I began to call and walk toward him.  By now the sun was starting to glow a bit and I cold see through the trees the cause of his delayed return…a stick.  He dropped what he had found at first because before him was a stick which can best be described as a small tree.  I watched as he struggled to pick up this fallen branch.  Approximately 7ft long with numerous, leaf filled branches extending from it, it was tangled in the underbrush.  Duke tugged and pulled till it was free, but as he walked it soon caught on every bush and tree he attempted to pass.  We live near the woods. there were many other stick options, but he would not be dissuaded.  I called him, offered treats and even scolded and threatened him…nope, today he would bring this mighty tree to the door.  I finally had to go into the woods in my slippers and PJs to assist this stubborn dog of ours.  I knew he would hurt himself trying to bring it home.  I knew he could have chosen a better stick.  I knew if he would just listen to me we could both be inside the warm house and enjoying breakfast.  Duke only knew of his stick, his new big wonderful find.  He was not letting go.  I wonder how long he would have faught with the stick if I had not interviend?  I finally had to break his chosen stick  into a more manageble size.  Once freed from the weight of his own choice he wagged his tail and headed for house.  

           As I write this Duke is sleeping at the door, his morning stick getting adventure/crisis is far from his mind I’m sure, but not from mine.  I was thinking about big sticks in my life.  Like Duke, sometimes I take hold of things that may not be the best for me.   Do I stubbornly hang on to things God is telling me to let go?  Do I think I have something good, when God knows I could have better.  Does God sometimes come into my life and break my sticks to free me from things I don’t even know are holding me back?  I see Duke’s example and I do not want to live my life the most difficult way.  I don’t want God to have to intervene just to get me to follow His will for me.  But I am thankful for a God who gives me grace abundantly.  I have a God who will help me carry my sticks in life.   He forgives me when I choose the wrong sticks and  He will whittle my sticks when needed so I can get home.   Once more I find comfort and strength in IPeter 5:7-11…casting all my worry on Him, because He cares for me…


5 Responses to “Duke the Stick Getter”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I can just see Duke persistently trying to get his new favorite stick to the house. I hope that when God helps us with our sticks that we are as grateful as Duke is and respond as sweetly and lovingly.


  2. Beckie Says:

    I can just picture you traipsing out into the woods in your jammies to graciously help Duke. I’m grateful that our Lord is that merciful with us.


  3. Alison Langmack Says:

    What a precious story especially after the trial of today. Praying for you.


  4. Jim Boler Says:

    We lost our Lab just before Christmas. It wasn’t long before we had a new puppy. His name is Jasper and he is a handful. He’s a sheppard mix and full of energy.

    Your stories are inspiring for me. I engage in a daily struggle to give up all of the control that I never really had and rely on God’s control.

    This one reminds me of a certain teenage boy who was admiring the new girl on the block. You intervened then and helped me with my “stick.” I still have her and I’m very thankful for your intervention.

    I’ll be a regular reader. Keep up the good work.


  5. Georgiana Robinson Says:

    The e mail address i chose tells you how much dogs are loved in this household. When the Miller’s moved in we were delighted to see Duke in the yard guarding the house. Everytime i walked one of our 3 dogs out back we would pass Duke and he would bark & say “hello”…”im here”. We would acknowledge him and go on our merry way. During the first few years he lived here he would bring me “presents”, long sticks, the bigger the better. I swear (as i used to say when a kid, honest to God) once he came up our driveway with a stick (more like a small tree) that was at least 9′ long, balancing it perfectly. apparently he had a lot of practice. My heart sank when Terri told me of his passing. He was a good dog and it was my pleasure to know him. God is keeping him safe & happy with souls that love him.


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