While running, I try to stay aware of my surroundings. Even though I run with earbuds in, I keep the sound down and continually scan the area around me and up ahead. This practice helps me avoid collisions with traffic, bicycles, other runners and stray dogs. You can never be too careful.
Even with these efforts, I was once accosted by a five-pound fur-ball named Skip. His owner was a contractor working on a house along my route. Skip escaped out the front door, and gave a short chase before attempting to latch onto my foot. I was saved by a lucky combination of his tiny mouth/teeth and my thick shoe. It was far more funny than fear inducing! But, this episode did fuel my slight paranoia about dogs when I run.
There are several yards along my route which are lined with chain-link fencing and contain one or two large dogs. Every time, before I pass, I survey them, looking for any damage or opening through which the dogs might escape. I also try not to provoke the dogs…hard to do since my mere presence is reason to charge the fence…but I never get eye contact and always hurry past. No big deal, just a matter of being cautious.
SOOooooo, this is why, when I came upon a guy washing his car in his driveway I slowed my approach. He was accompanied by two large black Labs off leash. They did not look aggressive, but out of courtesy that my jogging by might cause them to want to chase me, I took out my earbud and shouted, “Are your dogs okay with me jogging past?” He looked a bit confused at first, but then he called one his dogs over to his side and waved at me to pass.
As I passed him, I kept my eye on his other dog on the other side of a large bush beside his driveway…and it was a good thing I did!
The “other” dog I had seen was actually a large concrete statue of a big black dog! No wonder the guy looked so confused.
You will be happy to know, I had NO problem out running the scary black dog statue and I made it home safe and sound.
This harrowing event took place almost a month ago, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. I let a decidedly “unreal” dog cause me to worry. I felt silly afterward.
I think there is a difference between being situationally aware of things that may impact your life and taking them on as a worrisome burden. I am certain I am not alone in my struggle with this very thing.
Sometimes my mind races, usually late at night, with all the “what ifs” that are on my horizon. I spend a lot of emotional effort working through how I will deal with something. I look ahead and allow myself to get overwhelmed about the future. And like my concrete dog, what is beyond my natural vision can easily be distorted.
As I think of my concrete dog, I am amazed at how easily I am fooled into a fearful heart. How often do I live my life as if my God NEVER does anything! That is NOT the case at all. I have a God Who feeds the birds of the air, clothes the lilies in the fields, and knows my EVERY need. (Matthew 6:26-32)
I am not meant to ignore what needs tending to in my life, but I need to remember what God has called me to be about. There is much greater clarity and focus when I seek Him each day and take on only what He has for me and when.
I think this is a good time to stop running from concrete dogs.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matthew 6:33&34)