My Tracker Story
The New Year is upon us once again, ready or not. This holiday seems to me the one that provokes the most thought and reflection, which is a good thing really. We all need to assess where we are in our journey of life and make adjustments. For the Christian, this is especially important. Ephesians 5:1-2 reminds us to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The past year has been a great learning year for me in the area of relationships. I’ve learned a lot about myself, others, and especially about how much God loves ME! Some of what I learned was very disappointing as I saw so much selfishness in relationships. I know that I am guilty of it too sometimes, but I just recognized it more, and saw the repercussions many times. Those consequences are painful and the effects are trickle-down. It has made me really think about Love a lot more and how Love as God intended it to be should be evident in our lives ALWAYS, and not just when it’s convenient for us.
God spoke to me about His Love through my dog, Tracker. Yep, this is the Tracker story that I’ve been meaning to put out there. This isn’t exactly how I thought I’d convey it to everyone but as time has passed and I think about it even more, I know without a doubt that the truth that God impressed upon me that night is what is most important about the story.
Tracker is an Australian Shepherd, Blue Heeler mix. He’s not the most attractive dog, but his unusual coat is part of what endears him to me. He’s always been a good dog since we acquired him even though he did jump on people a little too much. Tracker has a humble spirit, if that is possible from a dog. I don’t know how else to describe his demeanor. You could just tell that he was grateful, or maybe I should just say happy, no overjoyed (or all the aforementioned), when he was played with, or if you took the time to pet him. He loves attention!
We moved in May this past year. Getting him into a car and to the new house was an endeavor. Kudos to Shannon, and kids, and her van on this accomplishment! Once at the new house, he wasn’t there long, maybe one full day, and he went missing. The how isn’t important, only that Tracker was gone. We were all pretty devastated. Most of us anyway! Four months later, Labor Day weekend, Natalie and I had left the house to go into town and pick Lindsey up from Bojangles where she was with some friends. We were getting ready to leave when I saw a dog coming across the road angled towards us. I said, “Look at the do. . . THAT’S TRACKER!!” And so, a crazy hour and a half pursuit began. Did I mention crazy. . . . it was crazy, and really seemed much longer than an hour and a half!
As Tracker came prancing across the road into Bojangles parking lot, I opened the car door, and hollered his name. He stopped and looked at me. He didn’t come running to me. He was very apprehensive and I guess didn’t recognize me. He started walking away towards Food Lion. Bojangles is next to Food Lion Grocery store and the parking lots connect. I backed up, and got out and was hollering at him to come to me. He stopped and turned around and just stood there looking at me. He took a couple of steps towards me but when I made a move towards him, he turned to run away. And so this scenario played out with me calling Tracker’s name, him stopping and looking and maybe taking a step or two towards me, and then when I would take a step or two towards him, he would turn around and start walking away.
I drove into Food Lion parking lot following him. I parked the car and got out. I felt like a mad woman, and all I could think about or see was Tracker and KNEW that I HAD to catch him. People were coming and going through the parking lot, Bojangles and Food Lion. Some of them were people that we knew and some were just people that recognized me or the girls, I’m sure. I wonder now, as I think back, what some of them must have been thinking as I was chasing this dog with what had to be a very frantic look and definitely a panicky voice. I couldn’t bear the thought of going home without Tracker with us. The urgency I felt was indescribable. I was so totally focused on catching Tracker. It was a very surreal feeling. Lindsey said more than once, “Mom, people are looking at you,” and “Mom, just get in the car. Forget the dog, and let’s go home.” I didn’t care if people were looking at me, and I didn’t care what they thought. AND, I was definitely not going home without Tracker if I could help it at all!
As the pursuit of Tracker progressed, a couple of friends stopped to help, and even one complete stranger. The stranger, to me, was the most intriguing character in this drama. She stopped her car in the middle of the road, left her car door open and started helping us chase Tracker. At this point Tracker had crossed the road and was making his way through people’s yards now which we were following him through. It’s a wonder someone didn’t come out of their house to see what was going on! The stranger helped for a while, then eventually got back in her car, wished us luck, and drove off. I guess her help baffled me because we WERE complete strangers. She left her car in a dangerous situation and all to help us chase a dog! Was it because she could see how desperate we seemed at this point chasing Tracker?
Other friends produced food from their car as a lure for Tracker, and helped to chase him around dark corners and through bushes. Rob drove by, turned around and came back to help us. Rob stuck with us to the end! I had gone into Food Lion and bought some doggie treats and a leash. Can you believe I bought the last large dog leash in Food Lion? Who knew that was a hot commodity in Food Lion? Finally, with a doggie treat and Natalie’s quick hand, she was able to fasten the leash onto Tracker’s collar. Tracker got kind of wild at this point. He was thrashing around and I didn’t know if we were going to be able to get him in the car without someone or him getting hurt!
There was more than once when we all asked, “Is this dog really Tracker?” His appearance was so mangy looking. His coat was all matted with burrs and I’m not even sure what else but it was pretty disgusting looking. He truly had a crazed look in his eyes. I can’t say that I really blame him though. He’s been on his own, managing only God knows how for FOUR months! It truly was a miracle that we found him, saw him, or he found us!! It wasn’t coincidence. It was a miracle. God knew we would be in town that night and brought Tracker to us. I believe that.
I believe that God pursues us in the same way. As intent and crazy as I was about getting Tracker, God is SO MUCH More than that towards us!! More than I can ever imagine. As I was standing in a yard that night watching Natalie and Mackenzie run through bushes chasing Tracker, I felt a quiet peace settle on me, and God’s voice very plainly say to me, this is how I pursue you. I love you so much that I will chase you down, I will pursue you even when you seem to not know who I am!! Even when you don’t want the safety and comfort that I will give to you!! The reality of God’s Love for me was very real and I felt His presence VERY CLOSE to me. It was an amazing feeling and a very vivid memory for me. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe the whole experience.
With Rob’s awesome help, we got Tracker in the car and brought him home. I spent the next two days cleaning him up and cutting his hair and all the burrs and matted mess that covered him. He was awesome. He just stood there while Natalie helped me clean him up. I think he knew that we were cleaning him up and helping to make him feel better. I guess he knew he was finally home! Isn’t that an amazing example of God’s love for us though? His unfailing, forgiving, relentless love for us! I’m so thankful for Jesus and His great love for me. His willingness to come to this earth as a man and shed his blood to save ME! I hope and pray that you know this Love too. That is my prayer for you this new year.