I don't normally post two blogs in one week, but this is my last blog for the year and it's one that is close to my heart.
When the “polar bears” first came home with us, it was to protect the two Nubian goats we had, from the many predators that boldly approached our house at all times, in all seasons. They were just small bundles of fur at that time, but absolutely fearless and already dedicated to a job they were born to do.
We put them in a small pen along with the goats, who mercilessly pummeled them, not being used to dogs. When the pups would cautiously approach them, the goats would run, fearfully and when cornered, they would bash and abuse the pups. Thankfully, we had done our research and made a small space in the pen where the pups could escape if the goats became too rough. This happened, again and again, but the pups were not discouraged. Instead, they became more determined. They were always gentle and tender with the livestock, making their approach slowly and even laying down exposing their bellies, inviting the animals to come and see their intentions were not for their harm. The tiny warriors would snarl and yip at my Jersey cow when she came too near ‘their’ goats and nothing, large or small was allowed to threaten the ungrateful and ornery goats.
Once I let them all loose in the pasture, the goats would go about their way, grazing and unaware of the watchful eyes of the puppies who were always vigilant of intruders.
In time, the goats stopped fighting them and took their presence for granted. We got a couple of sheep shortly after and the pups had to go through the same routine all over again. The pups would flop onto their backs making themselves completely vulnerable and the sheep would ram them and abuse them, it seems, for sport. In spite of the ill treatment, the puppies continued to guard the lives of this ungrateful group. Eventually things all settled down. It was weaning time at the ranch and the boss always puts about 300 or so calves in the field behind our house where the goats and sheep spend the summer.
Cletus, beside himself with excitement would run from calf to calf, attempting to touch noses with them and indoctrinate them into his care.
They were so excited to have a large group to take care of. When the calves were moved to another large pasture, far away, the pups would make a daily trek to go find them and check on their welfare. They once traveled as far as 6 miles across the ranch to locate them, so dedicated were they.
The pups are full grown dogs now, weighing in at 100 and 120 lbs. They continue to take care of all the animals in their care, chickens, sheep, goats, cows. They have faced off raccoons, coyotes, other dogs, bobcats, cougars, and porcupines (with less than stellar results from the latter varmint mentioned).
They continue to shepherd over and guard our animals, regardless of the response of those who are the beneficiaries of their courage. These dogs willingly risk their lives in defense of those who cannot save themselves. The sheep, when danger presents itself, have learned to follow them to safety and remain there behind the hedge of protection the dogs provide around them as they come between the sheep and the intruder.
I’ve even watched the sheep graze and cud, unaffected and more often than not unaware, of the danger the dogs hold at bay.
For me, it is a daily reminder of He who came to protect and save us. Born without knowledge of Him, into a sin-soaked world where men war against one another over power and greed, where madmen slaughter innocents in schools and in the womb, where men strive to deny His very existence, we have run from God, but all the while He loved and loves us still, enough not to give up. We have mocked Him, rebelled against Him, verbally bashed Him, misjudged Him and taken Him for granted. Still, He chose to come on our account and give His life on our behalf to bridge the gap between the sin saturated and the Holy, because we are defenseless and unable to do it ourselves. To those who have learned to follow Him, we are able to remain at peace, even when surrounded by pain, heartache, by tragedy, death and by the storms of life, as we reside behind the hedge of His protection. He is always gladdened by new members to His flock, yet never draws them by fear or force but by invitation and his unconditional love and dedication to them is eternal.
This Christmas, when you celebrate the babe in the manger, keep your eyes heavenward and remember why He came, because He was born and gave His life, with you in mind.
*shared on Wildcrafting Wednesdays