Followers make good teachers

Sometimes I think I’m “all that” and I am!
And then I do idiocy and dig my bicycle out of a two-year storage, plunk on a helmet made for a bigger brain, and pedal like the dickens (because I was going to be late) the 8.5 km to work.
About two km into the stupidity was when I rolled my eyes to the wind and said out loud—in my self-deprecating voice—things that I shall not repeat in public.
My saddle bones were smoldering from bike seat friction, my lungs were on fire, and I’d lost feeling in my right hand from gripping the handle bar too tight.
I may be overzealous sometimes, but I am not a quitter.
About four km into the madness, as I brewed up a new language of expletives, I became aware of an unknown creature running behind me on the country road and spewing loud, guttural huffing noises.
A large black bear with sharp teeth loped its way into my imagination and I knew if I turned around, I would realize my worst fear: I was about to be his breakfast.
Many times I have been in my car on this same road minding my own business when a hairy, matted beast such as this has tromped out of the bush to stop and stare menacingly at me as I drove by.
On that morning, as I listened to the hungry, panting carnivore close in on my apple bottom, I didn’t think I had any energy left to escape.
Never underestimate yourself. Without looking back, I tore off like “Whinny the Race Horse” at the stretch to the finish line and a bag of oats.
Before I knew it, the huffing sound faded and I was far enough ahead to risk looking back. I had my middle finger sign at the ready and was churning up a few choice words as I turned to look over my right shoulder at the loser.
The black thing, and its long tongue flapping madly from side to side, still was running at full speed towards me.
It was my dog, “Cash.”
Never in his life had he left the yard by himself, except to take a pee in the field next to the house. This four-km journey was for him a blind race on faith to stay close to me.
When I’m at home working in the yard, Cash follows me everywhere I go. He braves meat-eating gnats and the summer heat to stay near me. When I am inside the house, he will lay as close to me as the dog rules allow.
Even when I’m in the “loo,” he will move from his spot in another room I’ve been in and into the hallway outside the bathroom.
My initial reaction was anger at the dog for following me on the road. And yet, why should I have been surprised to see him desperately racing to my bike and me that day.
Dogs come into our lives with joy unbounded and teach us the meaning of true devotion. They rest themselves against our souls and make us a part of theirs.
And if someone out there believes a dog has no soul, it is my firm belief they’ve never really loved a dog.
I caught myself in sudden shame after one or two angry shouts to my dog that day because I realized Cash was only doing what was in his heart and the dog rules did not apply to his reasoning about staying close to me.
We (and me included) in our fear of the unknown could take a life lesson from a dog.
“If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.”

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