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Never too small, so give it your best shot

Several years ago, God used my dog to teach me a much-needed lesson.

My husband John’s ankle was broken, so I had to take care of the horses. They never wanted to come in from the front pasture. It was June and the grass was lush. They still needed their measure of grain, though, along with a quick check of their hooves with the mud brushed off.

Missy, the matriarch, was the troublemaker. The others might start to come when I called and clapped my hands, but Missy would head them off, herding them back to where they started.

My arthritis made going to get them a literal pain, and besides, I wasn’t as skilled or as quick as John. Missy could elude me for 10 or 15 minutes as I stalked her back and forth across the big field.

“I need a good dog,” I thought that first day, picturing a Sheltie, or the dog in the Sesame Street bit about a “hard-working dog.” The ditty circled in my mind, “I’m a dog, I’m a dog, I’m a hard working dog. I’m a cow dog.” The video showed a mixed breed black and white dog, bigger than a Sheltie, but smaller than a Labrador, running nimbly to and fro, moving a herd of cattle to where his master wanted them.

As I started out the door the next day, my 12-pound Yorkie jumped off John’s lap and stood with his nose at the crack of the screen door. His message was clear.

“Okay, Indy, you can come.”

After scooping grain into the feed tray in each stall, we stood in the middle of the paddock, looking down the gentle hill across two pastures, to where the horses stood under a tree in the north corner. I called and clapped to start the game.

Sure enough, Sass started up, Tigger and Midnight following. Missy stood her ground until the last minute, then came charging over in her beautiful, high-stepping walking horse gait, head and tail held high, to cut them off. They all circled back to the tree.

“I wish Terriers chased horses, not rats,” I sighed. I knew I was putting off the inevitable. My poor knees were going to have to chase Missy down.

“Go get ‘em boy!” I joked, raising my arm to point at the horses. To my amazement, my fearless brown and black ball of fluff took off like a greyhound, ignoring the gates and slipping under the fence boards.

When he got to the horses, he started barking and nipping at their heels. My heart skipped a beat. If they kicked and connected it would be the end of him.

But, they didn’t.

Even Missy gave in.

Soon, they all filed obediently into their stalls to munch grain and wait their turn with the curry comb and hoof pick. I latched each door, then turned to gaze at my wonder dog. He was sitting in the middle of the paddock, looking smug.

Then it hit me: Often, when I feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit to go or do, I sit back down, telling God I’m too old or too inexperienced, or not learned enough.

“I’m just too little, Lord,” I whisper.

But Indy had no such doubts. He headed out, did his best, and served his master well. Surely I can be as intrepid as a 12-pound dog.

Next time the Spirit points his finger and tells me to go, I pray I will slip under the fence and give it my best shot.

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