November 13, 2017

Too close to the fence

(Caution: graphic pictures are included in this post)

It all started two weeks ago. Our four girls were off at activities and the boys and their friends were jumping on the trampoline and playing in the grass with our dog Sadie. My friend and I were talking as we watched the kids run around in the back yard.

Sadie—as she usually does—began running along the fence line playing with the neighbor’s two German shepherds. An activity I had always encouraged in hopes to get her at least five minutes of exercise each day. She always got a rush of energy when they were running the fence with her. I have always just assumed they were her only friends—and I think she did too.

So for the millionth time—on her own side of the fence—Sadie got a jolt of energy and booked it down the fence line . . . playing their usual game. Prepared to run a race she would never win, be defeated, go back inside and fall asleep on the couch. It was the same every time . . . until that day.

Sadie was only half way down the fence line when all of the sudden she appeared to be stuck on something. At first I didn’t comprehend what was happening, but as I ran towards the commotion—of Teage’s panicked cry and dogs making noises—I could see that the two German shepherds had both stuck their noses between the slats in the fence and were clamped down with their jaws tight on our dog—their bodies still in their own yard. They began to try to pull her—in opposite directions—through the slits between the wrought iron posts.

I knew in that moment she was gone. She wasn’t making a noise—as one of the dogs was pretty much clamping down on her airway—and her eyes were rolled back in her head. But I also knew I wasn’t going to let them destroy her body—any more than it already was—in front of my babies. So I did what any mama bear would do . . . I decided to fight.

In complete shock, Teage and I began punching, kicking, yelling, and crying . . . begging these animals to set her free. To no avail Sadie was still being pulled through two separate openings—she would never fit through—by two different mouths.

I began to scream at the top of my lungs, hoping for anyone around to come and help me set her free so we could give her a proper burial. Soon, a few neighbors came running to the rescue. It took 3 adults and one ten year old punching and kicking for a few minutes to get the other dogs to let her go, and once they did . . . she took a breath.

She was still alive! Mangled, bleeding, and full of holes and shaking with fear—but alive.

The whole left side of her body was covered in blood and teeth marks—some so deep you could see her insides. Sadie got a lot of stitches that night. The doctor in the ER vet clinic said her extra fat saved her life (A lesson we might want to consider this holiday season. “I am eating for my safety!”.) Then—with the help of some miracle worker doctors—she was sent home to recover the very next morning.

For someone who has suffered with PTSD for the past six and half years, I can’t say I didn’t fall into a state of intense fear most of that night.  The “WHY US”—“why my son who already struggles with fear of the unknown” ate at me for the hours I sat waiting. I covered the gamete on victim pity parties in my mind. I quickly went through the grief cycle as I waited in a room for hours, to see if the dog—I bought for my kids as a therapy healing animal—was going to make it.  And I sobbed even harder the next morning when she came home with a heartbeat, but looked like she wished she was dead.


I cried for her pain, for the struggle—I feared—this moment of trauma was going to play in the lives of my already hurting children. I struggled with a belief racked in fear that has tried to haunt me many times before. I do not have the ability to protect them. The evidence had never felt so strong as this scene had played out in the safety of our own property . . . while I stood by.

I know now that those fears that came into my mind—as I thought I was failing yet again— . . . they aren’t true.

So two weeks later I want to share a few things I have learned from a moment of fear.

#1. We are not promised tomorrow. Literally the day before, I said—out loud and on Instagram—how grateful I am for such a perfect dog. I thought in that moment, those words left my lips, that maybe she was God’s way of blessing us for all the hell we have been through. Then—not even 24 hours later—I thought we had lost her forever. Not because of anything we did or did not do . . . but because life is full of bumps in the road and fences we must not walk too close to.

#2. There are going to be “German Shepherds” in our lives. Obviously I am not talking about the breed. There are many of these dogs that have saved lives and been life long companions for people. I am talking about traumatic moments—someone or something coming out of nowhere and tearing you down. Some—we might not ever see coming. Some are merely the voices we hear in our minds—threatening us to just give up. Some are going to be real life bad guys with guns—others might be threats to our marriages, or bullies at school. Whatever our “German Shepherds” have been or will be . . . they are unique to each of us individually. They can either cause us to give up . . . or they can give us a reason to fight—a reason to stand a little taller . . . or for me this week, stand a little more grateful.

#3. Sometimes we might not see the wolves in sheep clothing, and learn through a lot of pain that some don’t want to be the friend we hoped they were. Other times we might gain a friend in someone we thought was out to get us.

#4. Sometimes—just like Daniel in the Bible— we will be thrown into a lion’s den. Sometimes God will calm the lions, and other times He will send a miracle in a different way.  On this day in my backyard . . . I saw hundreds of them.

#5. We cannot walk too close to the fence. There are some things in this world that just make sense. We can clearly see the consequences of walking along the edge of a cliff . . . because we can easily see what can go wrong. But how many situations do we encounter each day that the outcomes are not as clear?

If there is something in your life that you keep taking a risk for—that maybe isn’t really going to be worth it in the end—take a few steps back, it just might save your life.

#6. No matter how hard we work, or how much money we spend to help someone heal—we don’t get to decide how they will receive it. We cannot force them to accept our “love” and our “knowledge” of what is best for them.

Sadie was stitched up from head to toe. She didn’t eat much for days. She hardly moved at all. But once she started healing and those stitches started itching, she decided, one day, to use her back leg to not only dig out her stitches but to reopen the biggest wound she had received from her attack. Blood everywhere again. More pain.

#7. If we want to heal, we can’t keep reopening our wounds. We have to let others do their jobs to help us. We have to let stitches heal before we try to take them out ourselves. Some things do take time. And others  . . . though in the moment seem to feel good to make it hurt again—maybe aren’t worth digging back up.

#8. Some fences are not built well enough to keep the darkness out. But some of the fences and walls—we create for ourselves—are the very things that are not letting the light in.



You guys know my story. There have been other “German Shepherds” . . . and fences that should have been avoided. So today I plead with you—those who have the ability to take a step back. Run. Find fences and company that are worth living for . . . and are not posing as a friend in a safe back yard.

Our relationships, our decisions, our integrity . . . they matter. Don’t walk too close to the fence. Decide now what side you want to be on, and don’t let anyone try to pull you through to the other side—first of all, you don’t fit. Second of all . . . the grass isn’t always greener over there.

And when those “German shepherds” come—and they will come—just don’t forget who you are. It isn’t what we go through, but what we become after the pain that makes all the difference. Yes we may carry scars, and have wounds we are tempted to open up again and again . . . but we can heal.

(Here she is snuggling me while I type)

If you feel like you have been attacked, belittled, humiliated, and the “German shepherds” around you seem to have forgotten your worth, don’t you dare give up. You aren’t broken. You have so much yet to live for. The world still needs you. And as you heal those fears of all the moments you were not shown the love you deserve . . . just remember—you are still enough . . . broken and all. 

Sometimes we trust, and get hurt any way. Doesn’t mean we didn’t do our best. Having faith in a plan, and having that plan fail us does not have to be evidence of our worthlessness, or a reason for us to loose faith in others. For every “dog” that has attacked, there is another that has brought love and companionship. For every plan that has changed and failed, there is a plan that has changed and brought so much success . . . even joy.

We have to be there for each other. God doesn’t send us one another by accident. An animal that was brought to our family to be a therapy dog . . . is now taking her turn teaching us how to be her “therapy people”.  The circle of life doesn’t always have to bring death.

Healing isn’t easy, but it is possible. So Sadie, though I know you will never read this post. Thanks for being strong—for fighting for another day. For reminding me—AGAIN—how I need to make the most of every moment and never take advantage of all I have been given. Also, thanks for showing these kids how to fight—and giving them a new hope that not every attack ends in death.

Today as you assess the fences you walk . . . just remember as wounds heal, the pain does too. If you are holding on to a pain of a wound that has long since healed physically, maybe today it is time to stop digging in a letting it hurt you emotionally or mentally. Ask for the help you need, there are people who can help you stitch it up once and for all. You will see miracles as you pray for grace.

Life is too hard to do it alone. We need each other. And we don’t just need each other’s presence . . . we need each other’s love. Perfectly imperfect love. Don’t walk too close to the fence, but don’t be afraid to make room—on your side—for the people who need you the most.


He never said it would be easy . . . just worth it.

5 comments:

Michelle said...

Poor Sadie! Beautiful analogies created from an awful situation. This is my first time viewing your website... your positivity is so encouraging. God bless you and your precious family! With love from Pennsylvania.

Unknown said...

So many statements you made went straigt to my heart. GOD works through you in so many ways. Thank you for your loving, caring heart and for the desire to help others. May Sadie heal quickly. She is adorable!

Heather Maile said...

Love you guys...so many great analogies here. Praying for healing for all of you from such a traumatic experience.

Ann Smithsonian said...

Sending love and prayers to Sadie. I needed this today. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how badly I needed to hear this!! Sending you air hugs and a big THANK YOU!! My heart is so heavy and it hurts cause my daughters father is an alcoholic and it brings out the mean dog in him. So its heartbreaking and we just cannot be together and ge doesnt even believe in Jesus. I am praying for Him cause only God can!!

Thank You for post!! Sadie God Bless You Sweet Dog!! So happy she is okay!! Thank You again Ashlee!!

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