In The Doghouse

Don’t tell anyone else about this.

I would really be embarrassed if people knew that I did it, so you have to keep quiet.  Okay?

I did it because I was tired of folding blankets.  Really tired of it.  Every night, I pick up the blankets out of the yard from where the black monsters have dragged them.

They know better.

How can I be so sure?

Well, when I head toward the blankets lying on the ground, they jump up and slink over to their house and, with a sad glance back at me, make their way inside to hide.  I used to yell at them for being so stupid as to pull the blankets, the only insulation between their bodies and the cold aluminum floor of their doghouse, out into the cold, sometimes damp, yard.

I don’t yell at them anymore.  It doesn’t do any good.

As I said, I grew tired of folding the damp, dirty blankets and shoving them inside the house every night.  Sometimes twice a night.

I finally bought some wood shavings to take the place of the blankets.  Everybody said I should do it.

“Oh, it’s so easy!  They’ll love it and you won’t have to worry about blankets in the yard.”

A bale of compressed pine shavings was purchased and brought home the other night.  The blankets were removed from the house one last time, by me for a change.  I spread four inches of the dust-free, aromatic bedding on the floor of their house, careful not to leave a single bare spot on the cold metal floor.

They refused to go back into the house.


It was twenty degrees out that night.  For hours, they found a relatively wind-free corner of the yard and snuggled together, shivering.  Oh, they had stuck their noses into the doorway of the house, but evidently aromatic wasn’t what they were hoping for.  There was no way they were going into that strange smelling place.

I called them over to the doorway again and shoved the big guy through the doorway into the house.  His head popped back out instantly and he bowled over the chubby girl as he charged back out.  She couldn’t be enticed at all, but just spread out her legs and refused to budge as I pushed with all my strength.

I didn’t know what to do.  They couldn’t stay out in the cold.  There is a heater in a compartment of their house, which would keep them warm, but it does no good if they remain outside.  I wasn’t worried that they would freeze to death, but they really needed to be inside.

What to do?

There was no way the blankets were going back in.  I’d just have to pick them up again from the yard (this time with a generous portion of the shavings attached) and I wasn’t about to do that.

This is the part you have to keep to yourself.  Promise?

I climbed into the house myself.

You know–to show them that there was nothing to fear.  Yeah, it might have been amusing.  I wasn’t laughing.

I got on my hands and knees and clambered through the doorway into the aromatic pine shavings.  Two wet noses immediately followed.  Just the noses.

It was a few moments later that the big fellow stuck his head through the flap and stared at me in the light of my flashlight (there’s a heater, but I’m not foolish enough to give them a light fixture in there, for crying out loud!).  He didn’t wait long, but pushed his way on in and sat beside me banging his tail back and forth in the ostensibly dust-free bedding (it’s not really dust-free), all the while attempting to wash my face thoroughly with his tongue.  I fended him off as well as I could.

I sat there for another five minutes before the girl would even venture to put her head in.  By the time I finally gave up and climbed out–mostly because I was worried the local police would see the light inside there and stop to investigate–she had deigned to put her front feet and shoulders through the doorway.  I figured it was as much of a victory as I would get and headed for home and a hot shower (I itched the whole night anyway.)

Remember, not a word to anyone about this!  You promised.

I felt foolish.  Still do.  But, when I sneaked my head out the back door of the house a couple of hours later, they both pushed out of the warm interior of their newly furnished house.

I haven’t folded a blanket since.

They haven’t spent any nights in the cold, either.

I’m assuming that I’ve lost all your respect.  The only way it could be worse is if you had actually seen me crawling in and then out again brushing the wood chips from my clothing.

I don’t really care.

The dogs are warm.

Some things you do because you care for those in your keeping.

Often, we have to lead by example.  Even when it’s embarrassing.  And inconvenient.

And demeaning.

Somehow, in my mind, I have a picture of a King who spent a lifetime in a dirty, smelly place simply to show the people in His care how to get out of the cold.

Because that’s what you do for those in your keeping.

Funny.  He doesn’t even want us to keep quiet about it.

Not like me.

You did promise, you know.





“A good example is far better than a good precept.”
(Dwight L Moody ~ American evangelist ~ 1837-1899)


“I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”
(John 13:15 ~ NIV)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “In The Doghouse

  1. I will keep my mouth shut after letting Dad know he has an animal lover. And will go to the length of stooping to the animal side of your human body. Loved what people will do to keep their pets/children comfortable.
    From the BIG BEE to the SNAKE DR.

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