Day 20: Dudley

Dr. Ray Pritchard

When I started this Lenten blog series, I knew that sooner or later I would write this entry. I knew it because Dudley, our three-year-old basset hound, has taught me so many good lessons.

It is late at night as I write these words, and things are quiet in my corner of the world. I’m the only one awake at this hour. Marlene is asleep in our bedroom. And in my office I have two basset hounds sleeping nearby. Behind me Gary has stretched out in front of the bookcase. And Dudley, well, Dudley is asleep at my feet. He has curled up in the well where my chair goes when I slide it under my desk. 

It’s been this way since we got him when he was only five weeks old. Early on we saw it when we lived at the cabin. He wanted to be wherever we were. If I went outside, he followed me outside. If I took a walk on the gravel road, he would run alongside me, darting off now and then to play in the woods, always looking around to make sure he could still find me. When he got older, he would run farther into the woods to chase something or other. Sometimes I would keep walking just to see what would happen. As soon as he came back to the road, he would look for me, and then he would come running, his short legs churning and his long ears flopping. When he caught up with me, he wouldn’t stop. He just zipped on by, as if to say, “I know where you are.” No matter how far he roamed, he always came back to find me.

Now that we live in town, Dudley contents himself to follow me from room to room. Even though he weighs 55 pounds, he thinks he’s a lap dog so when I’m on the couch, he’ll jump up and sit on my lap. Not everyone likes that as much as I do.

When I am working in my office, he and Gary will faithfully follow me into the office. Mostly they just plop down and wait. Sometime they put their chins on the windowsill and look outside. If I leave, the “boys” will follow me into the living room.

But Dudley does something Gary doesn’t do. When he knows I’m going to my office (I don’t know how he knows this but he does), he will go ahead of me and curl up in the well so he can be at my feet while I work. 

It has been remarked by someone who also loves Gary and Dudley that bassets can be troublesome. They shed all the time, they drool, they smell like hound dogs (which they are), and sometimes they howl. All true, I have to admit. Sometimes when I lay down on the couch, Dudley joins me and curls up behind my legs. That’s very comforting on a cold winter afternoon. 

A popular worship chorus says, “I just want to be where you are, dwelling daily in your presence.” It ends with these words: “I just want to be (I just want to be), I just want to be (I wanna be) with You.” Though the sentiment is very biblical (it could be found in many of the psalms), I never could connect with it very well. Sometimes my life seems more like this old refrain, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.”

As I type these words, Dudley is asleep at my feet. No one has to tell him, “Spend time with your master.” He does it because he wants to. He honors me not simply by being in my presence, but by being so eager, day after day, to see me. Who wouldn’t love a dog like that?

Oh, to have that kind of heart, to love my Master the way he loves his. 

Lord, replace my wandering spirit with a heart that wants nothing more than to be in your presence. Amen.

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