So it was with much anticipation, a lot of excitement and deep gladness that I boarded the school bus along with my seventh graders. We were going to camp!!
I'd have to say that this was perhaps my most drama free week at camp as a pastor. Of course, after my first week at camp as a pastor, anything else would be a cake walk. There was a lot of unnecessary excitement that week, including three canoes full of boys from my church tipping over on purpose, and thus losing boating privileges for the rest of the week, and the fallout from that. It was an interesting week and I'm surprised that they let me bring kids the following summer.
But this week went well. My youth got along with each other famously, and made quick friends with the youth from the other churches. The counselors were great fun and did a wonderful job.
There was one thing, however, that made this week different. One of the other pastors and I went out for a walk one morning. We walked along the road for a while before it started to rain and we needed to turn back. As we were walking back, I heard someone approaching us from behind. I turned around to be greeted by a black lab jumping up to greet me. I admit I responded with a not-so-manly yelp. I was not expecting a large black dog to be launching himself at me. My pastor friend responded with a scream herself, saying that she thought she was going to get stabbed.
This dog appeared to be a stray. He was fairly skinny, covered in ticks, and my friend said he had worms (I didn't try and verify her claims). But he was friendly and really just wanted our attention. He followed us back to camp, no matter how much we tried to discourage him. I tried to chase him away, but he was persistent.
As we turned down the camp road, he ran ahead. We knew we had to inform the director that a stray dog was now loose on the property, but when we arrived we saw that one of the counselors had already intercepted the dog and was holding onto him. We apologized profusely, claiming it was our fault that the dog was there as he had followed us. The counselor explained that this wasn't the first time he had been there. Apparently he made quite a habit of coming to camp. The staff had named him Linus and they said he belonged to the house down the street but that it seemed they didn't care for him too well. When he'd show up at camp they would return him, and tie him up in the yard so he could not follow them back. But, inevitably, he'd show up again sometime.
Part of me wanted to take this dog home with me. He was friendly, and it would just take a little bit of work and he'd turn into a great pet. Several people on the staff said that if they were in different situations that they would take the dog in. That when my heartstrings began to get tugged. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could provide a good home for this nice dog.
I consulted all sorts of friends. The reactions were mixed, but most said that I should go for it. This dog needed a new home and they thought I'd be a great guy to provide that home for him. A few friends discouraged it, saying I already had two cats, and that dogs are much more high maintenance than cats. A few others reminded me of the dog I used to own (Frankie the three-legged pit bull) but ended up giving away to another home. I reminded them that Frankie was a special (high needs) case and this dog seemed much different.
So I decided that what I would do was that I would bring Linus home with me if I saw him again that week. If he came back to camp, then he would come home with me. My pastor friend and I were coming up with a plan to get him to the vet should he show up.
But by Friday morning he had not yet returned. We drove by his house a couple times and he was not there. As we ate lunch and then loaded up onto the bus, it was evident that I was going home without a dog. Linus did not make a return to camp that week.
I still think about that dog. I think he has a lot of love to give and would have done well in a house that was receptive that love and had love to return to him. The camp staff has informed me that it's not too late, I could definitely still rescue that poor dog and give him a nice, new home.
So, who knows. Maybe sometime I will plan a rescue mission and get myself a new dog...