Nipping at Your Heels


“Sweat the Small Stuff,” continued…

Dachshund-1Some people are afraid of dogs.

When I was 7 I was one of them.

I got bit by a frothing, rabid, mad, lunatic of a dog known as a dachshund.

Hard to picture?

Remember (those of you rolling on the ground laughing at me right now) I was SEVEN, ok?! We (me and my older brother and sister) were late for dinner so I took the shortcut, running through several backyards and hopping fences Ferris Bueller style.

That’s when it happened. About halfway through the third yard I heard the barking of this insane little, hotdog-shaped tube of terror. Clearly I was the highlight of his day. Few young children ever ventured into his territory and fewer still ran like they were actually afraid. Never mind the fact that I was already running to keep from being late and didn’t even realize there was a dog there. Obviously the little guy wasn’t about to let reality get in the way of his one chance to shine, the scene must have been perceived entirely different by him. I’m sure he felt rather puffed up. For a brief moment he wasn’t the little wiener dog, but rather, Cujo the kid killer!

Are you running from me?

Are YOU running from ME?!!

By the time I heard him I was almost to the fence and didn’t pay him much heed. That is until I jumped for the top and found this particular fence a bit more challenging than the first two.

I backed up and took a running start for the second attempt as Cujo closed in on me.

I made it!…sort of.

The scene looked a whole lot like the upper half of my body was doing a pull up while the lower half was engaged in a high speed bike race. I was peddling up that wall with everything I had but I just wasn’t getting there fast enough.

But then, when it seemed my efforts would finally pay off (one leg over and the other in motion) my remaining leg hit a snag—or rather, a snag hit me. The snag came in the form of a couple of rows of bright white canine chompers biting into my calf.

“Say hello to my little friends!”

AAaaauuuggghhh!!! (<— not a smart reaction if you’re trying to discourage further enthusiasm from a dog!)

“I’ve been bit!

Save yourselves” I shouted to my brother and sister! Not really, but it makes me sound at least a little bit tougher than I was.

Nevertheless, the little bugger bit me and bit me hard. I actually had to shake a leg to get him to drop the 3 feet to the ground. He’d made the super-canine leap of his life to get my retreating leg before it vanished over the wall–his efforts hit pay dirt!

Alas, his moment in the sun was short lived, for within a few seconds I’d dislodged him and made it over the wall. A faint yelp was all I ever heard from him from that day forward. But his bite had a longer lasting affect on me simply because I allowed it too.

You see, I’d always loved dogs, but this episode caused me to reevaluate my estimation of the four legged creatures. Maybe they were not man’s best friends after all. maybe they were hideously evil creatures that acted like your friend until you were at your most vulnerable—then they would go for the throat!

Nah, they’re still man’s best friend.

Today I look back and laugh at how I spent the next year or so of my life afraid of every dog I saw—especially the little ones believe it or not. My experience had taught me that they might have been smaller dogs but they were definitely bigger demons! And boy did they all seem to have something to prove—all with the proverbial chip on their little doggy shoulders. Sort of the dog world’s version of Napoleon! They seem to have a lot to prove. Because of their small stature they seem bent on making more noise and showing more teeth than their larger canine cousins. But are they really a big threat?


When I got home my mother discovered a couple puncture marks and a few drops of blood. A few wipes with a wet paper towel and a bandaid thwarted my anticipated need for an ambulance and a crack medical team prepped and ready for emergency surgery.

Actually, the whole thing was more embarrassing than anything else. Today I’ve learned that simply stopping and looking at most little dogs is enough to make them pee themselves right where they stand. On rare occasions you may need to add a grunt or two, but never anything more. These little fur balls might be small, but they aren’t dumb (for the most part). They know their limitations and a human being of any size that isn’t going to put up with their nonsense is more than a match for any little dog. Do this and it’s game over—every time.

Little dogs are lot like timid believers, a lot like scared Christ followers. And groups of little dogs are a lot like little groups of inward focussed Christians. They want to run with the big dogs but they are too scared. They want to see God do great things in their midst but their faith is too small. They long to do great big things for God, but when they look in the mirror all they see is a little dog, not the God who made them standing right behind them. When they go to battle they think they’re going it alone, they don’t realize the God of the universe is right there with them. And so they live little lives. And while that’s sad enough, sometimes they do something far worse…

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what that is.