Miles: The Unwilling Sled Dog

Miles: The Unwilling Sled Dog

“Miles” was not a very good dog name. His owner wasn’t literary enough to be thinking about Miles Standish or any other famous Mileses. This dog was a “Heinz 57” mutt. I think they named him Miles because he looked like he’d walked a long way. They got him at the Nashville pound.

Miles suffered through two children too young to understand the meaning of cruelty to animals. Being a pound dog, Miles figured it was those two kids or the gas chamber. So Miles stuck around.

One Christmas there was a freak ice storm. In Nashville, an ice storm is the equivalent of a holiday. People stocked up on food like we were in for the winter. No one could navigate the hills in their southern cars. In our defense, we didn’t have snowplows and salt spreaders like the winter-ready folk up north. We were more spiritual. We figured if God wanted to slow the pace of our life and call us away from work, who were we to resist with scrapers and salt?

Miles and his owners, the Knowles family, joined us on the hill in front of our house for ice sledding. Southerners aren’t very good at sledding. We don’t own sleds. We use plastic storage tubs, garbage can lids, and Glad trash bags. Spare tires and cafeteria trays are also good. Each had his or her own sledding contraption. We formed a human chain. Two kids on a garbage can lid connected to a dad on a trash bag connected to a man carefully tucked on top of a cafeteria tray connected to another family of three on a table leaf. I’m sure we looked like junkyard on ice.

Miles didn’t seem to want to sled, but the kids insisted. He started down the hill in their lap but quickly bailed. The kids refused to let go of the leash. We drug him down the hill with his four southern paws sprawling toward the north, east, south, and west. Miles couldn’t get traction or footing. He went along unwillingly.

Sometimes I’m sure that God is like that. It would be easier to leave us behind. Easier on God. Easier on us. But God seems to insist that all his creatures have the chance to go along. So we do. A human train of junkyard on ice. I loved that dog.

And I love the God who refuses to let go of the leash.

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