A Dog Named Weedthrow

by Kevin on June 23, 2015

My dad and brother showed up at the ranch I was working on in South Texas one Friday for a visit. I tried not to seem overly excited. Cowboys are supposed to be stoic and composed at all times, but due to the incredible heat, my eyes were sweating just a tad when I saw that orange and white pickup cross the cattle guard into the headquarters. Little did I know that three days later, my eyes would be sweating even more profusely, but for vastly different reasons.

I won’t lie, it had been a lonely first ranch job. I was the only one of the five cowboys that spoke English…even my TV, and later my dreams, would come across in high-fedility Español.

I met them at the gate and my heart raced when I saw the surprise they had brought. It was a half grown gray fuzzball that I instantly took to. I named him Woodrow right then and there. Come to find out though, four of the best Mexican cowboys I’ve ever ridden with couldn’t pronounce the name correctly so it morphed into “Weedthrow”…and that’s where it stayed for the rest of the time on the ranch.

Sunday afternoon, Weedthrow and I watched that orange and white pickup once again cross the cattle guard and if it hadn’t been for that dog, it probably would have been the loneliest moment I’ve ever experienced.

The next afternoon, we rode off from headquarters to move some cattle. It was one of those pastures that was too far to ride to, but too short to trailer to. Did you know that you’re not supposed to end a sentence with “to”, but I will if I want to.

As we rode away, I could hear Weedthrow throwing a walleyed fit behind the four foot cinderblock wall that surrounded the old school house where I stayed. I felt bad for leaving him, but I didn’t want him to get lost or hurt. I was profoundly thankful when he stopped barking and crying.

I had mixed emotions when I looked down and saw him trotting alongside my horse. I couldn’t take him back and do my job too, so we both trotted along and enjoyed each other’s company once again.

An hour later, Weedthrow was no where to be found.

I’d had to lope away fast after some cattle that had gone haywire. The last I saw of him he was heading in the direction of one of the other cowboys so I just kept doing my job.

When we had pushed all the cattle through the gate, I asked everyone if they had seen my dog. They all said no and I started getting anxious. I rode back along the way I had come. It wasn’t the shortest way back to headquarters, but I had been on the outside and so I headed back that way in search of my dog.

“Weedthrow!!!!!! Here boy!! Come here, Weedthrow!!!!”

I hollered till my voice had nearly given out. I climbed two windmills and hollered and hollered and hollered. With each passing minute, my heart grew as heavy as the sinking sun that was plunging fast beyond the western horizon. I prayed and prayed that God would let me find my dog, but it seemed as if my only answer was found in the silence of twilight.

I put my horse away back at headquarters in the dark. Both our heads were hung low.

I beat myself up something fierce. My inner-self criticized, ridiculed, second-guessed, blamed, at ostracized me over and over and over. One day…One freaking day alone with my new best friend and I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to keep him safe. I could just imagine him, all alone out there in the darkness, three days removed from the only life he knew and thrust into one that wasn’t his choosing, only to be abandoned at a high lope and left all alone in a place he didn’t know. I sniffed as I wiped away some sweat that fell from my eye.

My spurs jingled. The sound that usually brightened my day now seemed to be for whom the bell tolled. I heard the cowboys sitting on the porch of the bunkhouse, catching the cool breeze that seemed to roll its way across the headquarters. One of them hollered at me and so despite my heavy heart, I walked over to the bunkhouse.

They asked if I had found my dog and I shook my head no. I was thankful for the darkness that hid my true countenance. They all expressed condolences of one form or another. It’s not so much that I understood every word, but you can see sometimes what you cannot understand and feel the body language of sympathetic sorrow. I recounted my steps back to headquarters in broken Spanish, inserting English like wrong notes during a symphony, but they all just nodded their heads and alternated looking at me and into their coffee cups.

Finally, there was an uncomfortable silence and I used it to turn towards the schoolhouse and begin the trek towards the loneliness of the night to come that had already begun to swallow me.

As I closed the sidewalk gate, one of the cowboys said in broken English, a fact that made me feel good because I could see how hard he was trying, “Kevin…don’t have too sad. Weedthrow is a good dog.”

I slowed and said over my shoulder, “Yes, he WAS a good dog.”

“No amigo. Es un buen perro. Y inteligente tambíen.”

I waved an acknowledgment back behind me with a raise of my hand as I mentally translated what he said, “No my friend. He IS a good dog. And smart too.”

My legs seemed to know before I did. I was running towards the schoolhouse now. My spurs were like sleigh bells in summer time as I pounded towards the house. I never slowed when I got to the wall. I cleared with a Bo Duke style jump. My mouth called his given name, “Woodrow?!?!”

On the porch next to his dog bowl, I saw a small head raise up. I made it to the porch before he could make it off. I just held him and told him I was sorry.

As I sat there and held my dog, I looked up and saw four cowboys leaning on the wall with smiles on their faces. One of them told me in Spanish, “He was back before we were. He’s a good dog.”

I didn’t respond. I just held my dog and I felt a tender little lick on my face. Just one…as he dried the sweat that fell from my eyes.

Let the weak say, I am strong. Joel 3:10

I read this verse this morning and at first, I was reminded of Jesus’ words through Paul from 2 Corinthians 12:9 that say, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness.” But the more I read these seven words from Joel, I remembered that God always referred to himself as “I AM”.

When I was looking for Woodrow, I prayed that I would find him. I prayed that I could help him, that I could protect him, that I could care for him, etc… Little did I know that God heard my prayer, but he showed me that it is He who finds. It is He who protects. It is He that cares for all his creatures. We need to finally realize that the power of prayer is not in whom the words come from, but in He who hears the prayer.

It is at your weakest and most humble moment, when you realize that there is nothing you can do, that God shows His true might and answers the most heartfelt prayers. Learn to rely on God’s strength and give up on your own.

It is the bravest of men who lay their weaknesses at the feet of God and receive His power in return.

bravest of men

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