Snakes and Jello

We had a dog once named Hershey.  She was a mini dashound.  We got her so that our little boys could experience ‘responsibility’. Hershey lived 14 years and during that time taught us a lot more than we ever wanted to know. But the lesson that was the greatest was lived out in the life she chose for herself.

In her defense, I need to tell you that after we got her as a puppy, we began to realize that something was all going wrong. Tony had had many dogs and me a few, and they were all trainable, reasonable, etc. Hershey, on the other hand was nice enough when you were around, but as the years played out, we realized that she was the worst dog we’d ever had, especially when we were gone.

And so we began to ‘check’ into her past. Very soon we found out that (this was in Japan,) her breed had only been in the country for a few years, so that necessitated inbreeding her ancestors in order to meet the demand for such a cute little dog.  We discovered this when looking at her pedigree and realizing that both her paternal and maternal grandmothers were the same dog!  To add to that, she had been ‘puppy milled’ and taken from her mother way too soon, giving her no life skills, such as coping and being secure when she was alone, which was often.

As a result, when we walked out of the door, she went from a lovely dog to what we casually called “Kujo!”  One time she pulled up the good part of a linoleum floor, ripped off a screen door, peed in more places than I can remember, and the list goes on.

And so, pursuant to her lifestyle, Hershey began to lose privileges right and left……….not because we didn’t like her, but because she couldn’t understand or obey the basic rules of the house.  I would like to say it had a happy ending but she unfortunately lived out the last several years of her life confined to the arc of a very short leash if we planned to be away for longer than a few minutes.

Actually a sad story, but….it became a great teaching tool as the kids reached the teenage years and all the exciting newfound freedoms.

Our byword to the kids as they started out the door was,  “Remember Hershey; she could have had it all if she’d just followed the rules”

And so we get to the much anticipated story of the “Thanksgiving murder” by Tony Woods.  I tell you this with some trepidation because after the event it was pointed out that we don’t do such things here in wonderful Australia……but Tony’s from Texas, so here goes:

I was carefully releasing a jello mold of particular anticipation, as it’s one of my annual ‘signature dishes’ for the Thanksgiving table.  We were eagerly hoping to see our 13 family members (4 or whom are actually our Woods family and staunch Americans”), when my phone rang.

I glanced at the caller ID and noticed that it was Tony……….the one I live with and whom I’d seen walking thru the house 5 minutes before.

With an exasperated huff, cradling the phone to my ear with my shoulder while being careful not to drop the mold, I answered, perhaps a bit crankily, “WHAT?”

“Uhh,” my macho man quivered. “Can you bring a shovel out to the garden, I’m holding down a Red Belly Black Snake by the tail and I’m afraid he’s not too happy about it!”

“Ok, but I’ve got to do this Jello thing first!” I countered…… to no answer.

I dropped the phone to the kitchen counter and said to myself, “I can’t believe he CALLED me.”

But then I thought, as I looked at the jello, “Well, a Red Belly Black Snake is, indeed, deadly poisonous, so maybe just this once I should make haste!”  I dropped the mold and headed out….taking time to slip on some flip flops. (It’s summer here, you’ll remember).

As I rounded the corner, there they were, scared Tony and mad snake in the bottom of the garden.  Tony instructed ME to hold the board that was holding the snake down while he positioned himself over the head.  I’ll have to admit, standing there, toes bursting out, just inches from fangs and fury was a bit daunting, maybe even worth a phone call.  All I could think of was the statistic that most snake bites occur in Australia when people are trying to catch or kill them.

As Tony did battle with a most unwilling to die snake, I finally began yelling, “Oh! Oh!  Stop!! That’s so mean!!”  Tony reminded me that a trip to the hospital would be worse than a failed jello mold.

Finally, after the tide of battle seemed to be moving away from the snake, I abandoned the board while Tony continued to make sure he wouldn’t be coming back for revenge. Returning to my jello mold I kept saying, “Poor snake, poor snake”…….

A few hours later we had a lovely dinner, but occasionally I’d think of the snake and say under my breath, “Poor snake”, until the next  morning when Tony reminded me of Hershey.

“It’s the same thing, really,” he mused.   “Hershey could have had it all if she’d have followed a few simple rules.  Same with the snake, I was happy to leave him alone, but he was making his way with blistering speed to the house, and that’s off limits!”

All of our Aussie neighbors agree, “It’s nice to relocate our lovely native animals, but if they’re headed for the house, they just have to be ‘relocated’ to the trash can.

I wonder what a great life we’d have if we just followed the rules that God has put in place.  Rules of contact, of boundaries, and of behavior! He said it Himself in Jeremiah 7:23, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”


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