When I was very little, we had a dog. His name was Prinz. He was a furry, dopey, silly dog. At around 90 lbs, he was a BIG furry, dopey, silly dog.
When people came over to our house, as they did often, because my parents were young, and hip, and had lots of college students hanging around, they would take one look at our dog, and stop dead in their tracks.
Prinz was a black and tan German Shepherd Dog. A 90 lb GSD. He looked just like the big, bad police dogs that take down criminals and sniff out contraband. He’d stand at the head of the stairs in our split level and glare at anyone standing at the front door.
But to me, he was a big stuffed animal.
I can tell from her face in this photo that she’s talking baby talk to him, as she often did, and called him “Ruffie.” She’s protecting him from my baby fingers that would poke him in the eyes and pull his ears.
Watching TV in our den, my older brother used him as a pillow while he snored and passed toxic gas in his sleep.
The mailman was afraid to deliver to our house, the neighbors claimed he took out their cat, but to us, he was our own personal Snuffleupagus. We didn’t know he was supposed to be scary – he was our baby. One ear up, one ear sideways, unless he was trying to be impressive.
And a sissy at that. When he’d been naughty, as he often was, we would come home from being out to find the kitchen trash up-turned, or the bag of dog food destroyed, or all of Bobby’s Easter candy missing. His tells were so obvious. We knew before we even stepped foot in the house.
He wouldn’t meet us at the door. Wouldn’t meet our eyes. He cowered, in doggy shame, behind the couch.
As if he could hide, and we wouldn’t see what he had done.
My dad’s form of doggy discipline involved swatting his own palm with a newspaper and a firm “Bad dog!” Prinz, the 90lb fraidy-cat, would run for the dining room and stick his enormous head under the curtains, and lay there, gigantic body protruding, but somehow under the assumption that, if he couldn’t see us, then we couldn’t see him.
Sometimes, when life gets too big, I stick my head under the curtains, so to speak, and hide there. As if my friends, and those who care about me, can’t see me. As if they can’t tell I’m hiding.
I stop looking people in the eye when I pass them in the hall. I smile with gritted teeth. I say “Great!” just a little too quickly. Or, I just don’t show up, I cancel plans, and I hide.
Patiently, they wait me out. Silently cheering me on in prayer from the sidelines until I’m ready to face them again.
You might be hiding, but I can still see you. You might be hiding, but I know you’re there, and I know you’re hurting and you don’t want to talk about it, but that’s ok. I can wait until you are.
But just because you won’t look at me doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking for you, and I’m silently cheering you on from the sidelines in prayer.
Just like Prinz, eventually, we all find the wherewithal to pull our head out of the curtains and be seen again.