One Attack Dog, One Prayer, One Harmonica

HarmonicaThe following is a true story . . .

Cutting through a wooded alley on the way home from school, I saw a German Shepard about fifty feet away.  He was about half grown and was watching me.  I love critters of all kinds–dogs, cats, raccoons, snakes–you name it, and I liked them.  Not being sure if the dog was friendly, I thought I would use the nice guy approach, so stooping a bit and patting my knees, I said, “Come here boy!!”  He put his head down and came straight to me.

As I reached out to pet him, he suddenly growled and grabbed my leg just above the knee.  He didn’t just bite and run like most dogs; he stayed there gnawing on my leg.  By the time I beat him off, he had torn my pants, and I was pretty bloody!  I had been chewed on before by a lot of animals trying to catch them for fun, but this time it was pretty painful.  I remember thinking that I was glad he wasn’t a full-grown adult, or things could have been much worse!

Now fast forward about twenty years later, and my wife and I and three little kids are in the early stages of our three-month, three-country, and 15,100-mile road trip in a old VW camper van.  During that trip one of the things we enjoyed was just showing up on the steps of old friends and surprising them.  So on this stop we were around Albany, New York, and were stopping in to see the parents of a college friend.

We pulled onto their property, parking under an ancient old tree for shade.  Their place used to be part of a large farm but now consisted of only a house and barn.  Not seeing any other cars around, I told my wife I would go and see if anyone was home.  Jumping out of the van, I walked over to the back door and knocked.  That’s when I heard a familiar sound, the growling of a German Shepard!  He was a full-grown adult about a hundred feet away.  He looked and acted like a trained attack dog!  I pounded on the door more, and he put his ears back and started growling, barking, baring his teeth, and moving in closer.  Memories flooded my mind of being attacked in the alley as a kid.

I looked back at the van and my wife and figured a plump guy like me couldn’t run fast enough back to the van before he would get me.  There was a lawn chair near me but fighting him off with that while trying to get back to the van didn’t seem promising.  And there was nothing near me to climb up.  I had the keys, so my wife couldn’t drive the van to me.  I started praying, “Lord, I’m in trouble, please help me in Jesus name, Amen!!”

As soon as I said, “Amen,” this thought entered my mind, “Take the harmonica out of your shirt pocket and play it!”  The attack dog started moving in; I jammed the harmonica in my mouth and started banging out a loud rendition of, “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.”  The Shepard stopped, dropped his ears, turned, and loped back into the barn.  I didn’t know if someone in the family there played the harmonica, and he thought I was that person or that my playing was so bad he couldn’t take it and went back into the barn!

Either way, I played my harmonica all the way back to the van, jumped in, and shouted, “Thank you Jesus!!”  And I meant it with all my heart!  Later, I spoke with our college friend about stopping by to see her parents.  The first thing she asked was, “How did you get past the retired police dog!?”  I chuckled, told her the story, and once again thanked Jesus for rescuing me!


Copyright (c) 2009 by William D. (Nick) Nichols

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