Big dogs, trouble, and the Balm of Gilead

March 5, 2015

It was last evening.

“Dad,” she said. “Can I hold the leash?”


“Please,” she said.


Zack, our big-as-a house German Shepherd, has been a little disobedient on his walks lately, chasing the monkeys and whatnot. Liz wouldn’t be able to hold him.

“Zack has given even Mum a hard time lately,” I said. “You won’t be able to hold him.”

“Dad, please. I’ll hold him. I’ll hold the leash tight. Pleeeasse!”

So I did something, as my own father used to say, against my better judgment.

A few seconds later Zack took off after whatever it was that he saw and Liz, holding on like she promised, did a face-plant as hard as you can imagine into the unforgiving dirt road.

There was enough screaming and blood and scrapes and burns for The Children’s Mother to later tend to. It was was quite painful for all concerned.

“Just be honest with me! If it’s going to hurt, then just tell me!” Liz said to Mom while she doctored our young patient.

Yeah, I’m afraid this will hurt a little bit.

Of course Liz didn’t do anything wrong. These things just happen. And I told her this.

It’s better to have a broken arm (she didn’t break her arm) than a broken spirt.

Faithful reader might recall a Spectator piece on this thought right here.

Zack went without supper until very late last night until I finally looked at his long, sad face and caved in.

Yes, in this world you will find trouble. But take heart …


On a brighter note, it’s good not to wait too long to pick up the leash and walk the dog again (so to speak) after you’ve been scraped along the hard road. This was shown a few days ago after Liz won a large trophy after getting up in front of several hundred people to sing a song of that very name, Trouble.

She and two friends, in an interschool You’ve Got Talent sort of competition, went at it against others from several international schools here in Kampala. Liz was on keyboard and sang lead vocals.

It’s not the first time – remember she’s only 11 – that Liz has done this, stood up in front of hundreds to entertain. Last year, you might recall with this post, she was Olivia, the lead character in her school play of that same name about a poor orphan girl who saves the day.

The point is, a week prior to this inter-school talent competition that saw Liz and her trio win their category, she and her two musical friends competed in a similar competition within the ranks of their own school. They didn’t even place. Then this larger honour just a week later.


Speaking of nasty knock-down-and-drag experiences, I have to say if I wasn’t willing to pick up the leash again – it only took me 40 years – we wouldn’t even own a German Shepherd.

My own story unfolded when I was slightly younger than Liz and our also big-as-a-house German Shepherd of that time – his name was Cassidy (this from the days when David Cassidy was still in the Partridge Family) – took off with me holding his leash, because, like Liz, I knew that I was big and strong and could hold on tight enough.

Like Zack, Cassidy knew better and took off after God-knows-what, dragging me a good distance that seemed to me like at least a country mile, on my face and through the snow.

I shared the memory this morning on the daily school-run, which rather excited Jon. Yes, Jon knew this would have been a rather fantastic experience and wished only that he could have also had it.

“Dad! You should have just turned on your back!”

“Yeah, and put my feet up.”

Yes, it’s all quite a ride, parenthood is.


Not to be outdone for recent family news, The Children’s Mother was in Uganda’s largest national daily, The New Vision, yesterday.

This for her ability to hold on in her own way when forces also threaten to drag her over terribly hard places, and which, at times, have done this.

But she’s had a never-let-go commitment to help East Africans with the program Save the Mothers, the successful leadership program that has been envisioned and birthed and operated under her guidance, the one that has brought her into the Order of Canada. (Read about that here.)

For the 10th anniversary of Save the Mothers, Jean and her team and a couple hundred alumni celebrated at a Kampala hotel a few days ago.

Guest speaker was Isaiah Katumwa, a Ugandan jazz maestro, whose mother, a single mother of five, sacrificed everything so she could to see Isaiah become who he now is.

And the quote that rings true for any of us, worldwide? “Every child needs a mother to hold them and defend them: to share in every tear and joy.”

Thank you, Jean, for being that very Balm of Gilead in our family.

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March 5, 2015 • Posted in
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1 thought on “Big dogs, trouble, and the Balm of Gilead”

  1. Good morning:

    Enjoying your posts immensely, definitely can relate to traumas happening to children and grand-kids, no matter how closely they are watched and cared for. Eventually we, as the guardians of their well-being, finally learn that now and again we have to step back and let it happen – usually while holding our breath and peeking through fingers.

    Liz didn’t do anything wrong, but neither did Zack. He was just being a dog, that’s all, following his nature – and he wouldn’t have had any clue why his supper was being delayed: and his ‘misbehaviour’ – easily correctable by time, effort and gentle but firm training by his humans!!!


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