by Joy Michalicek
In summer, I love to walk the hiking trails near my home. The terrain on the trails is rough—no wood chips, just bare earth and roots. The trails, owned and managed by the Sisters of the Benedictine, are also unlit.
Molly, my dog, is my walking companion. We got Molly by default. She was the littermate of our other dog, Smokey. We found her at the animal shelter when my son had his birthday party there. I did a double take when I saw her because I thought she was Smokey. And when Smokey saw her, he remembered her.
So that is how we wound up with two Black Lab/Springer Spaniel crosses. The two are inseparable, except for walks. Smokey doesn’t like those long walks, so he waits for his sister to get home. He often cries when she leaves, but he’s not sad enough to go on the walk.
Woods play tricks
In trail walking, the woods can play tricks on you, especially when it starts getting dark, which it does sooner in the leafy woods. Every birch tree and pine tree look alike in the dark. And that’s how I wound up in what could have been a real crisis.
Molly and I reached a fork in the trail, and I couldn’t remember which path to take. We were about a mile from home, and I was lost. I started to panic because darkness was setting in, and these woods are known for cougar and wolf sightings.
So, I said a little prayer, “Please, Lord, help me find my way home.” Then I felt a tug on the leash, and Molly led me to one of the trails. Then it hit me – Molly knows the way home. Through the dark, Molly guided us home. She stopped on steep hills so I could catch up. She averted mud puddles so that I wouldn’t step in them. She gingerly led us back to the street. The street lights were starting to turn on.
I looked over at Molly and gave her a big hug. Molly looked at me with her big brown eyes and wagged her tail. God didn’t send Molly into our family only to be Smokey’s playmate. God sent Molly to be my guide out of the woods.
Joy Michalicek serves on Women of the ELCA’s executive board. She is a member of Kenwood Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota.