He has two identified weaknesses: dirt and paper. Do not leave a shred of paper around or it will instantaneously become, well...shreds. Napkins, bills, toilet paper right off the roll - it makes no difference, as long as it's some type of paper substance. Never mind the fact that it was a receipt you need to return something to the store. It seems to taste even better if it is, in fact, homework or a bill with attached envelope. (You think the "dog ate my homework" excuse is ridiculous?! Try being the mom sending your Kindergartner's teacher that excuse. No, really.)
Then there's dirt. Virginia red clay, actually, because that's what have here in our "neck of the woods." To our Oompa Loompa the barrenness that we call our "yard" must look like a gold mine and when left on the lead leash outdoors during an unsuspected devilish moment, he is most certainly digging for gold.
That's what happened today. He not only made some major headway on digging his hole to the center of earth, he managed to get red clay caked into every last square inch of his paws AND the better part of the fur covering his legs. All four of them. His golden beard, mouth and snout were now disguised by an orangey-brown color. He was literally breathing out dirt from the nostrils of his over-sized-teddy-bear nose.
He had himself a great time but now he was caught red-handed, uh, red-pawed. Literally. In the crate he must go because in the house he would certainly not be allowed with that kind of dirt. He utterly hates the separation. For this social dog who thrives on being around and with people, the solitude is well-deserved punishment but we'd like to believe eventually it will be motivation enough to break him of this bad habit. But it's not a habit. It's his nature.
After an extended period of time, I went to check on him and he was more than willing to be let out of the crate but he was more excited to see me. He waited by the door for me to let him in. "No, Baxter, you're covered in mud." He must have understood because he laid down in the middle of the garage with the realization he would still not be coming with me.
Yet more time had passed when I went back to check on him. This time he laid with his head literally hiding underneath my car while his reddish orange paws were sticking out. I got a towel and started to clean each paw individually. Dirt everywhere. I took care to go over each paw repeatedly, trying to get as much of the dirt off as possible. He never moved. He also never removed his head from its shameful hiding place under the car. Finally he was clean and able to return inside. He walked sheepishly behind me and laid down practically on top of my feet.
You may think I'm crazy but even as I wiped his paws all I could think about was my patient and loving Heavenly Father and how He deals with me. He knows it's in my nature to dig in the dirt. My sin nature causes me to succumb to the temptations around me knowing full well the separation it will cause me from Him. There's still a hole in the yard and sometimes my choices leave vacancies and scars that I may not be able to fix even after the dirt has been wiped away. Yet He always takes me back, wiping me clean. Removing all the dirt I've unearthed and welcoming me back with open arms.
Bax had been sitting at my feet as I was typing this blog. I don't know when he got up but it wasn't until I was nearly ready to hit "publish" when I realized he was no longer sitting at my feet. I searched upstairs with no sign of him only to make my way downstairs. There it was. A trail of paper! Tiny shreds of slobbery, crumpled bills now strewn across the living room floor. The only thing I can think now is thank goodness for grace and mercy (and online bill pay)!!