I never dreamed anything like this would happen.
But it did — several years ago.
At the time, I’d just returned home from interviewing some people about a special dog show involving the Dogue de Bordeaux.
If you saw the movie “Turner and Hooch” with Tom Hanks, you saw this type of dog, also known as a French mastiff.
The big, brown muscular dogs are said to be very loyal and have a history that dates back centuries.
I was excited to write a newspaper story about these dogs.
So after the interview, I went home and started working on it.
I was typing away at the computer in my basement when I heard a familiar sound.
It was our beagle, Jughead.
Beagles are known for their goofy bark, which is called baying. It’s a sound that’s part bark and part howl.
It’s the noise beagles make when they catch the scent of another animal.
Jughead made this noise a lot — when he saw another dog.
Or when he smelled something delicious.
Or for a variety of other reasons.
On this particular day, Jughead was upstairs in our house, making that howl-y bark noise at the back door while I tried to write my story.
I knew Jughead wanted to go outside, but I was busy.
So I hollered upstairs — telling Jughead to hang on and that I’d be there soon.
I just wanted to finish my story and print out a copy.
We had a great computer printer back then. One of my husband’s friends worked at a place where they were buying new printers and he brought us one they weren’t using anymore.
It was such a nice printer — the best one we’d ever had.
Anyway, I finally finished my story, printed out a copy and headed upstairs.
But it was too late.
Poor Jughead had an accident and left a big puddle by the back door.
Some of that puddle was dripping down into a vent.
I hurriedly cleaned up the mess, then followed a trickling sound down into my basement.
When I got downstairs, I was mortified to see where the trickling ended up.
Jughead’s puddle had dripped down the vent and onto the printer where my story was still sitting.
I got a whole new mental picture of yellow journalism.
Quickly, I grabbed my soggy story off of the wet printer. I tried blotting up the liquid on the printer.
I tried using a hair dryer to dry up the mess.
But the printer never worked again.
My husband was not pleased.
I can’t remember if we even had email back then, but I copied my story onto one of those thin, black, square discs and took it to the Tribune to put it in our computer system so it would be ready for the next day.
The vent dried out. My late husband, who was a very gracious man, forgave me—even though we never had another printer as good as that one.
I forgave poor Jughead — who had tried to warn me about his impending (please forgive me, I don’t mean to be gross) bladder splatter.
After that, I tried to respond much more rapidly to Jughead’s requests for assistance.
Why didn’t I heed Jughead’s warning?
I wish I’d done so.
That said, I’m not the first person to not pay attention to a warning.
We can read various stories in the Old Testament where God warned his people against doing things that weren’t accidents, but intentional sins.
And I believe God gave some of his most creative warnings through a prophet named Jeremiah.
Now, God had done so much for a big group of people known as the Israelites. He’d raised up a man named Moses to lead them out of slavery in Egypt. God guided the people and fed them manna in the desert for 40 years. After that time, a man named, Joshua, led them into the land that God had promised their ancestors centuries earlier.
You’d think they’d be a bunch of really happy campers. And they were for a while.
But as time wore on, they forgot about all the wonderful things God had done for them and they started to get really wicked.
Time and again, they’d get into trouble and God would raise up someone to help. They’d get back on track for a while, then start doing the bad stuff all over again.
God kept sending prophets, like a man named Jeremiah, to warn the people.
Our Lord even used what I’d call visual aids to warn the people that they’d face terrible consequences if they didn’t stop their evil and start following him again.
Perhaps the most interesting visual aid was a belt.
In Chapter 13 of the book of Jeremiah, we read where God tells the prophet to buy and wear a linen belt.
Sounds like a nice fashion accessory, right?
Then the Lord tells Jeremiah to hide that belt in a crevice among some rocks. Days later, God has Jeremiah retrieve the belt.
By then, the linen belt is ruined.
In the same way, the Lord says he’d ruin the pride of the really evil (you don’t want to know how bad), idol-worshiping people of Judah and Jerusalem.
God said the wicked people, who refused to listen, would become as useless as that belt.
Then in Jeremiah 27, God tells the prophet to make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on his own neck.
This was to send a message that everyone would become subject to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
I try to imagine Jeremiah walking around with that yoke on his neck.
Talk about standing out in a crowd.
Why would God have Jeremiah do such things to warn the people?
Well, let’s face it, Jeremiah didn’t exactly have a Power Point presentation.
Seriously, though, I think it’s because God really wanted the people to repent.
As the Lord says in Ezekiel 33:11, “... I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live....”
And as it says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Sadly, those ancient-day people didn’t turn from their bad ways.
And they paid the price. They were taken as captives to Babylon.
Yet, God also gave his chosen people hope. In chapter 32, we read about another visual aid. God has Jeremiah buy a field in a place already controlled by Babylonian forces.
Doesn’t sound like the best real estate transaction. Yet by having Jeremiah buy that land, God shows the people that a remnant of them will return to their country and again purchase property and houses.
And through the prophet, God speaks words that still bring comfort to people today.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not harm you, plans you give you hope and a future.”
I love how our God not only tries to warn us and keep us on the right path, but gives us hope during the darkest seasons of our lives.
Our lives won’t be entirely problem-free.
In fact, we can suffer through many trials and tribulations, but by trusting God we can get through those rough situations and experience happier times.
Looking back, I have several good memories of Jughead. I cherish the day we brought him home. He was such a cute puppy. I used to love to watch him run. And I loved how I could always trust him around the kids.
Jughead lived to be about 13 years old — not bad for a beagle. I cried lots of tears when he died, but I’m glad I had the chance to be his friend in the first place.
He taught me a valuable lesson about paying attention when your dog is trying to tell you something, which I try to remember.
Well … maybe except for the other day when my beagle Daisy was trying to get my attention.
You know, there’s something to be said for having a paper-trained dog, who knows how to use a big, super-absorbent puppy pad in a special place — far away from a vent.
Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.