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  • Maybe some girls find the damsel-in-distress persona attractive, but not this girl. If there is anything I hate, it is needing or appearing to need rescuing. However, after a few uncomfortable encounters with strangers, I realized something needed to change. Refusing to be rescued or babysat or anything that involved tag-alongs, I opted for a guard dog, instead. Through a private shelter, I found an ex-prison guard dog looking for a home…looking for a rescuer.

    “Perfect,” I thought, mostly because I was taking care of the situation myself (as I like to do concerning most everything), while also giving a deserving dog a home.

    The truth and the irony of the matter is that I was, indeed, still rescued. Contrary to his former prison duties, Gabriel rescued me from bondage; he brought freedom. Freedom to sleep soundly, freedom to take a midnight swim, freedom to check on the horses at 3am, freedom to be alone, freedom to take a long walk under the stars, freedom to sleep with my windows open. Until Gabriel had arrived, I did not have those liberties. On his second day with me, I named him Gabriel, for he was certainly God-sent.

    This past weekend, we took a summer trip to my grandparents’ cabin in the great Northern Woods of Michigan. There really is no place like those woods—which border Lake Huron—or the spiced air that comes from the dense proximity to fir and pine trees. I expect the woods—the great outdoors, in general—appear quite overwhelming to an ex-prison dog. Before long, though, Gabriel was bounding down the trails, jumping over fallen logs, and making me envious of the way he navigated through such dense forestation, which, with my Cherokee blood and careful footsteps, I had once thought I handled quite well. Not compared to Gabriel; he went like a panther, but remained as loyal as…well, a dog.

    In fact, I got lost at least...twice…in those woods, and when I asked Gabriel to “go home,” Gabriel indeed went home. I am not sure what I was most proud of: the fact that he understood my request (and rescued me, yet again) or that, after less than 24 hours there (and barely two weeks with me, total), he thought of that cozy old wonderful log cabin as home, too.

    On our last night, we walked down to the lake, and as I knelt on a rock along the shore to give thanks for the paradise in which I found myself, I smiled, for I saw Gabriel doing the same thing.
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