The Big Bad Bluff– and the Gift of Laban’s Voice


Special Feature Article: By Angela Rockwood

I went to go pick our three boys up from their friend’s house on Wednesday and had a bit of an adventure.  The boys had been airsofting earlier in the afternoon and then without telling me, switched plans to swim and eat pizza at the Taylor’s house late into the evening.  It took some doing, but I finally tracked them down.  I parked in front of the Taylor’s house and called Gabrien’s cellphone to tell him I was there and that he and the rest of the boys needed to come out.  I wasn’t very happy with them.  No answer.  Hmm.  I called again.  No answer.  That was irritating.  I went to the door and rang the bell.  No answer.  Twice more, three times, while still calling Gabrien’s cell.  Could it possibly be that they’d changed plans again?  No answer.  The whole house was silent.   Why do I bother giving my children cellphones??

They were probably all in the back yard.  I went around to the side.  There was a gate!  No lock!  and I could hear big splashing boys!  My lucky day. I opened the gate and marched down the dark alley alongside the house.  I turned the corner to see all the boys in the ward raucously having a good swim– dogs barking excitedly, kids laughing, clowning around, and dunking each other.  No wonder they hadn’t heard me.  At the sight of me, all party stopped, and they scrambled out, dripping guiltily, realizing the lateness of the hour.  I must have looked as irritated as I felt, because they scrambled fast and headed straight for the house, clothes, feet and towels slapping wetly behind them.  I turned on my heel and frostily started back the way I’d come.

Ahead of me, I caught a brief glimpse of a big, black, sleek dog with a stub tail going around the corner of the house into the alley that I’d just come from.  I realized that I’d left the gate open, not wanting to lock myself in by accident, and he was heading right for it. Great.  I didn’t even know the Taylors had a dog or I would have closed the gate after me.  I sighed.  Something about the dog’s body language struck me as odd, but, it didn’t occur to me what it was until it was too late.  His head was down, and in the dark, his shoulders looked bunched up.  In my mind’s eye, I saw him him gleefully bolting for the open gate, tongue lolling as he bounded down the street, never to be seen again.  He headed purposely around the corner, and I thought “Yep.  There he goes. He’s going to get out, and I’m going to have to spend another hour chasing him down the street!”  After chasing boys down all afternoon, that was the last thing I felt like doing.  I marched after the dog with purpose, not running– I was too cranky to run– but definitely with purpose.

I rounded the corner about fifteen paces behind him. I changed my voice into a growly command and throwing it way ahead of me in the dark, demanded in short angry syllables, “Hey! Get away from that gate! Get back here!”  It was a lowish voice that surprised me.  I was still coming at him, with purpose.  I thought, “Wow.  I must be really cranky.  I sure sound and look really cranky.”  He had been sniffing the gate, and the ground just outside the gate, but at my voice, he ducked his head and began heading back toward me.  “Poor dog. I shouldn’t be this irritated, he didn’t even bolt through the gate.  What a good dog. I misjudged him.”  Then, as he trotted stiffly toward me,  I realized something else.  Maybe it was all the years of listening to Daddy’s appraiser dog stories, but something was definitely not right about this scenario.  That was odd.  I thought the dog would just take off through the gate at the first sign of freedom. Well, maybe he thought I was Brother Taylor.  At least I wouldn’t have to chase him down right?  But that feeling of unease was growing, fast.  What was it?

The kids were already through the house and loudly clamoring outside, headed for the van.  Why wasn’t the dog running after them to keep with the fun?  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I knew what it was that had been bothering me, that little niggling voice of truth rose up to the surface, and became dreadfully clear.  This wasn’t a fun type of dog exhibiting fun type body language.  He was a guard type of dog in full protector mode, checking his territory for invaders.  All at once, I realized that I was looking an awful lot like an invader.

In that one crucial moment, the niggling truth gained perfect clarity as it was seared into my brain that indeed this was not a happy dog and further, this was a very big, very sleek, very muscly, VERY UNHAPPY dog, with larger than average teeth. My ruse was up.  I was NOT Brother Taylor.  He must have realized in the dark as he passed me that I was not the authority I was pretending to be.

By this time I was half way through the dark alley, almost to the gate.  Luckily I was already marching through and moving quickly.  I kept right on going.  Almost there.  He passed me, with a hangdog sort of wag, and just as I thought, “Well, maybe he’s just a fun dog after all”  he abruptly halted, pivoted, and turned on me with a snarl. Catching my eyes with his, he exploded in a torrent of slathering, biting, slashing ferocity while the nails of his flailing legs tried to gain some traction as he came rushing at me, nails digging into the cement.

With a megaburst of adrenaline-fed superspeed the Lord only grants to those of his children in extreme mortal danger, I launched past the last few yards to the open gate, with a snarling, frothing, mad-with-rage rottweiler scrambling after me.  I grabbed the gate and pole vaulted with my arms in addition to my flying legs, using it as a shield as I flew through it. His body slammed into the gate, just as it closed and locked behind me.

So, here I am, not a scratch on me, but boy did I get an education about Nephi’s gift of Laban’s voice, and the wisdom of sneaking through the yards of big dogs.

Just another day in the life of a mother, right?

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