The Little Black Dog             

A Parable


by God's Little Boy
© 2016
Posted 8/4/16



The following is a true story that I witnessed while working on a new home construction site back in 2003. This account has been only slightly embellished for the sake of continuity. As a painting contractor working on this particular construction site, I would take my lunch breaks in my truck. It is from this vantage point that I witnessed this story unfold before me during the course of the construction project. At the time, I did not understand why it stood out so vividly in my sight, or that it would remain with me into future days. But now as I feel compelled to set the account in writing I understand why. At the time of these insignificant events I am certain that I was the only casual day to day observer to whom it made so significant an impression.

It was one of the larger houses that we were working on, a 4400 square foot two story colonial floor plan. All the trades worked together as independent contractors to make it a reality. It was spring of that year and the housing market for new home construction was exploding. The builders were selling houses faster than they could build them. Business was good. My three employees and I, were working on as many as eight homes at a time, all at different stages of completion. At times, I had to work double shifts to remain on schedule. This larger home was out a ways in the country and was quite a challenge to paint, especially with all of the other trades in the way. Among these, were the bricklayers who were the least problematic to our efforts seeing that their work was all outside. But it was the bricklayers that were center stage in this story.

The house was to receive full brick siding all the way around, a large project for such a small work crew, especially when you consider that they had other houses contracted at the same time. The bricklayers were all business, working from early in the morning until late afternoon. One man would mix mortar continually, another man carried bricks from the pallets in the partially excavated front yard to the bricklayers up on the scaffoldings. The workmen were rough and tough characters, some puffing on cigars as they worked continuously with a trowel in their calloused hands.

Early in the project, when the workmen were laboring at ground level, I noticed a little black dog on the construction site. I watched him through the windshield of my truck. He was a friendly little guy, not much to look at, but he was a good natured dog, and he had a good constitution. He was walking amidst the bricklayers wagging his tail and exceedingly happy to be with his new found friends. There was a distant farm across the way, and I was sure that was where he had come from. He would follow the workmen around and get in their way while seeking their affection. Each day at lunch, I watched this continue. He would faithfully return to the site to be with his new friends. The workmen had little time for him, but I do recall seeing a workman stop once or twice to give him a quick pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears.

One day he got under foot again and caused a worker to stumble and spill a load of bricks. Annoyed, the workman clapped his hands at the little black dog to shoo him away. "Get outta here," the workman scolded. The little black dog undaunted, scurried only a short distance and waited for another opportunity to walk among his friends again. Thus far, the little black dog had been permitted into their work zone, but he had not been welcomed into it. I guess the little black dog was somewhat of a nuisance, kind of awkward, and always in the way. The workmen must have reasoned that if they paid him much attention he might become more of a nuisance. I suppose the workman did not intend to be unkind, but the work at hand was far too important and pressing to fritter away valuable time by playing with a puppy. In the weeks that followed I saw the little black dog standing among the workman waiting for their touch, but they just walked past him as they were about their all-important duties.

As time passed, I noticed the little black dog's behavior began to change. He seemed less than excited about his friends. He didn't seem as spunky or enthusiastic as he was at the start. He almost seemed puzzled by the odd behavior of the workmen and their strange treatment of him. He began keeping his distance as if he knew that was what the workmen wanted. After all, they were workmen on an important project and he was only a little black dog. After a few more shouts from the workmen, "look out," "go on," "get out" he withdrew a ways and laid down beneath the shadow of a pellet of bricks and watched the workmen from afar; this he did for many days.

Toward the end of the project as the workmen were finishing up with a reduced skeleton crew, I noticed the little black dog was absent on some occasions. When he would show up on site he seemed like a different dog, more cautious, less trusting, and even a bit skittish. I tried a few times to warm him up with a kind greeting and calling to him, but he wouldn't come to me; he maintained a distance with his ears down. His behavior had become conditioned over time.

As the painter, I was always the last one in the house to make all of the final touch ups before the builder would have the walkthrough with the buyer. I was alone on site racing to finish up at the end of a busy day. I remembered something I needed from the truck. I ran through the kitchen into the laundry room and burst through the door into the garage where the little black dog was loitering. Startled, and convinced that I was chasing after him with ill intent, he bolted from the garage and ran across the front yard. I called to him, "It's OK boy!" "Come on, it's OK!" I guess my gestures of friendship were too little and too late. He continued running down the hill, across the road, over the stone wall, through the field, and back toward the farm.

As I finished the touch ups and loaded all of my tools into the truck, I turned to see the finished project before leaving the job site for good. The house had been successfully completed on time and all of the brick work looked great, but that would be the last time I would ever see the little black dog.

Puppies like people are the same in this way: they were both made for love. If there is any moral to this story it might be this: "If we ignore or mistreat our friends long enough, they will eventually go away." It is always the best time to love - even when it is not easy or convenient to do so. Don't miss the opportunity to love, especially when it is the season for love, and you know it is your highest calling to do so. Love while it is yet day and the opportune time, for the opportunity may not present itself in quite the same way again.






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