The television reality show Survivor recently started a new season with a twist. It's called Survivor: Redemption Island.
The twist is that if a person gets voted off by its tribe then the contestant goes somewhere called Redemption Island, not home. At Redemption the person is pitted against a person that was previously voted off. They battle and the winner gets to stay.
The theme of redemption got me thinking, because I'm doing a little of my own redeeming.
We recently had a sad, malnourished, beat up looking dog show up on our doorstep. This dog was so skinny you could see its ribs. When you ran your hand down its backside all you could feel were bones.
The dog was friendly, but you could tell it had been beaten. When I first spoke with it he cowered. Whoever owned this dog previously did a horrible job. I'm sure it was just dropped off in the countryside and abandoned. Whoever abandoned this dog, I wish I could tell them what they are...which is nothing.
This isn't the first time abandoned dogs have wandered across my family's path. However, this is the first time I've seen a dog so emaciated.
Saving this dog is my chance at redemption.
You see, we took in two dogs a few years ago when Piper was just a year old. One of the dogs disappeared, either stolen or killed. The other one is still around but it cowers around me. And it's all my fault.
You see, this dog used to jump up and down on my daughter, scratching her and making her cry. At first I tried to be firm. But time and time and time again this dog wouldn't listen to me and would constantly play rough with my daughter and make her cry.
My wife would let the dog in and she would run straight for my daughter. Now, this dog had no malice in its heart, it just wanted to play. But after hearing my daughter cry and scream one too many times, I stopped trying to coax the dog not to do that. Instead, I would slap the dog. This did no good. I finally ended up kicking the dog.
I know that's horrible. I feel terrible about it now. But at the time, with my daughter crying and the dog not listening to me or even giving up on trying to jump all over my daughter, I just snapped.
The result is I ruined that damn dog. I haven't laid a hand on it for years but it still cowers every time I come home and look at it. No matter how nice I am to that dog, it will never forget.
So like I said, I feel terrible about it. And now I have a chance to redeem myself.
This new dog is a puppy, too, or at least it's under one year old. We don't let him in the house just yet because he needs a serious bath, but he's broke in a few times already.
He's been beat and starved and I've decided to only talk with him with love in my voice. It's worked. He doesn't cower anymore. He plays a lot and gets along with my other dog, which miraculously has stopped cowering in front of me.
We've been feeding this latest stray regularly now for the past two weeks and he seems to be getting healthier by the day. Soon, I will take him into the vet to get fixed.
While I might have ruined my other dog, I'm determined to fix this new one, and in the process, maybe I can repair the damage I did with the first one. It's my chance at redemption.