The other evening while I was out shilling for my agency at a township board meeting Fellow Traveler took Cassie and Gertie to the recreational area near Cold Comfort Cottage to run off some steam. Gertie was, for the first time, introduced to the river toward the back of the property.
This river is quite rocky and fast-moving. Even the muscular Cassie sometimes has to work very hard to navigate through it. But she loves it, and as soon as the trio approached the observation/fishing deck Cassie cannonballed into the water.
Miss Gertie wanted badly to jump in too -- but she was afraid. She ran back and forth along the bank, barking in frustration.
This is the great part, Fellow Traveler shares: Cassie swam back to the bank. She showed Gertie a shallow spot where it was easier to get into the water. She positioned herself against the hardest flow of the water, steering Gertie around with her own body in a very intentional way until the younger dog was comfortable swimming, then helped guide her to an accessible point on the opposite bank. They went off on a short romp through the woods. When they returned to the river, Cassie again helped guard Gertie from the strongest of the current as the two made their way back to the deck.
When I heard this story, the first thing that came to mind was Luther's characterization of Christ as our Elder Brother, and our pastor's frequent reference to Christ as the One Who Goes Ahead and Shows Us the Way. Jesus is for us what Cassie the good dog-sister was for young Gertie.