Little Dog, Lost–in the Deep Woods

Last Monday, I headed to the woods behind our house to walk our two dogs. The air was so cold it stung my eyes, but I hadn’t brought my big coat. I didn’t think we’d be gone long.

We entered the three-minute long path.

A huge group of deer startled me.

Clyde, our Lab, ignored them, but little Ellie, our Morkie, went nuts. She took off chasing them like a bullet. Within seconds, the deer were gone.

So was Ellie.

Just like that, she’d disappeared. I called her over and over.

Without warning, everything changed. 

The sky turned slate gray. The wind kicked up, whipping through the bare trees. It started to snow.

I ran home. Put on my coat and gloves. Grabbed my phone.

Outside, the snow fell heavier, swirling, like my thoughts.

My son-in-law’s a police officer who’s training a German shepherd. He and my daughter thought Ellie’d be safer with us.

She’d slept under my arm the night before.

How could I explain what happened? Sorry. I lost your dog. 

Deep in the woods, I screamed her name over and over.

No movement. No sounds. Except for Clyde beside me.

Surely he doesn’t understand the problem. If the deer keep running, we’ll probably never see Ellie again.

Then a tingly-feeling idea came.

What if I ask Clyde for help?

Does he even care that she’s lost? 

“Clyde, where’s Ellie? Go find Ellie!” 

Does he know her name?

Instantly, he dropped his nose to the ground.

He ran in odd patterns, circling trees, with me trying to keep up. I stumbled and hurt my knee, but Clyde kept going.

Twenty minutes later, I had no idea where we were or how to get home.

Everything was the same color. Sky. Trees. Leaves.

The only thing I knew for sure was that Clyde was with me. 

He entered a clearing and stood perfectly still.

He’s not trained for this.

We’re wasting our time. 

From out of nowhere, I saw Ellie creeping toward me. “Oh, baby, there you are!” Humbly, she dropped at my feet. I picked her up. Inhaled her sweet doggy smell. “But now I’m lost.”

Could Clyde help me one more time?

“Clyde, go home.” He turned around and went in the opposite direction.

If you can’t see the 15 second video below, click here.  

He led us to an unfamiliar fence.

If you can’t see the 13 second video below, click here

Standing near the fence, I spotted the green tin roof of our home.

“Thank you, buddy! You knew what you were doing, didn’t you? Sorry I doubted you.”

Poor little hardheaded Ellie.

She’d run herself ragged.

We both had.

Sometimes, when the situation appears hopeless, I forget the Helper never leaves me. Click to tweet.

Have you ever lost your way? Or lost your faith? Or chased after the wrong things?





  1. yikes!!! I can’t think about the life lesson because I’m stuck on Sweetness running after the deer!!! I’m so glad you found her-so thankful that Clyde is a rock star. Will you put a leash on her from now on? Little dogs just have no idea about danger and cars and getting lost…sigh.
    As for me…yes, I’ve been lost before and you helped me find my way home…you and Clyde…rock stars 🙂 xo

  2. Yes, ma’am. A leash. From now on.

    I love you.

    Clyde gets all the credit.

  3. Patricia Martin says:

    I love that story, Julie! What happened to you all reminded me of the parable of the lost sheep that the good Shepard found. Clyde was the Shepard and little Ellie was the sheep.(): so glad you found Ellie!!!(: Blessingsxoxo

    • Yes, Yes, Yes, Patricia! I thought about that too–the one lost sheep.

      Thank you, my friend. Still praying for you this semester. Can’t wait to clap when you finally finish! And You Will!


  4. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, Julie. I loved this. First, so thankful you, Clyde, and Ellie are all okay. Secondly, I could feel the panic in myself rising as I read this.
    When we were on our honeymoon, Don and I went to the flea market in the Aloha Stadium parking lot to find souvenirs,. Everyone said that was the place to go. So far that week, we’d had our share of mishaps and annoyances—lost luggage (well, actually I left it at the car rental), mix-up with the hotel room. By then we were kind of on egg shells. We were looking for a tee shirt for someone and before I knew it, I turned around and he was gone. Now Don Haney is six foot six, so it would seem that losing a man of that stature, particularly your newly married hubby, would not even be possible, but I had. Panic crept up on me to the point of tears,. I whipped out my cell and called him.
    “Darlin, there is no way I would have left this place without you,” he said.
    Well, I felt relief, foolishness, and gushy love all at once.
    It’s the same when I get back into long passages of time in the word. “Do not fear, for I am with you, Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,…” Isaiah 41:10.

    • Annnnnnnnnnnnnna, wow. I can feel it in YOUR heart reading your beautiful response. He’s 6’6″. Yep. Hard to loose a man of that size. 🙂

      Thank you for adding the beautiful Scripture. It fits perfectly.

      So much love, and I’m so, so happy that Don hadn’t gone missing–your big ole teddy bear. 🙂

  5. Atta boy Clyde! A dog’s sense of smell is amazing, and so is their perceptiveness. He knew how to find Ellie and then find his way home. I’m so glad Ellie was safe. What a beautiful story of the bond between dog and dog, and human and dog. It reminds me of a Guideposts story way back many years ago about a cockapoo that got lost, and the neighbor’s pit bull found her and brought her home. Remember that one?

    • No, I don’t know the cockapoo/pit bull story. How neat is that, Peggy!

      And you know what? I thought about you as it was happening. I could hear you in my head—“Why didn’t you put a leash on her?”

      I’m just so very grateful. And honestly, I had no clue that Clyde could possibly understand!


  6. Sometimes in a moment of fear and panic we forget to trust help that is known to be reliable. What a sweet story to look back on, like a guidepost of God’s faithfulness to us.

    • You’re exactly right. It’s smack dab in the middle of panic, when we need Him the most, that we freeze. We forget. He’s right there with us.

      Thank you, Stephanie~~~

      Sounds like you could relate.


  7. Julie, what a great GP story! How cool that Clyde knew what you wanted him to do and he had no problem doing it! I was lost in the woods behind my grandmother’s house once when I was a little girl – following cow trails. Do you know cows don’t walk in straight lines? Anyway, I didn’t have a Clyde to get me out and I wandered until almost dark and came out behind one of her “neighbor’s” houses – which was several miles down the road from where she lived. Thank God He watched over me – He knew where I was all the time (like Clyde).

    • Marilyn! How scary! And no, I had no idea that cows don’t walk in a straight line.

      Sounds like the opening to a good novel.

      I’m so thankful, my friend, that God helped you to safety.

      Big hugs from Georgia tonight.


  8. Julie Gilleand says:

    Wow Julie, you must really live out in the boonies to have a big enough woods to get lost in!! Kudos to Clyde for a job well done!! So glad Ellie is back safe and sound, and all of you! I knew you had a log cabin, but you have a tin roof too?! Oh my goodness, how magnificent that must be during a rain storm! I love the picture of you all chillaxing in front of the fire, all tuckered out from your ordeal. It gave me a chuckle because just yesterday I was telling my office roommate — Leah — how I sometimes take pictures of my feet propped up in front of the TV to send to one of my friends in Texas and she sends hers to me. It’s just goofy, but it makes us feel we are right there with each other sharing whatever it is we’re doing, even from miles away. And there you were with the same kind of picture. I was reading this on my lunch break at work and so just had to show Leah. I explained a little of the background story behind the picture so she’d understand! She got a kick out of it.

    I’ve never gotten lost in the woods before (because I don’t have any!) but one time I did get lost on the road. I know my streets and directions really well, but one time I was giving someone a ride home and it turned out to be in an area of town I’d never ever seen in my life and didn’t even know it existed! After I dropped her off I knew which direction to go but just couldn’t find my way back onto any familiar roads. The more turns I made the more lost I became! I’d never really been lost before. It was a frightening sensation! Nothing looked familiar at all. It was not a good neighborhood, either, plus it was night time, and dark! I felt a panic start rising within me. I didn’t have a Clyde, nor a cell phone, or a GPS, but I remembered that God knew just where I was and how to get me back home. I prayed he’d help me find my way out of that maze and back into familiar territory and would you believe the next turn I made took me almost immediately out to the main road I’d been looking for. I knew my way from there! Kudos also to Ellie who gave you all an adventure to remember (and write about!). I wonder where all her adventure took her! And I hope your knee is okay 🙂

    God bless, Other Julie G 🙂


    • Leafy,

      We live on some wooded acres, like both of our neighbors, which backs up to even more woods. So yes, we’re really backwoods kind of people. 🙂 Did you notice the mud on my knee? I left it when I took the pic so all my bloggy friends could see where I fell down in the chase. 🙂 I’m honored that Leah looked at my feet!

      Yep. That’s exactly how I felt. Panic rising up, although the worst was when I thought I’d lost Ellie. And isn’t it amazing that when you prayed, even then, you were close to the right road. And God never panics. I asked Clyde to help me with such little faith, too.

      Just amazes me–we can’t outrun God. We can’t hide from Him. And we can’t get so lost that He can’t find us.

      Much love, my friend

  9. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Hello, all, from the home our grandson and his parents! I’m enjoying the time l’m getting with them all… Of course!!

  10. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Hello, all, from the home our grandson and his parents! I’m enjoying the time l’m getting with them all… Of course!!

  11. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Hello, all, from the home our grandson and his parents! I’m enjoying the time l’m getting with them all… Of course!! I’m

    As to this blog, praise God for Clyde! Although getting lost can be terrifying, our daughters and I enjoyed that as a fun pastime… believe it or not! Throughout their early years, we’d get lost on purpose, just to see what we could find. Later, when we started house-hunting, we drove on lots of roads we’d never been on before. It was fun to see where they took us.

    One time, we followed a road, turned here and there, having a blast…until I noticed the gas gauge getting much lower than I like. A few more turns and I felt a little panic rising. The current road was named Tapeworm Rd. (Believe it or not!) And suddenly, it came to a dead end without any sign saying it would. Long story short, we somehow made it out, found gas, and returned home. But the next day found us on the road again… this time on Raccoon Hollow!

    And when we finally found the right house for us, it was named Hunkey Hollow Rd.!! Fun times!

    • Cathy, you simply HAVE to use these road names in a novel. They’re priceless!!!!!!! And they sound exactly like where we live, and where I got lost. Maybe not Tapeworm Rd. Yuck.

      What a neat idea–to get lost on purpose!!! That defeats the heck out of fear, doesn’t it, and teaches your children some great truths. Not to panic. To pray. To be on the look-out for adventures. Probably lots more too.

      Enjoy this time with your grandson, my friend!

    • marci says:

      Thanks Cathy for sharing the names of the roads. Interesting and it did make me smile! Yes, I agree with Julie, they would make great names to put in a book. 9–1-1 planned to name our road Happy Hollow which no one wanted, and my daughter, still in high school, came up with a name and went from one end of the road to the other and everyone signed to have the name she came up with instead and 9-1-1 accepted it! Yes, enjoy the time with the new grandbaby!

  12. Your story rings true. I’ve had a very difficult week. God has gently reminded me AGAIN (Our God is so patient) that He is our helper forever. Heavenly peace, ahh!

    • Hugging you from here, Lisa. LOVED talking to you today. We laughed a lot–did you notice that? Even with your difficult week, God has given you the amazing gift of humor.

      So much love~~~~~~

  13. Oh, how many times have I been the lost little Ellie, rushing off to follow another “thing” and soon finding myself lost in the woods of confusion and despair? Beautiful picture! Thank you!

  14. Lost my way? Let me count the ways! And, I am so thankful my heavenly Father is right there to put me on the right path again. Loved watching your video clips, Julie! And, I’m glad everything turned out well! xxoo

    • So glad y’all could relate, Eileen.

      And how many times I thought I HAD to do something my way and ended up boo-booing.

      Thank you for your sweet words. My clips were short and sweet, but I thought they’d help set my scene. 🙂

      Love from Georgia tonight~

  15. marci says:

    Dearest Julie, What an adventure! Life is never ever boring with animals, — I guess not even with small dogs! Who would have thought? Though I have thought for a long time that little dogs really don’t know they are little. All our dogs are big… It’s it wonderful the gifts God gives dogs? The sense of direction, and Clyde to the rescue! They really do have a natural instinct. And I know there is a special place in Heaven for dogs. My dear Julie, it is so touching to me how the Lord uses your writing and timing, to give me what I need when I need it. A ray of sunshine on this day of sadness. Our/ really our daughter’s beloved Remington,.. the pup she is holding in her arms on her website.. died this morning. So this bit about how special these dogs are, meant a lot to me today. I think it is especially hard for a Veterinarian.. to not be able to save one so dear to them.. But your writing also reminded me to give thanks, for all the joy Remington was, and all the talents she had and things she did. The sadness is walking along side of the joy right now. … Oh, one of the women as church shared her copy of The War Room with me, so I got to watch it!
    I will need to come back here later to read more of the comments. For right now just a big thanks to God for this blog and to you. Thank the Lord for dogs like Clyde! God Bless

    • Oh, Marci’a…..

      I’m so very sorry about beautiful Remington. So sorry. I know that hurts. Right now, I’m saying a prayer for your daughter–for all she did and does–that she’ll feel a sense of peace and comfort with her. Not discouragement.

      Let us know what you think about War Room. I have a friend who, after she saw it the first time, played it during the day to hear the prayers. I think you’ll love it.

      Thank you for being such an encourager–to me and to so many others. You have a tender heart, my friend.

      So much love tonight~~to you and yours~

      • marci says:

        Thank you Julie for your sweet words. My daughter has posted something on FB and I am hoping to share it.
        War Room, since it was shared with me, and the person who shared it was also sharing it with some others and then is going to send it to her daughter, I could only squeeze in the time to see it once, and returned it to her the next day during our book study at church. Yes, it would have been nice to have seen it again, but at least I got to see it once. So much truth in it being God’s job and not ours. Amazing how God can untangle things in our lives. And the importance of prayers. Our Study as it happens, is Philip Yancy’s Prayer so seeing the movie fit right in! God works like that! I can see how that movie touches so many, and how wonderful it would be for all of us to have that time in prayer. Love how she shared that with her daughter, even giving her a journal. Thanks for all your care! God Bless

        • I just love HAPPY HOLLOW, Marci’a.

          And only God can untangles our messes–great point. So glad you got to see the movie`~~~

          So much love, my friend.

  16. Monica Morris says:

    Hi Julie! I love this blog! It reminds me of the times I’ve run all around creation searching for Sam – and you know what? When I just stay home and open the back door, he always comes back. Research is being done on how smart our pets really and I’d say your Clyde is quite smart and attuned to his owners. How glad I am that this story had a good ending! And yes, there are have been times when I’ve lost my way, struggled to find my faith …. and when I surrender, when I leave my heart open, Jesus always, always comes back. He’s just a prayer away. Thank you for writing this – I absolutely loved it.

    • Thank you, Monica.

      You made a good point. Sometimes when we sit home (and trust) the answer comes to us. I love that!

      Yeah, I’d never thought of Clyde as being smart, but I’ve changed my mind. He’s one of those Labs who just wants to lay at your feet. I had no idea he could help out in a crisis!!

      And Surrender….this word is life-changing, isn’t it? It’s taken me to my knees so — so– many times.

      Thank you for the kind words.

  17. Patricia Martin says:

    Thank you, Julie!(: Hope you have a blessed day! P. S. have you ever had a guinea pig? I had two and they were totally cute. They really can oink like pigs. ():

    • Hey again, Patricia.

      Yes, our daughters had guinea pigs. They were cute, but I sort of got the eebie–geebies around them. I don’t remember the oinking!!


  18. Have you ever lost your way? Or lost your faith? Or chased after the wrong things?

    Yes to all three of your questions. Still learning, I guess, to trust the Master.

  19. My heart dropped when I read your post title! Oh the sheer terror you had to have felt. We live on a corner, with both a traffic laden street on one side and a main avenue on the other. Whenever a stray dog appears, a massive effort seems to ensue in trying to bring the dog to safety. So amazing that Clyde led you when you needed it! So heartwarming and wow, what a lesson! I think the sheer panic of it all would have left me “lost,” in so many ways. “Losing our way,” seems to be part of the process of “finding” our way, or perhaps remembering our way… ahhh… love this take away- thank you!

    • I know, Vicky! Clyde, sweet Clyde came to my rescue.

      Such wisdom in what you said–losing our way seems to be part of the process of finding our way. Beautiful. Yes. And maybe it’s even necessary.

  20. Jan says:

    I have done some pet-sitting of dogs, and had one or two take off on me. And they were supposed to be on leashes. But I loved to see them run free. I’ve felt that fear! And guilt to boot. Happy ending every time, but prayers and fear and guilt.
    Meanwhile–I never noticed your green metal roof! Love that!

    • Thank you, Jan, for understanding. It was a terrible feeling! Plus, it was all my fault. :/ :/

      Yes, I love our green roof.

      So much love and Happy Easter!

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