Our friends got their son a couple of puppies, and those little guys are adorable! Full of wonder and adventure, those little pups follow each other around everywhere having great daily escapades. They are obviously happiest and extra “tail waggy” when they are with their boy, but whenever he is away, they manage to find ways to have fun and keep themselves occupied.

One day upon his return from school, the boy was devastated when he was greeted by only one wagging tail. He searched and searched, but to no avail — his other puppy was terribly lost. He loved on the puppy that remained and was grateful for him, but the loss of the other puppy kept his shoulders slumped and his head held low.

His family searched, made phone calls, and pondered how this sweet puppy could have been separated from his brother and lost so completely, so quickly. When my teen daughter learned of the dilemma, she set out on a search around the neighborhood … no puppy.

A thought occurred to me that I shared with my friend. For the last week or so, I had noticed a pack of dogs coming and going from my yard; they were hunting dogs — dogs who were rather neglected by their owners and left to fend for themselves.

I suggested that maybe they had happened upon him and hurt him, but that didn’t seem to compute because the other puppy remained unscathed and happily at home. Later that day, my friend set out on yet another search and heard a faint little yelp. Upon further investigation, she located the missing puppy in a small drainage pipe under their long gravel driveway, right there, literally, under their noses. They hadn’t thought to look close by for a puppy who was hiding in fear. The former fluff ball of abundant adorableness looked like a mangled, muddy mess, and his guarded eyes were full of fear and confusion.

I imagined what the previous two days had been like for that puppy. I’m guessing that running off with the “cool pack of dogs” seemed fun at first, but once he understood how rough they were and if, as suspected, they turned on him, he realized his “friends” were not what he bargained for. He got a dose of truth that the allure and illusion of total abandonment from the known — away from the protective arms of his family — leads to despair and isolation.

What caused that puppy to run off with the pack? Was it playful curiosity? Was he protecting his brother, or was he looking for adventure? Was he too trusting? Was he wanting to be a tough dog?

There are various “packs of wild dogs” tugging on the heart of your teen. Your teen could already be trapped in fear and confusion right under your nose, too paralyzed even to yelp for help. Are you looking?

Contemplating the lost puppy and his predicament caused me think of the biblical account of the prodigal son. I think the biggest fears the prodigal son had was facing his mistake, going back to his father, and “yelping” for help.

Your teens will mess up — a lot. Have you made it easy or hard for your teen to come to you and yelp?

May I suggest that you spend some time reading through Luke 15 and take a good look at the father’s attitude toward his prodigal son? May I also suggest you get the book, The Prodigal God by Tim Keller, as he sheds new light on the entire parable?

And yes, both tails are wagging again; assurance and love restored the puppy to his former playful and fun-loving self.