Monday, December 20, 2010

What I Get in the Mail

Years ago when I started the kennel, the mailman commented, "all your mail has to do with God or dogs." Why yes, yes it does. Christmas is no exception. Among the Christmas cards I receive, many are pictures of dog owners who bring their dog to Good Shepherd Boarding Kennel. Of course the dogs are in the pictures too.

My dogs find Christmas awkward. Maybe it's the apparel.

I don't send out cards, not just because my dogs won't pose. However, I do love to receive them. It's fun to look at the pictures and be remembered (I won't go into the Christmas letters, because I always think of David Sedaris).

I've thought of sending out cards just because I have the perfect picture for them:

That's me on the right.

Do you like getting Christmas cards? What about pictures? Letters? Will your dog wear a Santa hat?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby's Bad Dream-Fiction

With all the commotion around the apartment with Edie's packing, Nathan Alan Willoughby was not enjoying as much rest as he liked. Normally, he could stretch out on his back, feeling safe and secure, with his legs and arms askew. It was an indication that all was right with the world. Edie provided him security that he didn't know when he was a stray living in a dumpster. Even the Westwood Rescue for Good Cats wasn't the most relaxing place. With Edie, he was experiencing the true sense of "home.

The boxes were upsetting. Personal items, things that never moved, were now out of place. It unsettled the large cat.

His sleep was less than peaceful. His dreams were plagued with disturbing images.

Sleeping brought twitching and mews. Edie noticed. She woke him up and stroke his fur. Nathan Alan Willoughby woke, and again realized that Edie was safe and loved him. Even when all else failed to make him feel that the world was normal, Edie was with him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finding Our Home

This is my cat Carbon (hi Carbon! get off my puzzle Carbon!).

Carbon was dropped off at my house about five years ago. It was a cold morning and I heard the high pitched mew and went outside to investigate. Responding to the internationally known call of "here kitty-kitty-kitty," a gray puffball bounded across the yard to me. Apparently, she knew I was a sucker for strays.

I scooped up the kitten and noticed it was covered with fleas and filth. She also had ringworm, which I later contracted as well as Foster. Shivering and cold, I gave her a quick warm bath at the sink. She was so tiny, she fit in the palm of my hand. Despite the reputation of cats and running water, she didn't fight it at all. In fact, she began to purr as she looked up at me. She relaxed when I held her in a warm towel. It was like she knew she was safe, and that the bath was getting rid of all the bad stuff that made her life miserable and uncomfortable.

Isn't it great that our Lord is also a sucker for strays? We fit the description - lost, away from home, and covered in filth. Running to God is the best decision we could make. While coming clean with our shortcomings and sinful behavior isn't pleasant, it's a tremendous relief.

Once Carbon's flea and ringworm condition cleared up, she moved from the kennel into my house. When she isn't busy hunting for frogs around the pond, she sleeps on the couch. She was such an unattractive mass of grayness when she arrived here. Now, she's a beautiful cat with a coat like sable.

She's found a home.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Longing for Home

This is Buddy the Dalmation (hi Buddy!). Yes, he's blurry, but this is the side of Buddy I see more and more when he visits the kennel.

Buddy wants to go home.

While it's fairly normal for dogs to go to the door a couple times when they are away from home, Buddy's persistence is new. He's been coming here for years and always done quite well at the kennel.

Then this Summer, Buddy got beat up by some mean dogs in his neighborhood. Buddy is completely docile and nice, so when I heard he was seriously injured by some strays who ambushed him in his own yard, it was extremely distressing. As a result, Buddy is afraid of other dogs and is uncomfortable when he's at the kennel. He wants to be home, with his people, away from the unfamiliar dogs who he is no longer interested in getting to know.

Being away from home is hard. "Home" might look different for every person, but the bottom line is home is where you feel safe and are loved. If we get "beat up" by coworkers, friends, neighbors, the check out woman with the bad attitude, we get worn out. We don't really want to get to know other people to see if they are trustworthy or not. We just want to be home.

The heart of God is the ultimate safe place for us. There, we are fully and perfectly loved. But we aren't home yet. We need to be away from that true comfort and spend time with "other dogs" as we live our lives.

The last two days, I enjoyed being snowed in and not going anywhere. This morning, however, I realized that when I don't go anywhere or interact with other people, I miss something very important - I miss how God is working in and through other people. That's a glimpse of Home. And I don't want to miss that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's All Your Fault!

Today is a snow day in Northwest Ohio. Schools are closed, there's little traffic on the roads, and the windchill is below zero. And it's all my fault.

Just ask Dooley.

No matter what door the cats go out, they realize it's too cold for them. I've spent a lot of time opening and closing the doors while cats wrestle with indecision and weather conditions. Finally, I made an executive decision that they were in for the day, no exceptions. This has been a controversial stance. They meow insistently, look at me plaintively, then growl and stomp off (really).

Since I'm human and understand (sort of) weather patterns and the dangers of exposure to wind chill (first hand), I'm risking being unpopular for their safety and best interests. In other words, I know better than these silly little cats.

Yet how many times do I insist to God that I be allowed to do something? I'll pray plaintively for what I want. I've even been known to stomp off in a huff when I don't get my way. Could it be that God understands the workings of the universe better than I do? Do I believe God has my best interest at heart?

I don't know about you, but I sure don't act like God's ways are better than mine. I believe it. I just don't act like it. Instead, I act like a silly cat, running from door to door, tapping the knob and looking over my shoulder for that door to be opened. When it doesn't, I growl and grumble.

What about you? Are you staring at an unopened door with a bit of an attitude problem (your attitude, not the door's)? What will you do today to stop acting like a three year old?

(Happy Birthday Julie! Who is more than three years old - and generally acts like it).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Searches for Answers

"We're moving," Edie said to her large cat. Nathan Alan Willoughby was getting used to hearing the phrase, but didn't understand what it meant. Perhaps it had something to do with the large cardboard boxes Edie brought home from work several times a week.

Nathan Alan Willoughby's association with cardboard boxes prior to this was boxes in a dumpster which contained cold, half eaten pizza and the box he'd been stuffed in at the Westwood Rescue for Good Cats upon his adoption. Boxes, at best, were a mixed bag (so to speak). What did these boxes mean?

Most of the time, the cat inspected each box carefully by jumping in it. Sometimes, a piece of paper or a few packing peanuts would be at the bottom. Those were the best boxes because they were fun. Other boxes were perfect for napping.

One day when Edie came home from work, Nathan Alan Willoughby was nowhere to be found. She called for him by name, as well as the universal, "here kitty-kitty-kitty" but received no answer. She dashed from box to box, looking for him. Nothing. She checked in the bathroom, since he liked to nap in there on cold days, but he wasn't to be found there either. She called him again.

"Mow-wow-wow-wow," a panicked meow finally answered her. "Where are you?" Edie cried. "Mow-wow-wow-wow." This was not his normal meow. Edie followed the pleas through her echoing apartment, finally looking under the couch.

"Mow-wow-wow-wow," Nathan Alan Willoughby's eyes were as big as moons. They faced each other, but still the cat would not come out. Finally, Edie grabbed him by the nape and pulled him out from under the couch. Then, she began giggling at the frightened cat. Static electricity still bristled from his fur, which was completely covered in packing peanuts. Obviously, one of the boxes held an unpleasant surprise for the large cat.

Edie picked the styrofoam off this fur, putting in a plastic bag where it couldn't scare him further. "Don't worry, we'll be done with these evil boxes before you know it." Nathan Alan Willoughby's breathing finally calmed, and after the last peanut was removed, he purred and bumped Edie's hand with his head.

Moving was not a concept easily understood by a cat. Sometimes the need to move isn't easily understood by people. However, Nathan Alan Willoughby had learned that Edie was someone he could trust. No matter what the boxes meant, it seemed like it was going to be okay. Eventually.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding a Home

Meet Dooley (hi Dooley!). This week, Dooley went from the local dog pound (where he spent a month) to a very good home. He looks happy, doesn't he?

Dooley had been with a family before he was given up to the pound. Dooley probably knew what he was missing when he suddenly went from warm couch to cold cement floors. In just a day at his new home, he's becoming reacquainted with a couch (and even sneaking up on the bed).

When you've grown up with some good things in your life - whether it was a solid family or good study habits - they can be taken for granted. If you lose any of those people or things, you feel the loss keenly. If you never had those positive experiences or relationships, you don't know what you're missing.

Or do you?

Most people live with longing for something. Sometimes we long for a relationship, a job, or sitting with the cool kids at the lunch table. I'm addicted to shows about addictions. It's true. But I've learned a lot from them and how each of us has the need for something greater than ourselves. That can get turned around to constantly looking inside instead of outside for those needs to be met. And often it turns into addictions to very unhealthy substances or relationships.

In our efforts to be reasonable and self-sufficient, we don't want to admit how much God can be that greater relationship. It is surely a feat of the supernatural that an invisible yet almighty God fills the gaps. That happens when we admit it, then seek it out (while some theology may say it's the other way around, I'm not going to argue that here). God is just there, waiting for us to make our "home" with him.

Dooley is relaxing and getting more comfortable in his new digs and hanging with his new people. He even chased a dog across the street out of "his" yard and back into that dog's own yard. I think he likes his new home.

Have you ever adopted a dog from a pound? Do you ever settle for "lesser gods" that are more convenient and visible than seeking what is more difficult but ultimately more satisfying?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living Outside Your Comfort Zone

Here's our St. Bernard friends, Sandy and Brandy (hi girls!). These dogs love the snow and even the cold weather.

As usual in Ohio, we went from a day of sixty degree temperatures to six degrees wind chill within about twenty-four hours. It's been cold and snowy. Obviously, this is perfect weather if you're a hearty dog.

There's much to be said for enjoying your surroundings. Sometimes, though, that is not possible. Our circumstances might be too much for us to take or we just hate the cold weather.

What are the choices? Run away? Move? Is it possible that our tough situation might shape us for the better? If we put our faces toward the wind and let the horizontal snow hit our faces, could this strengthen us?

No matter what you might be facing right now, look for how it can gird you up instead of how it is tearing you down.

One thing that amazes me about Ohio is the tulip and crocus that emerge from the ground each spring, after the thaw. When it's so frozen, it doesn't seem possible. This can be true for your circumstances right now too.

How will you cope with winter? Are you heading south? Can you look to the Creator of winter and recognize spring will indeed return? What's your favorite warm weather destination?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Prone to Wander

This is Kody (hi Kody!). Kody has a very bad habit - darting out the door and wandering the neighborhood.

One day I was driving in town and noticed Kody out exploring. What struck me was he was obviously on a mission. I pulled into a driveway, rolled down the window, and called him. He looked at me, surprised I knew his name. However, he avoided me and kept going on his path. Since he was headed in the direction of his home, I decided to let him go.

The next time I talked to his owners, I learned this is what Kody does at every opportunity. He loves to be on his own.

Can you relate to Kody's independence? I sure can. However, if I'm not careful, I easily find myself wandering aimlessly and unwisely.

I worried Kody would get hit by a car or someone would try to take him. There are many hazards to us if we leave the One who loves and protects us as well.

What tempts you to leave the safety of your home or the one who loves you the most? Is it ever worth the risks? What steps can you take to stay true to God's word?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Dreams a Better Dream - Fiction

Before Edie adopted Nathan Alan Willoughby from the Westwood Rescue Home for Good Cats, he was an outside cat. While relying on the pizza dumpster for food was a better situation than some stray cats experienced, it wasn't as good as eating with Edie every night and every morning. Cats enjoy predictable, repetitive routine, and Nathan Alan Willoughby was no exception.

While Edie's little episode and break down seemed to be a one time incident, there was still an unsettled feeling in the apartment. Nathan Alan Willoughby did not like that. Edie returned from work, but there was no zip in her step. She patted his head absently before slumping before her computer. It made him sad.

He took up his post at the window and watched the activity on the street below. There was one thing he certainly missed and that was being outside. Fresh air, even the air of a busy street and neighborhood, was invigorating. There was always something new to explore. Sometimes Nathan Alan Willoughby watched other cats scurry on the street below, having some adventure. One day, a man through a rock at a cat, and then Nathan Alan Willoughby remembered that maybe being outside wasn't so great.

Edie kept her routine of sitting on the couch with her large black and white cat next to her. The cat purred, and she watched television. He sat next to her, kneading the side of her leg with his paws. Edie sighed, "This isn't how it's supposed to be, you know." She scratched behind his ears, "There's supposed to be something more challenging, more interesting, less stressful..." she trailed off and stopped petting the cat.

Nathan Alan Willoughby stood up and stretched. He stared straight into Edie's eyes. She stared back, "You're right. Maybe it's time to think about moving." For the first time in several weeks, Edie smiled. This made Nathan Alan Willoughby purr louder. An adventure was on the horizon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Fun Friday!

And what better way to celebrate than with a picture of a dog in its Cone of Shame?

That's Lucy (hi Lucy! over here, over HERE!). From this picture, it seems that the Cone of Shame not only keeps her from messing with her eye ailment but also from putting her paw in an electrical outlet.

What's Fun Friday? Well, it's a state of mind - an attitude of being carefree, whether with friends or at work (though it works much better when one is not at work).

So go celebrate today by doing something fun. Or doing nothing at all, which I happen to think is even more fun.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Dog I Always Wanted

Every morning, Foster brings me the paper. (hi Foster! Good boy!)

When I was growing up, I always wanted a dog who would retrieve the paper. I read the comics page a lot, so I probably got the idea from Snoopy or Marmaduke. Of course growing up, the newspaper was delivered to our front step, so our dog didn't have to retrieve it (not that he would have if given the opportunity).

Foster taught himself how to get the paper when he first mistook it for a toy and brought it to me. Every morning, even in snow, when I say "paper," he runs to get it for me. Even with his diminishing eyesight, Foster finds the paper and brings it to me.

It has been difficult to watch Foster age. However, within Foster remains that same spunky puppy who has too much sass and attitude for his own good. He still is perpetually happy (although we both are grumpy with Tilly now and then). I never get tired of Foster bringing me the paper. Every day I marvel over it.

Good things don't last forever. We need to appreciate each incredible feat of nature, endearing quality, and thoughtful gesture. Instead of being sad that such things are fleeting, we need to remember that they only hint at a greater love to follow.

What daily treasure do you value? What's your dream dog?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meeting Another More Than Half Way

This is Shayla (hi Shayla!). Shayla is a very cute Shiba-Inu. This Japanese-based breed is known to be stubborn, brave, and charming. They can be a bit stand-offish with other people and dogs.

This was Shayla's first visit to my kennel. On the advice of the owner, I let her find her own way the first couple of days, not being too friendly or forceful with her. Also a very smart breed, she figured out the routine of the kennel quickly. It helped that she liked the home made dog treats I offered. After just a couple days, she let me know that she preferred the very first pen when she went outside. Shayla warmed up to me, wagging her tail when she saw me, and even being curious with the other dogs. Here she meets Tilly.

Often we encounter difficult people and we need to figure out the best way to approach them. Through complicated personality and experience, each person brings their baggage to the table. Sometimes one has to back off before one can move forward - give the other person space to get comfortable.

The Lord is never far away from us, and He longs to draw near. Sometimes we do not feel so generous toward God and we resist Him. However, He is always there, waiting for us to reach toward him so we can enjoy our relationship with him and others.

What holds you back from trusting others? Have you been able to reach out to others who are difficult? Aren't Shiba-Inus cute?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Proves His Worth

Nathan Alan Willoughby noticed something was different with Edie. Since coming to live with her after she adopted him from the Westwood Rescue Home for Good Cats, she greeted him cheerfully when she returned to him after work.

But lately, she was sad. Sometimes, Edie would tear up and blow her nose a lot. When this happened, Nathan Alan Willoughby sat very close to her.

One night, Edie didn't come home until much later than normal. When she did, her tone of voice was different, and she was slurring her speech. This frightened the large cat. Erratic behavior reminded him of the scary people he saw digging in the dumpster when he was dining on leftover pizza.

Edie picked up the cat and swung him in her arms, "Yerrrssuch a goood kittykittykitty..." she said. She spun him in every tightening circles. Nathan Alan Willoughby, despite his iron clad stomach from dumpster food, was not prepared for the whirling behavior. When Edie stopped and snuggled him under her chin, he made a peculiar noise, "mow-wow-wow-wow....mow-wow-wowowww." Then he threw up. Unfortunately, this triggered sympathetic behavior in Edie. She dropped the cat and sprinted to the bathroom.

Nathan Alan Willoughby stood as still as he could, his body still weaving from the unwanted merry go round. Then, he heard Edie sobbing. He headed towards her just as she came out of the bathroom. She had a towel in her hand, blotting her eyes as well as her mouth. She slumped to the floor and let the tears flow.

"How could he? How could he flirt with me - eat lunch with me every day - and he's married?" She buried her head in the towel. The large cat was still wary, but he walked up to her anyway. He gently put one paw on her leg and squeezed his claws ever so much.

Startled, Edie squawked, "Ouch!" temporarily stopping her crying. Nathan Alan Willoughby gazed into her eyes, his purr filling the apartment. She set the towel down and gently picked him up. She breathed in his fur, listening to his comforting humming noise. At the end of his purr, he made a small squeak. Edie smiled and looked at him, "Oh, Cat, you are still here, still faithful."

She stood back up, picking the towel up and walking into the kitchen. "Perhaps I don't need to think of him anymore than he thought of me." She poured cat food in Nathan Alan Willoughby's bowel. He stood staring at her, still purring.

Edie leaned down, "You, Big Guy, really know how to show a girl she's special."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Viva La Difference!

Here's Brandy, chilling out at her home. (Hi Brandy!)

And here's Sandy, caught without her make-up when the papparazi breezed by. (Hi Sandy!)

Brandy and Sandy are owned by two really fun people. These two St. Bernards are frequent guests here at the kennel and do well when they are here. They know what to expect and settle in comfortably.

The only problem I have is that before Sandy will go out in the mornings, I have to give her a belly rub. For most dogs, this involves maybe leaning down and scratching the dog's belly with three or four fingers. With Sandy, who weighs 165 lbs., it is nearly a total body work out.

Brandy has her quirks too. She greets me every morning not with a bark, but with a "woowoowoo!"

Same breed, same home, but two different personalities. One thing that keeps working in the kennel interesting is learning a dog's own unique personality. While some breeds exhibit extremely similar character traits, they still are all different.

People are even more complex. Sometimes I'm not as happy about trying to figure them out, however. It takes a lot more work and a lot more patience. Plus, I'm not getting paid to understand them. It's voluntary.

Much like the dogs, though, making the effort is worth the pay off of getting acquainted with someone. And while maybe I won't see that person often, understanding and patience goes a long way to furthering kindness and peace, even if it's for a moment. Yes, it's easier to keep people at arm's length and just "get through" an encounter. I'm learning that slowing down and really looking at a person can be a gift.

When are you most tempted to brush people off? When they disagree with you? Have a bumper sticker you hate? Have you chosen to believe the best in a person, despite all evidence to the opposite?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful, for (most) Everything

Last Spring when I learned Foster was going blind, the veterinarian told me that my other dog would help Foster and that he would become dependent on her. I looked at Foster and said, "Well, Buddy, looks like your sunk."

I didn't tell the vet that Tilly, my other dog, is a pinhead. And I say that in the nicest way possible. Sure, when I adopted her from the shelter (two years ago this week), she was listed as a dog. However, I strongly suspect she is part squirrel and part timber wolf. See? That's Tilly scaling the seven foot woodpile in the lean-to. I think she's looking for mice. All I know is she's not helping me haul wood to the house.

Last night, I had a dream that Tilly ran off and I couldn't find her. I was distraught. In real life, she's run off a couple of times, mainly to the woods, and I felt like I didn't really care. But that's not true. A year ago, she ran away on the college campus (chasing deer!!) and it was over an hour before I found her (or she found me). It was cold and I got worried.

Perhaps I like her after all.

Recently, Foster's eyesight is worsening and Tilly has become attentive to him. While he doesn't seem to like her much more than I do (or act like it), he's paying closer attention to what she's doing. Fortunately, he has not picked up her recent habit of sprinting through the forsythia row and looping by the barn first thing in the morning. Somehow, she seems to think she should "secure the perimeters". I guess I'm okay with that too, even if she looks like a sprinting freak.

Maybe Foster and I need to have Tilly around, and not just for comic relief or a reason to be cranky. While I still am working on her not greeting visitors with two paws to the chest and a french kiss (some guests seem to like this), there is some charm and sweetness about her. It's taken a long time to appreciate this, and not just hang my head in my hands, moaning at the nut of a dog I have in my life.

Sometimes you just have to be thankful for the nuts. And that's not code.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Living in the Moment

This is Maggie (hi Maggie!). Maggie belongs to a very kindly woman. Maggie has a great life, the center of attention in her home.

Maggie has been to the kennel numerous times. While she probably wouldn't list it on her Top Ten Things to Do (although maybe she doesn't even do ten different things), she seems pleasant enough when she's here. She doesn't play with the other dogs at the kennel, but she doesn't shirk in the back of her run, afraid of the world. She looks around with wonder, processing this new environment.

I really like things not to change and I really like to stay home. However, that's pretty dull. Getting the opportunity to go out and do something different, even meeting strangers and being completely outside my comfort zone, makes my brain squish around in a good way. Bottom line, we need to experience change and feel off-kilter every now and then. It's healthy and makes our brains work (I know this because Rachel read a book about healthy brains - thanks Rachel!).

When's the last time you did something challenging, even if you felt nervous approaching the situation? How did it go? What new thing would you like to try? I've been thinking about bungee jumping of late. However, I don't think that's on my Top Ten. However, I'd love to hear from someone who DID bungee jump!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Becomes a Beggar - Fiction

Since adopting Nathan Alan Willoughby from the Westwood Rescue Home for Good Cats, Edie enjoyed his easy going manner. Though he was a cat of great size and substance, he ate his daily allotment of cat food without complaint.

One morning as Edie finished her bowl of cereal, she set it down to answer her phone. Nathan Alan Willoughby, who had been sitting companionably next to her, sniffed the milk in the bowl. He saw that it was good. He tasted it. Game over.

Edie thought it was cute and it was soon a part of their daily routine. Yet in only ten short days, the give and take of breakfast gave way to a cat's demand of his owner. Now when Edie ate her cereal, Nathan Alan Willoughby stared her down for the duration of her eating.

Breakfast became a bit of a nightmare as the cat now meowed as soon as she poured the milk. When Edie sat at the table, Nathan Alan Willoughby jumped on top of it, meowing his turn come sooner.

When he put his paw in her cereal bowl and pulled it toward him, Edie realized the extent of her problem. No longer did she have a content cat but a roaring animal on her hands. "I've created a monster," she said.

Nathan Alan Willoughby was miserable as well. Before he was content to listen to Edie crunching on her morning granola while he sat cuddled next to her. Now, he was a slave to his taste for milk, forgetting about Edie in the process.

Edie put her foot down and decided her cat needed to go "cold turkey" without milk. It meant some sacrifices on her part, like standing up to eat her breakfast quickly instead of sitting like a civilized person.

Nathan Alan Willoughby again kept his eyes affixed to Edie's spoon-to-mouth ritual. He reached his paw to her leg to remind her he was there. When she ignored him, he dug in with his claws. That got a reaction.

Soon, Nathan Alan Willoughby was sitting in the bathroom with the door closed while Edie went about her business of eating. After a couple of days, she let him out. If he pestered her at all, he was again banished.

Going backwards from temptation would not be easy. It required a great deal of time and patience for Edie to set a good limit on her cat. It required suffering on the Nathan Alan Willoughby's part. Eventually, there was a truce. But after that one taste, there was never the same cozy morning routine again.

But, there was still love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Resisting Love

Meet Millie, Roxie and Sadie (hi girls!). Yes, it's been several days of multi-dog families at Good Shepherd lately.

Sadie is no stranger to the kennel and really likes me. Millie warmed up to me after a day or so. Roxie...well, Roxie resisted love.

She wanted to trust me, but something kept her from it. At first, she growled as soon as she heard me enter the kennel. When she saw Sadie happily wagging her tail and receiving affection, she became curious. She would circle me, sneaking up behind me to see if I passed the sniff test (dog criteria, not people). With every visit, she got closer and closer. Sadly, though, Roxie never bridged the gap to let me give her some lovin's.

Opening our hearts and allowing hope into our lives are huge hurdles. Often, it must become a conscious decision to try. It amazes me how a person can continue to hope, despite constant disappointments. Yet isn't it the only way to live?

We can live small, not taking any chances like Roxie. We can move cautiously like Millie. Or, we can love with abandon like Sadie.

I worry about being able to recover from a broken heart. Then I remember that each time it's happened, whether a person or circumstance, God has rebuilt me with an even better, more loving heart. Allowing God to work like this, giving me a strength, hope and love that is beyond my own capacity, is a work truly of His limitless, mysterious power.

I don't want to live a safe life. That's boring and it's hardly living. I'd rather take my chances to experience love, which is another amazing way to experience God.

What keeps you from love? What do you do to restore trust in yourself and others?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Slew of Schnauzers

Meet Chance, Lucky, Yogi, and Shadow (hi guys!). Aren't they cute (albeit blurry)?

These guys are so much fun. While they were all wary upon their first visit to the kennel this past summer, they now act like they are "old pros" when they are here. They've decided I'm okay too. This may have something to do with giving them food and treats (they are all sitting in this picture, waiting for me to put down their food bowls).

Wouldn't it be fun to have a little pack of dogs like this entertaining you at home? I think they must be so much fun.

Having friends in our lives is such a gift. However, it's not always easy to find the right friends with whom we feel perfectly comfortable. It seems like the older we get, the harder it is to find a good friend, let alone a whole pack of them.

Recently, a woman in Bible Study reminded me "you have not because you ask not." While she didn't mean that in a "name it-claim it kind of way," I realized that there were some things I was waiting to see if God would provide, instead of asking if He would. It's not like God needs us to remind Him, but I think prayer has something more to do with us then seeing how He will work out our asking, for His glory, not our benefit.

I've asked God for good and wise friends. I've been richly blessed with them. In fact, it seems like God keeps adding wonderful people into my world. It's wonderful and makes my life lively.

Sort of like a pack of Schnauzers.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Chases the Sun - Fiction

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to keep Nathan Alan Willoughby entertained while she was at work, Edie gave up. If he wanted to sleep on the couch all day, so be it. He seemed content that way. Leaving the television on for him left him stressed.

As Autumn rushed toward Winter and a shortening of days, Nathan Alan Willoughby noticed something new and fantastic. It was a sun beam that came in mid morning and stuck around til late afternoon. This was a perfect place to bask. There never was such a place in the Westwood Rescue for Good Cats. Of course, cats didn't understand about the beauty of a south-facing window. That doesn't mean they don't appreciate them.

After Edie left for work, Nathan Alan Willoughby finished his breakfast (never enough for a twenty pound cat), batted his catnip mouse around until it was stuck under the couch, and then went to visit his new friend the sunbeam. Black fur kept in the heat, and he rolled onto his back to let the sun warm his belly.

By the time he woke up, the sun beam had moved about a foot. Stretching, Nathan Alan Willoughby got up to see what was new in the cat box, then chase the little ball with the bell in it til it joined the catnip mouse under the couch. Of course this was exhausting so he went back to the sunbeam to rest up.

It was a good but simple life. Nathan Alan Willoughby didn't miss Edie so much when he was with the sunbeam. Even when it rained, the cat knew that the sun would return, and along with it, the direct warming of his fur.

Edie noticed a content cat when she returned from a long day of work. She didn't know about her cat's new love, the sun beam. She only saw the difference in her cat, his long blinking stares at her radiated love back to her. She retrieved the catnip mouse and the little ball with the bell inside from under the couch, then feed Nathan Alan Willoughby his dinner. Later, they sat on the couch together, the cat pinning Edie to the cushions as his bulk took up most of the throw over Edie.

Edie was content with this arrangement as well. Sometimes, she'd do some yoga stretches. Mysteriously, Nathan Alan Willoughby seemed to have some of his own. But what can you expect from a cat who basks in the glory of the sun?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking Your Medicine

This is Bo (hi Bo!). Bo is a girl. Maybe her name is "Bowe."

This is Bo's medicine.

Guess who has to stick two horse pills down the hundred pound dog's gullet?

Me (not pictured).

I am very brave, aren't I?

Actually, Bo is a champ about taking her medicine. Sure, my hand gets a little slimy but that's because Bo drools when she sees and smells the cheese she gets as her reward for taking her pills.

Wouldn't it be nice if we knew when we did something very difficult we got a nice reward? This is a big problem for me. It seems like since I've been through hard stuff, I should get what I want. I argue with God about this. So far, I haven't won any of the arguments.

Medicine is for our benefit. It doesn't taste good, but it works in our bodies to restore our health. Sometimes (not always), I can see the tough stuff working out to be to my benefit and restored spiritual health. I don't understand how medicine works, but I trust when I ingest it, it will work. It doesn't give me super powers (like being invisible so I can take naps). It does what it's supposed to do.

Same with trying circumstances - we don't get super happy story-book endings. We get what we need (queue Rolling Stones tune). God knows what He's doing. I just need to trust the process.

How do you give your dog medicine? Do your struggles bring you closer to further to God? How long does it take through the process?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hachi - the Movie that Made Me Weep

"Hachi: A Dog's Tale" - a movie with Richard Gere, based on a true story of a dog in Japan. Hachi loves Richard Gere so much that he follows him to the train station every day and waits til Richard Gere comes home from work. Then they walk home from the station, tails wagging. Make that one tail.

Sure Richard Gere is cute, but he's an emotion denying nut job. Based on his looks alone, I may be tempted to lurk (stalk) at the station and follow him home too. A person can get arrested for this behavior. Yet in dogs, we find it adorable and make movies about intense loyalty and devotion (slash obsession).

Spoiler alert: Richard Gere has a heart attack at work and dies (so much for zen). Hachi continues to wait at the station, despite the remaining family member's attempts to keep him at home. Oh, and reason with him (like that would work). This goes on for ten years. It seems maybe they should have at least sent his body home on the train to stop this behavior. But no, everyone finds it charming and are touched by the poor dog waiting for the return of his owner in vain.

And darn it, it worked on me too. Despite my own Mr. Spock cold, logical mind, tears coursed down my cheeks too. Perhaps that's the difference. People can be reasoned with while dogs (and most animals) can not be talked out of loyalty. Despite all logic, cold hard facts, reason, and even death, a dog (and probably cats too, but they are camera shy non-publicity seeking creatures) can maintain their loyalty.

No one is beyond the love of God. He will pursue a person until they've made up their mind to ignore God forever (until death). For those who choose to accept (and hopefully bask) in the deep, inexplicable love of God, they become the focus of a love and loyalty that endures logic, facts, reason and especially death.

In the movie, Hachi was raised to hero status, and example of love and loyalty. Hachi's story is true. Yet we can look to Jesus and see an even better demonstration of love and devotion. One that lasts forever.

What examples of loyalty have you seen in your dog and/or cat? What do you think of Hachi's devotion? What movies make you cry?

By the way, this is Post 100 - how am I doing?

Monday, November 8, 2010

From Which Well Do You Drink?

Julie caught her dog drinking out of the toilet. She was grossed out. She suggested I blog about this canine phenom. There's so many directions I could take this. I'll go with the obvious (at least to me).

Yes, my dogs have drank from the toilet. Usually it's when their own water bowl has run dry and "someone" forgot to replenish (I think it was Dooley).

Why do dogs do this? Most believe it is because the water from the toilet is always fresh (to a dog) and usually cooler than water standing in their bowls. It doesn't matter why to us, we're grossed out regardless. We know about those toilets. We know what they are for, even if dogs do not. If they do, they don't care.

Every day we have many choices to make. Most of us are fortunate to choose what we'll eat (unless you're doing the cabbage soup diet). Nutrition effects our health - salad or junk food - as well as our mood. The choice is ours.

We also choose what to put in our minds. What we hear and see has an effect on us, positively or negatively. If we constantly chose to ingest negativity, it's no different from drinking from the toilet.

Which will you choose?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Living in Denial

See that blanket? That's Cooper. Well, the blanket isn't Cooper but Cooper is under the blanket (we see you Cooper - hello!).

It's not unusual for a Jack Russell Terrier to prefer to burrow in a blanket. Cooper, however, uses it also for pretending he's NOT in a kennel. He's just not a big fan of the place once he arrives.

Don't we all like to deny our circumstances now and then? Particularly as the weather gets colder, staying curled up in a blanket, away from others, is a tempting place to be. But, we can't stay there. Eventually, we need to leave.

And sometimes it takes a little encouragement to face our fears head on. As someone once said, "sometimes you need to kiss the demon on the lips."

Confidence follows facing our individual circumstances. Usually, it involves others, even if it's just that kennel girl opening the door to go out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Games Dogs Play

Those Goldens are Mary and Luke (hi Mary and Luke!). The black and white blur is Tilly.

Tilly, unlike Foster, likes other dogs and often stands at the end cage waiting for some interesting ones who will engage in her favorite game. Some dogs ignore her, others find her annoying (not unlike myself). But every now and then, as in the case of Mary and Luke, she found not one but two dogs who enjoyed racing the length of the outside pens, turning on a dime, and barking all the way as they race to the other end.

It is a game that has no appeal to me. I'm glad she enjoys it and makes life more fun for the dogs staying in the kennel. I suppose Tilly is sort of like the floor show.

When I was in college, one of my roommates turned her nose up at the suggestion of playing a board game. She'd say, "Board games are for the bored." Obviously, she long forgot our marathon sessions of Pictionary. I hope now she's learned that Apples to Apples is not just an amusement, but a creative exercise of the mind as well as a delightful social exchange. Wow, that sort of sounds like I'm the PR person for Parker Brothers.

Then there is dancing. Once you're out of college, one doesn't have the chance to do much dancing (unless you're part of the Jersey Shore hook-up culture). Sure, there's the living room, but it's not the same. Fortunately, there's zumba.

"Play" is extremely important to people as well as dogs. People tend to work pretty hard (many of us to put food on the table...for our dogs). We don't take enough time to spend with other people and just enjoy them.

I resist community. A couple winters ago, I proudly numbered seven "stay-at-home-days" in a row, involving very little human contact. I still recall those days of solitude with much happiness. However, if I did that often, I'd probably become a bit of a freak (or freakier, no comments on that, please). I have to force myself to be in community with others. When I do, it's always better. Even people who are tough to be around can shape us to become better individuals if we allow ourselves to be transformed.

Or, we can stay in our little gerbil balls, knocking into others' bubbles unaffected, but stuck in the gerbil ball.

Excuse me, I need to go throw the ball for Tilly.

What games does your dog like? Have you played Apples to Apples (Mary Kate and Ashley)? Where do you experience your best community?

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Room with a View

This is Gus (hi Gus!) He's enjoying his view of picturesque Ada.

Gus was adopted as an older dog, and has done a very good job protecting his owner since then. It's hard to know if he realizes she rescued him from an unhappy future. Gus is pretty laid back and asks little of life. He does, however, like to look outside.

When he's here at the kennel, he likes to be able to look outside too. In favorable weather, he stays outside nearly all day. Watching the world go by is a great activity for Gus.

Sometimes we can look at others' lives and believe them to be more interesting than our own. Perhaps they seem like they are more relevant and our own is so insignificant. Just because not everyone spends their every waking moment finding a cure for cancer doesn't mean one's life is unimportant.

Easily, I could look at my own circumstances and think that because my livelihood consists of picking up dog poo it is not worth much. However, allowing dog owners to have some peace of mind while they are away from their dogs is important to them. That's the part I play (there are more, but I'm trying to keep this short).

You play a part too. Even if life hasn't gone in the direction one might hope and it seems our role is ho-hum, it is important. If you're fully convinced otherwise, then make some changes that include sacrificing your time and comfort for another person or cause, even if it isn't glamorous.

"The strongest evidence of love is sacrifice."

Gus' owner could have gone for the cute little puppy. Instead, she went for a cute senior canine citizen. Because Gus' life matters.

How do you give to the point of sacrifice? Would you give even if it wasn't appreciated? What can you give up or do to make life a little better for someone else?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby as Couch Potato - Fiction

After unsuccessfully using the music stations on her television to keep Nathan Alan Willoughby, Edie tried another idea. He just couldn't lay around on the couch all day. It simply wasn't good for a twenty pound cat to rest. Not constantly anyway.

This time, Edie left the television on an actual station, without any floating icons to send the cat into a trance. She decided on Mtv, since it at least had some music on now and then.

Nathan Alan Willoughby stood at the door and watched Edie grab her backpack as she closed the door. "Don't forget to hydrate this time, Cat," she said as the door closed.

Listening to her feet descend three flights of steps and the outside door closing, Nathan Alan Willoughby wandered through the kitchen. He'd left a couple bites of kibble, so he finished those and, as Edie suggested, lapped some of the cold water in his paw print bowl.

He returned to the living room and sat in front of the television. The images were moving, but nothing like that elusive floating object that held him in place last week. Instead, there seemed to be a lot of yelling, discussion of tans, grenades and hair. It was perplexing to the large cat, but occasionally there was a swirling image for him to attack. After a while, he returned to the couch, but kept his eyes on the television.

It was a poor substitute for Edie, but she'd return eventually. She always did. Nathan Alan Willoughby finally trusted that this kind person would leave, but always return. It was a strange world without her, but she was never far, he was certain. He supposed she was on the sidewalk, just waiting to return to him. He didn't really understand. Life was very confusing, but belonging to Edie was all comfort and peace.

The television continued to flash images of young people dancing at nightclubs and laying out on the beach. And more arguing, tanning, and discussion of hair. One voice jarred Nathan Alan Willoughby each time it spoke. Unable to sleep, he sat in front of the television, trying in vain to make sense of this squawk and squeal. The cat licked his paw uncertainly. He was beginning to get upset. What on earth was a Snooki?

Mercifully, Edie returned. Again, her adopted cat was staring at the television, a pool of drool on the floor. "Oh no!" She cried, "How could I have known it was a Jersey Shore marathon!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Darkening World

This is my 10 year old Australian Cattle Dog, Foster (hi Foster!) If you are waving at him, he may not see you. And not because you're at a computer screen (although that's why too).

Foster is going blind.

After finding out that surgery couldn't help him regain his sight, I've read up on dogs going blind. It wasn't all that enlightening (pun intended). It said to expect them to bump into things, stumble, and sometimes fall (I needed a book to tell me this?). Just this week, Foster ran into a tree, stumbled up the stairs, and fell getting out of the truck. Fortunately, he is a very tough dog and doesn't miss a beat.

While I was at a bible study this week, a question was asked about what light does in darkness. It's obvious, isn't it? It dispels it. No longer will a person (or dog) stumble, fall, or bump into things. From Genesis all the way through the bible, Light and Dark are discussed. When Jesus heals a blind person, it's not that the person sinned, and is therefore blind (like some thought), but that without Jesus, we're blind to our sin. We can not see truth. When we see sin through the Light of Jesus, we know the difference. The Light is better. Even the tiniest light can be seen in complete darkness.

Often I find myself stumbling and bumping into things. I've fallen a lot too. "Then there was Light." "The Light of the World." When I hear someone saying they can't stand to think about people dying and going to Hell without Jesus, it makes me sad but it doesn't spur me to action. What I think about is how many people live without Jesus, stumbling, bumping into things, falling down, not knowing how to make the pain stop. That makes me want to tell people how much better it is to walk every day with Jesus. Even if you fall down with Him, it doesn't hurt nearly as bad. There's a lot to be said for forgiveness, grace and peace.

What do you bump into most often? Why does it hurt so bad when even the tiniest toe gets stubbed in the middle of the night (or any time, really)? Do blind dogs need seeing-eye people?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's Bacon!!

Today there will be no picture of a happy, bemused, or anxious dog or cat. What you have instead are the remains of some hapless pig, who probably had a surly disposition, so I won't feel bad about eating BACON.

Is there anyone unfamiliar with the commercial that features a dog just dying for his bacon treat? It's pretty memorable. More than one human has looked at a BLT and enthused, "It's bacon!!!"

Last Saturday, I baked up a pound of bacon, which I had not bought for eons. Then, ten minutes after it was out of the oven, it was gone.

Did Foster and/or Tilly eat it? No, but that would be quite a story and it's not like they haven't done stuff like that before.

It was me. I ate it. All of it. Quickly.

Self-control. It's a constant challenge for me. My two dogs seem to have the same problem with food. Within the first year I got Tilly, she snuck down the basement and ate an enormous quantity of dog food. Her stomach was completely bulged. I took her to the vet and had her stomach pumped (which means they made her puke...a lot). When I took her home, she looked perplexed. However, I know that won't keep her from doing the same again, if given the opportunity. See:

For me, nothing is more humbling and embarrassing than my inability to be balanced in eating and drinking. While it isn't a huge problem, even a little is frankly obnoxious. Even though I try not to beat myself up too bad, I'd like to do better. Because it's important to do things right? No, because it's good for me.

Some people think Christianity is all about rules. What some don't know is God loves us through the rules and despite our breaking them. It's a gift to know what's to our benefit. It's a greater gift to know we have the love of a powerful God even if we mess up.

What's your area of challenge with self-control? Food? Wine? Housecleaning? (eek) What's your favorite bacon dish? Has your dog ever stolen anything?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Memoriam of Cleo

Cleo was the beloved dog of my cousin and his wife. She led a great life in San Francisco, enjoying every bit of life and being loved greatly.
I had the privilege of meeting Cleo only once, but I got to see her in action. She loved her backyard. She will certainly be missed and leave a hole in many hearts.

"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." Proverbs 12:10

Monday, October 25, 2010

Out for a Walk

Here are Foster, Riley, and Matilda (hi guys!).

Sometimes just taking a walk can become a challenge. Lately, I've found myself walking more than just my two dogs, adding another from the kennel in need of exercise. Only some dogs are patient enough to walk with my two. And I'm only patient with walking some dogs together. My arm can extend only so far.

Right now, I'm planning a 5k for Hardin County Hospice (November 6 - come join us!). The only qualification for me doing so is that I've participated in a few before. Oh, and it was my idea. Fortunately, I've had a lot of help that has put me forward as opposed to spinning in circles.

Publicity has emphasized how the 5k is for walking and running. Some people love a competitive race (not that I know any of these people). Others like a brisk walk. There are people who are thankful they can get up and out of bed under their own power.

We all have our different levels of capability. We should be thankful for whatever level we may have on this day. If you are strong, rejoice in your strength and energy. If you are struggling with health issues, you can be glad you even opened your eyes this morning (I know sometimes even that is a challenge).

Today has something in store for you. It's not always easy to see what that is - it takes some digging, some careful thought. Unlike me, who can only handle so much at one time, the Lord can extend his hand to you, in whatever circumstance you are. That is reason alone for rejoicing. He cares for you and will care for you. Reach out your own hand back.

Have you done any 5ks? Did you like it? (do you have any tips?!) How many dogs have you walked at once? What's the best reason for getting out of bed in the morning (besides breakfast, though that's at the top of my list)?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby and How He Fought Boredom

Edie came home from work and found Nathan Alan Willoughby laying on the couch. She noted that this was the exact spot he'd assumed when she left that morning. "Have you even moved?" The cat rolled off his back to stare at Edie. He blinked at her slowly.

"We need to find something for you to do. On a daily basis, all you do is help me with the crossword puzzle. And you're not even good at those." She walked to the table and arranged the daily newspaper to the correct page. Nathan Alan Willoughby jumped off the couch, ambled over to the table and jumped up by Edie. He reclined on his side, over the paper, and blinked at her again.

Edie rubbed his furry, and rather enormous, belly. Nathan Alan Willoughby purred. This was the best part of their day. Despite her concerned expression, there was no apparent reason for things to change. This routine worked just right in the cat's eyes.

The next morning as Edie left the apartment, she turned the television to the music channels. "Here, listen to zumba while I'm gone. Feel free to dance." Edie left and Nathan Alan Willoughby looked from the closed door to the television. There was something interesting about this, but it wasn't the thumping back beat.

The cat ambled to the television and watched as a small graphic bounced around the screen. If he could read, he would have known this was the name of the song and artist. Of course, to a cat, it appeared to be an intriguing shape that needed to be stalked and captured.

A mere nine hours later, the door opened and Edie tossed her backpack on a chair. Nathan Alan Willoughby was not on the couch. As she heard the music blaring, "Your Cell Phone Makes Me Crazy" she noticed paw prints all over the television. Nathan Alan Willoughby's front paws were tracking the graphic. His eyes were wild and a tiny bit of saliva was at the corners of his mouth.

Edie gasped and turned off the television. It took two whole minutes for the cat to stop staring at the screen, convincing him the elusive shape was gone for good. "I think I've created a monster. A dehydrated one." She picked up all twenty pounds of the cat and took him into the kitchen, setting him in front of his water bowl.

He was certainly lethargic. Eventually, he seemed to snap out of his stupor, focusing on the food Edie had put in his bowl and drinking an impressive amount of water.

Edie sighed, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." She tilted her head to the side, "But maybe you lost a pound."

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Who Ya Callin' a Chicken?"

This is Kilo (hi Kilo). The reason Kilo is blurry is he doesn't stop moving. He gets pretty excited about his toys, particularly the rubber chicken (who doesn't?).

Kilo is a Yorkshire Terrier. One thing I've learned from many small dog owners is how surprised they are that their little dog is fearless. Jack Russell Terriers and Yorkies in particular (ok, and Dachshunds) have no idea that they are small dogs. They are willing and able to take on the world.

On more than one occasion, I've let a small dog out of its run to go outside and the tiny terror has raced across the kennel to bark at a larger dog. The large dog seems perplexed. Sometimes, they are rightfully concerned. Uti, my favorite Dachshund, once reached her snout inside a 165 pound Newfoundland's cage to pull its fur.

Lesson learned? Don't be afraid of the big dogs. Attitude goes a long way. I supposed I could go on and on. The bottom line is taking on a larger-than-life challenge isn't so intimidating when approached with the right amount of fierce determination.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finding Your Peace

This is Dooley (hi Dooley!). He's my favorite cat. I can say that because my cats can't read and they won't be jealous that I have a favorite.

Dooley is on what's left of Sue's desk. Dooley has been the stereotypical cat that hides when strangers are around.

Once when I was on vacation, Sue was in charge of the dogs and cats. She was describing trying to get another cat in the house and how she had to "hold Dooley" while the other cat (stubborn Carbon) came in the house. Hold Dooley? No one has ever held Dooley without him freaking out entirely. Dooley accepted Sue's authority and attention when normally he flees the scene.

Slowly but slowly, Dooley is learning to accept more people in his life. He's a happier cat for it. He's more confident, less stressed (I don't miss him yowling in the basement while friends visited).

Letting others in our lives is hard. I know I find it so. However, it's well worth the risks of having someone else around and more than tolerating them (and not yowling).

What's your reaction to new people? Do you let them pick you up (in mood, not crazy bear hugs)? Or do you flee to the basement? Isn't Dooley cute? It's like his nose is on crooked.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking Good

Tilly has a new sweater. Isn't she proud?

Sue is Tilly's favorite person in the world, and Sue made the sweater. When I brought it out to show Tilly, her tail began wagging like crazy, then she sat down for me to put it on her. Then she posed for the picture above. (Does she look maybe like Bazooka Joe?)

I guess I wouldn't believe that a dog really likes wearing clothes. Maybe it's just the pictures of the elaborate chihuahua costumes that I think this. However, Tilly pranced around outside in her sweater, obviously feeling pretty good about herself.

There is something to be said about putting on some "nice" clothes and going out, looking good. It boosts one's confidence level. Most of the time, I'm in my "dog" clothes, and "eau d'kennel" fills the air. Getting dressed up can be a welcome change.

There's also something to be said for spending an extra amount of time getting to know God. It's not always easy. However, it can boost one's confidence, knowing you're wrapped in the love of One who cares for you.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby Gets a New Toy-Fiction

"This will not do, Nathan Alan Willoughby!" The cat woke to Edie's words. She was standing over him with her hands on her hips. "Sure, you're cute, but you really need to get some more exercise. Remember what the vet said."

Edie left the apartment to do her usual Saturday morning errands. Nathan Alan Willoughby watched her go, then went to his food bowl. Nothing. Had he eaten all his breakfast already? And no leftover pumpkin pancakes. It seemed like Edie was serious about the vet's lecture on a healthy cat weight.

After a particularly wide yawn, Nathan Alan Willoughby went over to his catnip mouse. He rolled on top of it and gave it a few good kicks. After batting it under the couch (where he no longer fit), he jumped on it to take his mid-morning nap.

A rustling of sacks and bags preceded Edie's return to the apartment. "Look what I found in the bargain bin!" she practically yelled. Nathan Alan Willoughby watched as Edie's plarn bags fell off her shoulders as she pushed a huge cardboard box into the room. "You can be a commando cat! See, it's a tank. You can put your head out of the top. What do you think?"

The large cat slowly examined the peculiarly shaped box. There was a hole in one side. Boxes are practically irresistible to cats.

A box with a hole in it? Foggetaboutit. He crawled in the side and made the turn toward the hole in the top of the tank. The light of the outside world was visible, but for some reason, he couldn't quite reach it. "Mow" Nathan Alan Willoughby said. He tried to back out. This was also unsuccessful.

"Uh-oh," Edie said with a sigh. She was right to be concerned. "Mow?" the cat said again, the panic rising in him. "Mow!" Edie watched as the box began to shake back and forth, garbled meows echoing inside. Nathan Alan Willoughby tried in vain to exit.

Edie couldn't decide if she should push or pull the cat. Finally, he decided for her. A shredding noise began in the center of the green army tank, along with the angry cat cries. Nathan Alan Willoughby's head emerged from the top of the tank, along with claws full of ripped cardboard. "Mow!" he screamed, right before he jumped out the center, a strip of shredded paper on his rear.

As he raced from the room, Edie looked at the oval in her hand, "I guess this means you won't wear the hat."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting Comfortable

This is Sadie (hi Sadie!).

Perhaps you are thinking that Good Shepherd Boarding Kennel really knows how to service those "special needs dogs." While this is true, Sadie does in fact have front legs. She is only resting them under her torso.

When I saw Sadie like this, it made me happy. For her to be this relaxed was a good sign. Dogs don't put themselves in vulnerable positions unless they feel safe.

What about you? Where do you feel the least vulnerable, and really get comfortable? Sometimes it is in the privacy of our own homes. Sometimes it is with our closest friends. Often, our guard is up, unsure if we can really be ourselves. But isn't it a joy to be so comfortable that we can even tuck our legs under us and relax?