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?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Old Pro

Meet Otto (hi Otto!). Isn't he cute?

Otto visited the kennel for the second time this past weekend. The first time was this summer. Like many young dogs who are kenneled, he had a few accidents the first time he was here. From the look on his face, I could tell that being in a strange environment took some getting used to. But he made friends and had a good time.

When he arrived for his second visit, he knew what to expect. He came in with tail wagging, looking for his friends. He didn't have a single accident and ate very well. His face was relaxed and happy (just look at him!).

Doing things for the first time is hard. We don't know what to expect and we can be nervous. Using a personal example, I've been asked to help at a local soup kitchen (yes, it's even called that) this morning. I don't have any idea what it will be like. I'm pretty sure it will involve a hair net. However, I'm going anyway. Like Otto, it's likely that this new experience will be interesting. Maybe I'll even want to go again. (I just hope I don't have an accident - of any type).

What about you? Does the fear of the unknown keep you away from trying new things? Have you hesitated to be adventurous, then later found it was a great experience?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Keeping Your Cool

You've seen Roxie before (hi Roxie!). After a long walk on a hot day, she laid down in the shallow end of the pond. Most dogs swim. Not Roxie. She just spread out in the cool water and relaxed.

Sometimes it's hard to keep your cool when situations get too "hot." Some people walk away. Others count to ten. There are the extremes of a full screaming blow out or the silent treatment. Regardless, it's not easy to navigate the murky waters of disagreement.

But disagreements are differences of opinion and perspective, not the end of the world. They are normal, and somehow we need to figure out how to live in peace with each other, even when we see things differently.

Do I have the answers on how to do that effectively? Hardly. Yet I've seen plenty of dogs playing together happily one minute, only to have a bit of a spat. After the barking and growling cease, they go back to their game as if nothing happened.

"Be kind to one another, forgiving each other." The dogs seem to have this down. Maybe we can do better too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby and How Love Gets in the Way - Fiction

Having grown up on the streets alone, Nathan Alan Willoughby was used to keeping his own company. His early months were consumed with digging through dumpsters for food and avoiding being injured by dogs, cars, and mean people. At the Westwood Rescue for Good Cats, he had plenty of food, and kept himself amused with the catnip sachets and balls with bells on the inside.

But now he had Edie. She was the Best Toy Ever. Nathan Alan Willoughby followed her every move. She was fascinating. Each morning, she sat down with her coffee and hurried through her crossword puzzle before going to work. Nathan Alan Willoughby knew by now that this was her last step in the routine before she disappeared out the door, gone for hours on end.

The newspaper was spread out on the breakfast bar. As Edie poured her coffee, Nathan Alan Willoughby jumped to the stool, then to the top of the table. Being a cat of great size, he couldn't make the jump in one fell swoop. He'd learned to manage despite that personal obstacle. Spreading himself out on the paper, Nathan rolled onto his back to lock eyes with Edie.

"Well, you're quite the little helper, aren't you?" She said, rubbing his belly. The cat's long blink let her know he was content. Nathan Alan Willoughby began to purr and make bread in the air. "You know, I can't work my puzzle with you in the way." Nathan Alan Willoughby continued to purr and paw at the air, rolling onto the top of his head to add to his cuteness factor.

Edie poked him gently with her pen, "C'mon, Big Guy, move back." When he didn't budge, Edie sighed. She looked at him a long time. Finally, she scratched behind his ears, putting her pen aside. "I chose you to love. Why should I pass you by for a silly distraction like a puzzle."

Nathan Alan Willoughby's purrs heightened to a fine squeak after each exhale, content with her decision.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blinded by Your Vice

That's Tilly with her head in a bag (really, this blurry picture lends itself to many captions). She actually did walk around the kitchen like this before I found her, slamming into the butcher block and oven in her efforts to eat every last morsel at the bottom of the bag.

Both my dogs, Foster and Tilly, love food. They fight over food. When I'm moving around the house, they follow, wondering if it is food related (it often is). When I bring a bag in from the car, they anticipate it being food related. Anything in a forty pound bag is fair game.

I understand.

I didn't spend two hours zumba-ing and turbo-jamming Monday for the fun of it. I love food too. I think about it often. I look at food blogs with deep admiration. I was way ahead the nation's current obsession with bacon (not to be confused with beggin' strips). However, I've also needed to consciously balance this with the reality of slowing metabolism.

Gluttony is a real problem with me. Maybe you wouldn't think so by looking at me, but I know. And God knows. Gluttony is about consumption. And thinking about food can consume me in unhealthy ways. Maybe we think food obsession is not as bad as other obsessions. Really? Have you noticed the commercials that use Al Green tunes - the tangy cheese seducing the hamburger? Uh-huh. It's no different.

What about you? How's your self-control (you don't need to answer that)? Have you noticed the mood you're in when your self-control is slack? Boredom? Loneliness? And while we're at it, what's your favorite restaurant (an easier question to answer)?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Let a Little Thing Like That Stop You

This is Bosco (hi Bosco!).

Bosco is the type of dog some refer to as a "low rider." He has very short legs and is built low to the ground like a Corgi. Bosco is a mix and a darn cute one. I love it when he comes to the kennel as he's very entertaining.

Despite his short legs, Bosco is a perfectly happy little dog who does everything his dog friends do. He runs with them, turns corners on a dime, and plays. When it's time for him to go home, he jumps in the back of his owner's SUV. Well, he tries. He can't quite do it himself. After all, he has short legs. That's when Bosco needs the help of others.

Most of the time, I can do everything I need to at my house and for my business. But not everything. Like right now, I'm planning this 5k for charity and it's making me nuts because I don't know what I'm doing. It's like I have short legs. Fortunately, others are helping me. Then there are those other matters that require help of a higher level - only God can help me - they are such obstacles.

What about you? What can't you jump into without help? How can you overcome them? Have you ever done a 5k? What's the funniest looking dog you've seen?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Enjoying the Gift

This high-flying pooch is Garbo (hi Garbo!).

Garbo has a somewhat unnatural obsession with her toys. Actually, her toys are really the toys of a young boy or girl, but Garbo takes them over. Last time I saw her, she'd hijacked a plastic hamburger from a child's kitchen. She takes the toy to anyone who will throw it for her and the game never really stops.

Her owners told me she is even worse when it comes to rawhide bones. In fact, she never even enjoys the bone because she is consumed by hiding it so the other dog in the house won't find it. Garbo becomes so worried about her bone being taken, she never gets around to enjoying the treasure.

Until recently, I often stashed gifts to be enjoyed later. Later would never come and sometimes the gift wasn't even good anymore. I've tried to change my mindset to enjoy the treasures now.

Do you ever worry about taking care of your "things" instead of enjoying them? How can you slow down to enjoy each day as a gift? Does your dog steal children's toys?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nathan Alan Willoughby and His Excellent Dream

Having spent the first nine months of his life feeding from a dumpster, Nathan Alan Willoughby was well acquainted with the scents of such. Fortunately, a dumpster behind a pizza parlor was not so bad. He learned rotting spinach was to be avoided (at all costs), cheese stuck to cardboard boxes was fair game, and oregano and basil meant tasty tomato sauce.

Since Edie adopted him from the Westwood Rescue for Good Cats, Nathan Alan Willoughby learned more about fragrances. When Edie got ready for work, he smelled soapy lilac. If she was cleaning his litterbox with Mr. Clean, Edie'd wrinkle her nose and say "pew." The cat watched and agreed, but for very different reasons.

One Saturday morning, Edie came in carrying a crinkly paper sack. Nathan Alan Willoughby was fast asleep. His dream of chasing a cricket morphed strangely into a large orange gourd chasing him. Then, he woke up.

Ginger, cloves, and cinnamon filled his nostrils. He sat up and walked over to Edie. He sat at her feet and stared as she sipped coffee. "Pumpkin donut?" she asked. She broke off a small piece and put it on the floor in front of him.

He sniffed it. Ah-ha. He tasted it. Excellent. Nathan Alan Willoughby meowed and put his paw on Edie's leg. "That's enough, friend. You need to watch your weight." This was utter nonsense to the cat. She gave him something delicious and she had more. Why wasn't she sharing?

Nathan Alan Willoughby dug his nails into Edie's pant leg. "Mow!" he demanded.

"Fine. You can have one more bite. Too much of a good thing isn't good for you, Nathan Alan Willoughby. Me, I'm going out for a run after this, but I know you. You only play with that little catnip mouse for ten minutes and you're winded. Here you go, but that's it."

He gobbled up the last bite of pumpkin donut. It was wonderful. He didn't understand why he could only have a little, but he learned to trust Edie. He would learn to be content.