Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘loss’

A Love Affair with Bostons


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Do you have a dog who has captured your heart?

TazE is our little Tasmanian Devil with an E for Ears. When she was a puppy in her kennel in Indiana, the folks there named her “Ears” because that part of her anatomy seemed to overpower everything else. All you saw were those enormous appendages sticking up on this wiggly little Boston Terrier. Living in a remote part of Montana, Boston Terrier puppies are nowhere to be found. So, I searched on-line and saw a picture of a batch of five sparkly, bright little pups all lined up in a row. The middle one had ears that stood up like antennae while the two pups on each side of her had the typical floppy puppy ears. It was love at first sight. We needed another Boston. We had just lost our five year old pup to cancer.

Following a long and grueling battle with cancer, Angela joined our Buster and Benjamin in the clover fields of heaven. She left a hole in our family that only another Boston might partially fill. If you’ve ever owned one of these little American ladies (or gentlemen), you’ll understand what I mean.

There is a part of my husband’s personality that only emerges when he has a playful black and white (or brindle and white) terrier to play with. He thinks Bostons are the only dogs that count. He wouldn’t consider another breed! When he was in high school, his girlfriend’s family had one. He remembers the dog always had a ball in his mouth, asking to play catch whenever Bob went to visit. That’s when his love affair with this breed began.

Before TazE, we had owned four Bostons in the 54 years of our marriage.  Each time one of our little angels died, that playful part of Bob died with them.

The first one, Buster, lived 13 years. His face was the kind only a mother could love: one eye surrounded by white hair was constantly bloodshot. The other eye, surrounded by black hair looked off to the side rather than straight ahead. His typical Boston nose, pushed in, looked like he’d been hit head-on by a truck. But, our son, Ty, and daughter, DeAna, loved him as much as Bob and I did. He was the family’s little king – and grew to a husky, muscular, strong little gentleman. He ruled the roost on Yale Drive in San Mateo, California.

At about the age of eight, Buster moved with us from the mild temperatures of the San Francisco Bay area back to our roots in California’s San Joaquin valley. To go for a swim, he didn’t even need the prompting of a tennis ball thrown in the pool. He had his own doggie door, so he’d exit the house into the fenced-in back yard and dive into the pool to cool off during the triple digit summer weather. Whoever was pool-side then endured his splashes because he insisted on coming right near the sunbathers to shake off!

We had a black and white cat to match our Buster. Tootsie and Buster usually played beautifully together, but sometimes Buster would get a bit too frisky or play a tad longer than Tootsie wanted. So she would tell him, “Enough’s enough” in no uncertain terms. Once her claws caught Buster’s blood-shot eye. It wasn’t healed yet when he walked into a rosebush and the eye was damaged further by a thorn. It got infected and wouldn’t heal. The vet finally decided to remove it. Having only one-eye didn’t slow him down, however. Buster and Tootsie were quite a pair! I think she died of a broken heart less than six months after the September morning when he dug under our fence, tried to follow our kids to school, and was hit by a car.

Our second Boston was Benjamin. He was brindle and white, with a lot of brown showing through the places on his torso where Buster had been a pure shiny black. His eyes were marked perfectly with black around each and a “monk’s cap” of white on his forehead. He loved to go with Bob out to our Bee Farm and ride with him on the truck to locations where the hives were placed in fields or orchards to pollinate the crops and gather nectar and pollen. I was teaching full time, Ty and DeAna were preoccupied with their high school activities, and Bob was busy as a beekeeper, so no one took the time to properly train Benjamin. “Come” was not in his vocabulary, nor was “Sit” or “Stay.” In spite of a collar and leash, he would somehow wiggle out of them to jump out the truck window if he saw a jack rabbit or something else he wanted to chase. More than one summer afternoon while Bob was working the hives, Benjamin would manage to free himself to chase something. Usually, he’d come back to where Bob was. Other times, however, he did not return. It seemed like Bob spent half his late afternoons looking for the dog before coming home dog tired. One time he came home without Benjamin. The next day he put up posters and put an ad offering a reward in the local newspaper near the spot where Benjamin had disappeared. He made the hundred mile round trip on the third day to look some more. No luck!

We always have our dogs spayed or neutered and have a chip inserted in case they should ever get lost. Our hope was that Benjamin was still alive and whoever found him would go to a vet who would check that chip. Sure enough, three days later we got a call. A farm family had found Benjamin, brought him to their local vet who read the chip and called us. The vet had seen the ad in the newspaper. The family wanted to keep Benjamin rather than receive the reward. No, we weren’t ready to give our pup away! In retrospect, however, maybe he would have been better off. He needed to be in some wide-open spaces where he could run and chase squirrels and rabbits to his heart’s content. He needed that young family with children who’d tussle with him daily. He met his demise one afternoon when a pack of stray dogs ran through our orchard. They were savvy. He wasn’t. They ran across the busy country highway avoiding the truck traffic. Benjamin didn’t. He was only three years old.

I knew we should not get another dog before I was free to go to Obedience School with the pup. It was unfair to have one if you didn’t have time to train him properly. Bob had said, “No more dogs… I can’t go through this agony of losing them anymore,” but I knew he missed having one as much as I did. Once you’ve had a Boston, life is incomplete without one. So, when summer came and I had three months when I could devote time to proper training, I found Angelo in a newspaper ad. It said there were Boston puppies six weeks old, born on a farm less than twenty miles from us, ready for adoption. I picked the friendliest one. He came bounding over to me, licked my face, and captured my heart.

Angelo had a long and happy life. He lived through many transitions, including our retirement. He died a natural death of old age. After Angelo came Angela, the one who died of cancer. But, like I said, if you have a part of your happiness wrapped up in your relationship with your dog, it won’t be long before you have to find another.

TazE came via U-Ship.com from Indiana. She’s was a wild and crazy, frisky puppy. I was determined to have an Angel. That was what I called her after I bought her on-line, before she arrived here. As soon as I met her, though, I knew she was no angel! She’s a little ball of energy and has a mind of her own. Taz for the Tasmanian Devil… that’s her! At eight years of age, TazE has calmed down some. She stops jumping with excitement about ten minutes after she receives company. Come visit! You’ll see. And she’ll capture your heart, too.

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Learning to Live in Contentment


It’s a New Day

Are you facing trouble? Aren’t we all? We live in a troubled world! Whether the pain is physical or emotional,  it is real. Pain is a part of life, just as loss is an inevitable part of life. How can we live with trouble and still live in contentment? Each morning we wake up to a sunrise. It’s a new day! The sun may be hidden behind clouds of gray, but it is there – and the clouds will eventually move on so that we can enjoy the sunshine. Meantime, what do we do?

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You may have read my recent blog, “Stuck on Stupid.” The picture above is the red barn where our friends walked to try and find help. As they walked the two or more miles down the dirt road to look for help, a storm brewed. The thunder rolled, the lightening flashed, and no one was home at the red barn ranch except a terribly frightened dog. My husband had driven up a one-lane dirt road and got his pick-up stuck in the mud while backing up to make room for an approaching gravel truck to pass. The good news is that we eventually got out with the help of a tow-truck and rescued our friends before they got drenched. The bad news is, we should not have been going up that road to begin with. There was a sign that said, “Road Crew at Work.” That should have been our first clue!

Sometimes our troubles come because we failed to notice or heed the warning signs along the way, and we drove right into the pain – caused by our own … (no, it’s not always stupidity – but sometimes – well, I won’t go there!).

Other times, our pain has nothing to do with our own making. I spoke today to a friend, John, who is recovering from a horrible virus that attacked his muscles. John was a talented handyman. He is having to learn to use his muscles all over again.  “I can’t even drive a nail,” he complained. How can I encourage John to live in contentment?

Another friend is in the process of helping her elderly Aunt Edith move from her home of 30+ years into a retirement apartment across the state to be closer to family. Aunt Edith was a world traveler who had a home filled with precious souvenirs from her many adventures. With no children of her own, this dear widow has no one to whom she feels she can pass along those treasures, so she has sold most of them – and is moving away from 30 years of friends and memories. The sense of loss is enormous. How can I encourage Aunt Edith to live in contentment?

One of the inspirational writers from Guideposts magazine, Sharon Hinch, approached this subject in a book of daily encouragements for your soul, Mornings with Jesus, 2012.  She wrote, “During times of significant losses, as I’ve laid down things that were precious to me, I’ve found comfort in remembering that Jesus understands loss. He set aside the glories of heaven to come to earth… ”

Hinch used one of my favorite scriptures to make her point, Philippians 4:12-13  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content. In any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

In her Guideposts devotional, Hinch went on to explain, “Contentment sounds like such a deceptively mellow, easygoing word. But some days it takes fierce, stubborn courage to walk in it. For any of us facing painful loss… I pray for God to breathe the courage of gratitude into our hearts and keep nudging our focus back to Him.”

The key to encouraging John and Aunt Edith to live in contentment with their losses is to encourage them to live with gratitude for what they have. Live with hope for the promise of the sun behind the clouds to peek through, and with a focus on the One who understands our pain of loss – and who holds the promise for our futures in the palm of His gracious hand. It is a new day. Praise God!

Now – as far as the key to helping the ones who drive into harm’s way – on their own accord…

Heaven help us all!

Amen?

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