‘Paws’ for thought

    The anonymous author who penned “Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree” also should have added dogs to that discipline philosophy.
    In my neck of the woods, I’m quite sure the few smart brain cells my canines did have fell out and into the hole where they buried the last meaty beef rib bones I doled out to them.
    That deduction would at least explain why “Dot” and “Cash” seemingly never can find their secret stashes again.
    It also might explain why Cash evidently didn’t remember what happened the first time a skunk lifted its tail in his face two months ago—as he rolled around and drove his face into the grass 16 times Saturday night after a second ill-fated chase.
    What I know for sure is that all the hours of my hard work under the sun were destroyed by the likes of two tomfoolery dogs not nailed to a tree.
    Dot is a mix of fox terrier and border collie. In other words, a digger that understands 500 words—with the exception of “No,” “Come Here,” and “Stay out of my garden.”
    Cash is all Labrador retriever and could outswim a fish if the prize was something to eat. If only he would just learn the meaning of “No,” “Come Here,” and “Stay out of my garden.”
    Though I’d been gardening since early May, I was busy connecting again with Mother Earth over the long weekend planting orphaned flowers rescued from local greenhouses as they geared up to empty out their nurseries of the over-rooted six packs of plants bypassed by other green thumbs.
    That’s when I saw Dot make a beeline for a small propane tank situated at the side of the house where I was gardening, her nose then jammed in a small air space underneath.
    That’s when I heard it—the telltale squeak of a mouse that also had prompted Dot to crank her front paws into dig mode.
    “No!” I scolded, thwarting the excavation of new ferns and flowers I’d just finished planting close by.
    In my wisdom, I decided to encourage the little critter to exit his hideaway by poking a broomstick under there, which would send it scurrying onto the lawn and into whatever fate awaited.
    Cash loped over, dripping wet from a swim in the creek to check out Dot’s mission, and joined the ridged and shivering canine with equal anticipation, forgetting to shake off his excess coat of water.
    I poked the broomstick under the tank.
    I had about a two-second warning, during which time my brain processed the impending swath of destruction of everything I’d just spent hours working on.
    All of a sudden, a little brown body with saucer eyes, a furry tail, and the telltale signs of a chipmunk stripe bolted out from under the tank and down the flower bed.
    Have you ever seen someone shouting in slow motion in a movie during a fleeting action scene?
    “Nooooooooo!”—three octaves lower than my normal voice—spilled out of me and my eyes popped out of my head as the dogs, in hot pursuit of the frantic chipmunk, trampled all the delphiniums that had been standing proud and tall in their transplant.
    And as most any panicked animal would do, the little chipmunk took the closest exit from terror and ran at the speed of light through the open porch door and down the basement stairs, followed within a tail hair by two barking dogs—one of which was soaking wet.
    If I hadn’t known where the trio had gone, I would have first checked the toilet to make sure “Chipster” wasn’t swimming in the bowl like his town cousin recently did while visiting Jack Elliott’s house in Rainy River.
    (But then we put the seat down at our house, Jack).
    Luckily for the chipmunk, it eluded the dogs altogether and in the end (though I’d assumed a successful escape back up the stairs and into the free world during the pursuers’ pit stop at the open bag of dog food in the basement), the chipmunk had, in fact, chewed a hole through a storage bag containing Christmas garland, where it was a stowaway for more than an hour.
    I managed to haul the bag outside before the chipmunk shot out of the hole and across the yard—much to the dismay of two dogs, locked just then in their kennel (paused for thought) after I found them eating the uprooted flowers I could have salvaged from the chipmunk chase.
    Alas, the dogs days of summer are here.

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‘Paws’ for thought

Dear Mike:
In our busyness, each day too easily blurs from one to the next with no significance—nothing setting it apart from yesterday other than it’s one day closer to the next pay cheque or the next day off . . . until it happens.
Our day is turned upside down, our peaceful, complacent peace of mind is shattered, when we are forced to deal with the loss of a special pet. Our everyday routines become foreign and painful. We feel out of sorts, lost, secretly vulnerable, overwhelmed, and undeniably alone.
With the many changes that are taking place in our family, the last thing I needed was to lose my best friend, Taz.
Dogs have always been a huge part of our family, and always will be. You probably remember Conan going to work with Chris every day, surveying the countryside and assessing the well-being of the livestock in the district from the safety of his Jeep (less a few seatbelts, of course).
Taz didn’t have the wonderful personality Conan did, though. He was protective to a fault and feared by many—for good reason. Nonetheless, we loved him and he loved us in such a way that we had never experienced before.
I feel, though, that our pets have something very important that they are able (and perhaps trying) to teach us.
If you’ve ever buried your face in the neck of your dog, or curled up with him in bed, or just felt his loving, adoring eyes upon you (worshipping you regardless of your faults or your mood, looking for some way to please you), then you know what I’m talking about.
It had occurred to me a number of times over the past few months that Taz was God’s way of giving me a hug. He was always with me, always watching me, always at my feet, and always ready to love me whenever I needed—especially if I picked up his rope or grabbed the car keys!
I always have believed that God is able to work all things for the good when we love Him, but it was hard to see the good that could come from Tazzie’s death. Blessings have, nonetheless, come from knowing and loving him. One wonderful blessing comes in the realization that, just as Taz was there at every second of every day, ready for me to call his name, so, too, is God for us.
Our dogs are such a wonderful reminder in our everyday lives that God is always watching, always listening, and always cares for us regardless of our “humanness”—ready to love us unconditionally in spite of ourselves.
Our dogs also can teach us how to love God back—the very same way they love us. The only difference is that God calls on us to have faith in His presence and His love.
When we look up, God is there. When we call out, God will listen and He knows what’s best for us—just as we profess to know what’s best for our pets.
Just as we expect, and require, our pets to surrender their will for ours, so too does God require this of us so that He can bring peace and true happiness to our lives.
I believe God also expects us to love and serve each other with as much devotion and dedication as our pets give us.
While our days on this earth are numbered, we should know that this is just a temporary stop in the grand scheme of our lives, and that to waste even one day on this earth—or to let another day just slip by as just another insignificant one—is a crime and a waste of the precious life that God has given us.
Is your dog sitting patiently at your feet, worshipping and adoring you? Maybe you should get down on the floor and give him a hug. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel the presence of your God hugging you back!
Enjoy this day—it’s God’s precious gift to you!
(Signed),
Donna Cannon