I Believe In Miracles

This year has been a challenge for me. Between health annoyances, the political climate that is tearing our country apart, the fear of the future in the hands of a Congress that gleefully ignores the pleas of constituents, a deficit that is poised to bloom, it has been a hard year. This is the year that I realized I’m forgetting about the big picture, that there’s more to the future than this world, that God is sovereign in all things, even in this dumpster fire of a year. I forget that a bigger plan is unfolding.We can’t see it because we’re not supposed to. God is here. He always has been. Hang on. Hang on to one another, hang on to hope. And look for the little miracles. And the big ones. Because they are there.

This year has been especially hard for personal reasons. I learned that one of my kids was struggling, really struggling. Hitting high school is hard. Going to a high school with an accelerated curriculum and where you know almost no one? Where it seems like everyone else has hit their growth spurt and their groove? It’s not just hard but lonely. My sweet child, this little person who is now a big person, is trying to find himself, trying to find his sea legs and develop his own identity. It’s not easy to watch.

He came to me right before Thanksgiving and said “I want a dog.” He may as well have said he wanted to join the circus. My gut reaction? Ain’t no way. We have a dog, I said. He raised an eyebrow. Okay, I must concede. My Phoebe is basically a four-legged slug with hair. She doesn’t even get off the chair unless there’s food in it for her. Good food, too, not some wayward Corn Chex. But we don’t need another dog. We have four cats, a Phoebe, a room full of snakes, and a metric crap-ton of tortoises. We don’t need another dog. We already have this:

Love me. Just don’t make me get up.

Ever notice how sometimes we don’t know what we need until we get it?

I casually mentioned to my friend that shows dogs that perhaps, maybe, in the Spring or summer, we might be interested in looking for a dog. Not show quality. A pet from a quality breeder. Sometimes a breeders’ show prospect doesn’t turn out. Maybe a bite goes off, or a coat is the wrong texture, or maybe the dog doesn’t have the personality to enjoy showing. And that would be a win for me. A dog from a good breeder with health guarantees, but also I WOULDN’T HAVE TO LIVE WITH A PUPPY! I love dogs, but I don’t enjoy puppyhood.

My friend said she would make some calls and see what she could do. And through God and a friend of a friend of a friend, a week later I brought this miracle home:

Lumen

And as it turns out, the thing I did not want became the thing I knew we needed. I knew through the series of texts with her owner that she was meant for us. I bought a crate before I ever met her in person, and then when I met her, I prayed. Please, God, let her owners approve of us. Let us get to take her home. She was ours before I ever touched her.

She’s so perfect for us. Seven years old, German working background, retired from breeding, OFA certified (that means her hips are A-OK), eyes are certified, temperament-tested, a velcro-dog who wants to be with her owner every second of every day. Within 24 hours, she was so tightly bonded with my son that she casually waited outside the bathroom door while he showered.

She’s a traitor. I tell her to go get my son up in the morning, and she lays on top of him so that he can’t move. And lays a paw on his chest when he tries to get up. We’re working on it.

She has gotten me off my butt. I walk her every morning. Son is not hiding in his room anymore, either, because she needs a walk in the afternoon.

She’s hard on toys. And picky. She likes squeak toys, but they can’t JUST squeak. She prefers that they are soft, too. And they last 3.2 seconds. She squeaks, we throw, she squeaks, we throw, she ducks behind the table to the murder-spot and kills the toy dead. Wubba lasted three days. Long live the Wubba. Tuffy toys don’t last, either. But I like a challenge, and my new goal is to find squeak toys that she can’t kill. Any recommendations are welcome.

She is a miracle, this giant girl. The miracle I needed to cap this year, a miracle that lets me know that no matter how dark it seems, the light is there. There are miracles waiting to happen – for me, for you, for our country, for our world. This miracle is mine, but I will share her with you. What miracle will you share with me?

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Why I Don’t Fly.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending the day with Nina, a delightful breeder of English Cocker Spaniels from Finland. She had come to the US to bring over a couple of puppies and to take back with her a handsome champion male on breeding loan. She was staying with my friend who bred the puppies in the above link, and she needed a companion for the day. Squish and I took her to the mall per her request. Nina has a tremendous sense of humor and has a great take on American life, so I was sad to have to drop her off to catch her ride to the airport.

I'd rather walk, thanks.

I’d rather walk, thanks.

A few minutes after arriving home, I received a call from my friend, Kay. “Nina needs you to check your car. She can’t find the rabies and health certificates!” In case you’re not in the know, those things are kind of important for flying a dog anywhere, and the flight left in an hour and a half. I dashed to Kay’s house and located the papers, which appeared to have fallen out on the table. Eek! Kay’s daughter helped me pony express them to the airport (I drive like old people in the rain. Did I mention it was pouring rain?)

A couple of hours later, I called Kay to make sure all was well. She laughed. Apparently the nice folks at the ticket counter had refused to put the dog on the flight because he lacked an acclimation certificate, something none of us had ever heard of. It’s not even mentioned on their website. He apparently needed certification from a vet that he could fly into a cold location.

I may be going out on a limb here, but isn’t he a dog? With a thick fur coat? And don’t the temperatures here drop fairly quickly? Like, it was 70 degrees on Sunday and 40 on Monday? And he wasn’t exactly flying to Antarctica. But whatever. Airline wants what it wants. Nina and Spence were here for another night.

I picked up Nina and Spence the next day to take them to the airport myself. She was totally prepared, having acquired the necessary certificate at a vet’s office the night before. All papers were neatly tucked in a secure location. What could go wrong? Hmm. Let’s see.

The acclimation certificate was filled out incorrectly and was, therefore, useless. It was an unusual request for the vet’s office, which is why the mistake was made. The vet indicated that the dog should not fly below temperatures of 32 degrees. The temperature in Helsinki was 11 degrees. No shipping. Ironically, the airline themselves would ship down to 10 degrees, so it was the certificate itself that prevented him from getting on the plane. It took 45 minutes and a call to the vet to sort this part out.

We considered putting Squish in the crate and sending Spence home with me because there are fewer restrictions on flying human children.

The language barrier.  Airlines have a language of their own. It looks like English, but it isn’t.

When the website says the dog must have a water bowl, it translates”you are required to bring a water bottle, as well.”

If the animal will need to be fed, food must be provided.”  doesn’t mean “If you want your dog fed on the trip, bring food.” In airport language, it means “If you don’t have food, your dog stays on the ground.”

Many dogs are fed once a day, and not at all during transport to prevent illness. Spence had no food with him. The nice lady at the counter said “This dog is not getting on the plane without a packet of food and a water bottle.” Squish and I made a mad dash to a Wal-mart to buy some little bags of food. The airline folks said they didn’t even care if they were just dog treats, which just goes to show it’s all about regulations, not the actual health and well-being of the animal. Glad we got that part sorted out.

We arrived back at the airport and handed off the food just as Nina’s flight was being called, two hours after we first started trying to get her off the ground. I was lucky. I got to go home. She still had to face customs in Amsterdam.

From now on,, I’ll leave it to the experts. Check out Animal Couriers. They make it look like fun. I wonder if they would ever ship people. I’m due for a vacation.

 

 

Easing You Into Monday

It’s me here! Ready to make your Monday a little less awful!

Last Monday I featured something you never thought you’d see on my blog. MAMMALS! We visited with a litter of newborn English cocker spaniel puppies. Guess what? They’ve grown like little monsters. Don’t believe me? Check it out.

At two weeks of age, their eyes are opening.

LOOK! Peepers!

And they’re taking their first wobbly steps.

She’s still pretty unsteady on her pins.

But they still do a lot of this:

Look at how much pigment has appeared in their tiny little noses. Their heads are lovely. They have potential to be wonderful show dogs.

 

Hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago, the puppy on the right looked like this:

So tiny.

Jill  requested an update when they started playing. I aim to please, you know!

 

and then there’s this one:

 

Happy Monday, friends!

 

 

Rules For the Farmers Market

 

See the bunny in the strawberry plants?

1) The path between vendor booths is less than 10 feet wide. Please leave your triple-wide stroller at home. It’s a farmers market. Buy a sling or an Ergo and get in touch with your inner Earth Mother.

2) Please do not allow your toddler to orbit around said stroller as you are shopping. You brought it,  so make me hate you less. Strap them in it before I trip over them and spill my hot coffee on their head.

3) Leave the scooters and bicycles at home. Yes, your children are just precious in their little helmets, but really?  Unless you are hiring them out as couriers in New York City during the week, they don’t have the skills to dodge in and out of a big crowd at top speed. Again. My coffee. It’s expensive. And hot.

4) Leave your flexi-lead at home. I’ve met very few dogs who can handle the exciting sights and smells of a crowded market without the occasional reminder. It’s hard to limbo under your leash with a bag of tomatoes on my arm and a baby on my back.  By the same token, if your dog has little to no obedience training, leave them home altogether. Same goes for dogs who are aggressive toward people or other dogs.

5) Don’t hand your large half-trained puppy’s leash to your child. Kids and puppies are so cute together. Except in crowded places where puppy is terrified and child is distracted. Puppy isn’t having as much fun as you think he is.

6) Keep your large dog from sniffing my crotch, and I’ll keep my toddler from punching yours.

7) If your dog/kid takes a dump, please clean it up. People are eating. And we’re watching you. Because we have nothing better to do.

8 ) Please don’t smoke in the middle of the market. I realize it is an open-air market. But your right to smoke in a crowded public place translates to my right to eat some really bad sushi, follow you around and do what comes naturally after eating really bad sushi. Care to negotiate?

9) Please don’t strip your child naked and let them play in the fountains. It’s not that I’m not a prude. Though, maybe I am. But if they’re young enough to be naked in public, they’re too young to know not to pee where they play. Or worse. Please see number seven.

10) If you are dressed in period costume for the history fair and you are sporting a musket, fair warning that you are about to fire the thing is appreciated. I bring a change of undergarments for my toddler, but not for me.