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Therapy Thursday: Share the Joy

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Last Thursday, Willie had three therapy dogs visits! He went the nursing home as usual. It’s great that more and more of the residents are recognizing us and looking forward to our visits! He also checked in on the people who are in the same office building as our church, including the mail lady. Willie really likes to see her because her truck smells so good.

Then, Willie had his first educational visit with an after school program at Park North Apartments. Park North Apartments are a government subsidies housing facility. They have a small library and computers for residents to come after school so that they have a place to do their homework as well as relax. They are also one of the recipients of our Little Free Libraries, so that students can check out books and take them home to read.

As you can tell by the picture, Willie had a blast. He showed off all his tricks, including sit, down, stay, wait, catch, up, and find. He did tricks when some of the students took the reigns and issued commands as well. His favorite was find where all the kids hold out their fists and he has to sniff out the treats!

As his handler, this was a wonderful experience for me. It was awesome to be able to reconnect with the children where we put the Little Free Library, but there was something even more than that for me. The students I used to teach came from apartment complexes just like this one (except there wasn’t a place where they could hang out after school) and so to be able to come to see them and bring smiles to their faces by sharing Willie’s good spirit and love was awesome.

We love Therapy Thursdays and would be glad to add you to our schedule! Just let us know where and when!

 

National Running Day

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I thought I was going to miss out on National Running Day.

On Monday, I was taking the pups for a long run when Waylon decided that he was going to say hey to a security guard on the trail. He crossed in front of me (a big no no, for leash training) and I wiggle stepped on the side of the sidewalk and faceplanted. Yes, I mean all the way down, sprawled out on the trail. The security guard saw me and helped me up and we all hobbled back to the car. Waylon seemed unaffected by the whole incident. Willie was very concerned and confused by the whole experience.

This isn’t the first time that my love of running and playing sports has lead to this kind of mishap (when my mom watched me play basketball, she used to say that I didn’t need to mop the floor, they would do that after the game because I spent some much time sprawled on the court), and I am sure it won’t be the last. When you love something enough, you’re bound to incur some scars and bruises from that love. For me, it only makes me want to try to get back to a nice run more. It made running seem a little less available. I had to pay attention to taking care of my leg and foot in order to get them back into good shape.

This morning, braced and bandaid-ed I hit the trail again. Although I debated not bringing the dogs, I knew what our running time meant to them, too (although I did watch Waylon much more carefully). So, I did get to go running on National Running Day, and I got to take my running partners with me.

Even when you fall or fail, getting back up and being able to run again is the only option when it’s really something you love.

Saturday Sounds

Dog collars against dog leash.

Birds heylookiehereherehere heylookiehereherehere.

Lawnmowers starting.

Car doors opening. Saturday greetings.

Aggravated Owner Lady come here! Leave those dogs alone. 

Dogs happy panting.

Birds whirlywhirlywhirlydo whirlywhirlywhirlydo. 

Water hoses spraying freshly cleaned cars.

Dogs’ toenails clicking on asphalt.

Chihuahuas yapping.

Home hellos.

Tired dogs’ snores.

Walk at Dusk

The pups and I are usually morning walkers or runners, so it was strange to take them out tonight as the day faded into night. We watched as families came together and peeked in at what they were having for dinner. In some cases, we could even smell what was cooking.

It seems odd to be able to see a glimpse into the lives that the people around you live, but then you realize that your life is not all that different than the people who drive the same streets as you do and fill up their gas tanks at the same gas station as you do. Then, the shocking realization comes that if you were to see the people who have the same mail carrier as you do, you wouldn’t recognize them. You don’t know your neighbors.

I know it’s a different world than when Jesus lived, but this is unsettling to me. We do know our immediate neighbors, but we don’t know much past that. They would never know I was a minister. Maybe, this walk at dusk is just what I needed to open my eyes to the people around me.

Running through the Cool Down

Last week during my weeklong intensive, I wasn’t able to run as per usual. I found myself getting more and more antsy as the days wore on and I found myself much more restless when it came time to go to sleep.

It’s funny how you don’t realize the activities that keep you grounded and balanced until they are changed for some reason. Taking those balancing agents away for even a short period of time can throw you off balance and make you wonder why you don’t feel like yourself, but I’ve also found that taking those activities away from a time can help identify and reveal the power of simple activities in inspiring and sustaining yourself.

Why is this important?

Because inevitably, life throws curve balls, unexpected twists and turns and when that happens putting on your running shoes and your split leash harness for your four-legged running buddies can bring you back home; can help you remember why you can breathe into whatever the next step of life is.

That was today’s run for me.

As we approached the house, I picked a sign and told my mind and body to run through that sign and then I could cool down, but what happened was that when the sign came and went I found my legs kept running and didn’t stop. I ran through my cool down. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does,  I feel certain my body is telling my spirit and mind to realign and to reassure the uncertain me that we can keep going. We can keep on keeping on.

Watching Waylon

As Waylon nears his first birthday, I am feeling a little nostalgic.

Having two dogs has certainly been a great decision for our family especially since Waylon and Willie have such different temperaments. Willie is an over-eager pleaser and Waylon is well, most often known as grumpy dog. He goes at his own pace and hardly ever can be coaxed into anything he hasn’t already decided he is interested in…except walks.

When Willie and I first started taking him on our walking/running adventures, we had to revise our plan because after about half a mile, Waylon would get tired and literally sit in the middle of the path and not move. It cramped our style!

Waylon has come to love our runs and walks as much as Willie does, but he makes the experience interesting. He wants to be in charge and he really isn’t bothered if he has to drag his human and brother behind him. He is particularly hard to handle when he approaches the  fence of another dog.

I am not sure how it happens, but he simultaneously runs towards the fence and away from the fence whining and whimpering the whole time. There is no way to tell if he was let off the leash if he would try to attack the other dog, lick the other dog, play with the other dog or simply run away. It’s as if he paralyzed in the indecision of which is the best option dragging his human and brother along on his path of indecision.

It made me think of this today as we walked because I saw all the signs…he ducked his head…raised his tail and began a slow creep. I racked my brain trying to figure out if there was a dog in one of the houses that we were passing, but there wasn’t. I followed Waylon’s eyes only to burst out laughing,

He was slowly tracking and beginning to growl at the wind chimes hanging from the tree we were passing. It’s easy to forget that the world I have experienced in my 28 years is full of just these moments of confronting something new and having to try to process how to approach this new thing.

For Waylon, the sound of the wind chimes sounded like maybe another dog’s collar or a dog’s leash or something else threatening. He decided to be cautious and watchful just in case.

I wonder if I do the same when I approach something new.

A Cozy Cocoon

As sit on this last day of 2013 trying to allow my body to overcome whatever bug it is currently fighting and enjoy reading other people’s reflections of their year, I thought I’d try the same. To say this year has been full of changes is a gross understatement.

This year I have:

  • become a puppy mom
  • become a pulpit supply preacher
  • gotten engaged
  • learned both Hebrew and Greek (at least partially)
  • become a puppy mom again
  • become a pastor
  • gotten married to the man of my dreams (yes, you can get engaged and married in the same year!)
  • become a mom to two precious daughters
  • become a reverend
  • become a book publisher

Looking at that list, I think the bug I have might be fatigue!

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a year like I have this year, when it seems that you’re life has meaning and purpose. If you have, treasure it, as I will. If you haven’t, tomorrow starts a new year with new hope and new beginnings, make it worthwhile.

As I am nestled here in my cozy cocoon taking it easy, I realize I am blessed to be nestled in a cocoon of love, peace, and hope thanks to a husband who believes in me and continues to support my crazy dreams and a church who dares to be different.

May you soon be nestled in a similar cocoon, so you can open your wings and see the beauty of the world.

Our Shelter Dogs

This Christmas, Sam and I are celebrating with two new members of our family: Willie and Waylon. As we have both watched the ads for adopting puppies, we have almost convinced ourselves that we could take on another one . . . almost : )

Willie
Willie on the day we adopted him
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Waylon on the day we adopted him

I was just looking at the Barnes and Noble list of suggested books and I was amazed at how many books there were about dogs, but I understand now. I understand the way a dog can transform your life and make you feel more invested in the world around you.

Sure, we are currently missing a piece of our nativity scene and have a trench in our backyard because the puppies decided that our house needed a moat, but it’s those things that are frustrating at the time that make you slow down and wonder about how cool having a moat really would be.

This Christmas, our first as a married couple, we’re excited that there will be slobbering puppies to celebrate with our human families. We have no doubt they will keep things interesting and help us understand more about what Christmas truly means.

On a walk a couple of weeks ago in downtown Columbia
On a walk a couple of weeks ago in downtown Columbia

Pulled in Two Directions

Running has become an interesting experience. Willie and I have been running for 6 months together. Waylon and I went on our third run today. Waylon has always run with me and Willie. He’s done pretty well for a new pup and a new pup to running; however, having Willie ready to go and Waylon a little more hesitant means that I am pulled in two directions, literally. 

I’ve felt this in life as I was responsible to different people and time commitments (and blogs), but today was the first time I felt that literally. I had two choices: push ahead or slow down and try to balance the two pups speeds and experience. 

I chose to slow down just a little bit and not to run as far as I planned because I don’t want running to be an experience for Waylon that is miserable. I want him to enjoy it as much as Willie as I do, which means that we have to be understanding as he learns and grows. I am sure he’ll get there. We just have to slow down and enjoy watching him grow!