My only question: Was the box full or empty when the dogs tore into it?


A Tale of Two Tails

A guest post by Ken

It’s interesting how Buddy & Holly’s personalities affect their perspectives.

Holly is the lead dog and she has to be in charge. She likes to stay busy. Whatever Buddy is playing with, she needs to have it – right now.

Buddy is the affectionate and laid-back one. He’s the snuggler. He follows his sister’s lead and is quite content with whatever comes his way. Except for squirrels – they still drive him nuts.

But both our dogs like to chew anything and everything: toys, sticks, shoes, towels, and furniture. So it only made sense when we had t-bone steaks to give the bones to Buddy & Holly. They each were given a bone to enjoy. Their responses were interesting to me.

First, I approached Holly, but as I drew near she tensed. Pulling the bone away and turning her back to me, her body language clearly said, “Please don’t take this away. I’m really enjoying this and I don’t want you to ruin it.” I was tempted to chastise Holly, “I don’t want your bone. I gave you that bone. I just want to be with you and make you happy.” 

I was cautious as I moved toward Buddy. I didn’t want to spoil his treat. But I didn’t need to worry for long. As soon as he saw me he crawled forward with the bone still in his mouth. His tale started wagging furiously. He proudly held up the bone in his mouth as if to say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is so great! Would you like to have some? You gotta try this!”

Don’t get me wrong: both our dogs are great – even when they are running around the house with muddy paws. Yet the puppies reminded me of the importance of my outlook on life. I wish I were always like Buddy when God draws near: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! God you are so great! Thank you for all you’ve done for me!” But in my honest but “less spiritual” moments I find myself afraid and agreeing more with Holly: “Lord, please don’t take the good things in my life away.” or “I’m really enjoying this moment God and I don’t want you to ruin it.”

Lord, forgive me for doubting your goodness. May I welcome you in and invite you to enjoy both the good and the bad in my life. Help me to trust you more. I realize that every good and perfect gift comes from you so… when I am chewing on a bone, may my tail always be wagging!

Dumpster Diving for Something to Chew On

Our dogs are chewers. When they were puppies, they ate shoes, pillows, and kitchen cabinets. Then in early 2008, we went on a trip to California, and left them with a housesitter who came home to this:   






They had not only torn off the ends of the love seat, they had ripped open the cushions and shredded the stuffing inside. They also ate each of the corners off of the throw pillows. They also tore into the matching couch as well. Did I mention that the couch and love seat set were only a few weeks old?

Apparently the dogs were a bit angry.

Ever since then, we have tried to head off the dogs’ inner chewing desires by providing them with a plentiful supply of dog toys to chew through. However, since they can tear apart a chew toy in less than a minute, it’s hard for the supply to keep up with the demand. I used to scour clearance racks in pet stores and websites for cheap toy deals, until I discovered the ultimate dog toy supply store:

Goodwill Outlet.

Goodwill has an outlet? Why yes. Yes it does.

Goodwill Outlet is the purgatory of donated goods. The merchandise has been featured in a regular Goodwill store, but hasn’t been purchased, so it is then taken to the Goodwill Outlet, where the wares are offered up by the pound, in hopes of selling to the best of the dumpster divers. In fact, the more you buy, the cheaper the price per pound.

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The merchandise is no longer presented in size and color-coordinated displays, but tossed into bins that are wheeled into lines, where hoarders and bargain hunters alike dig through the piles of random merchandise. Shopping at Goodwill Outlet is WORK.

At the same time, we have occasionally found some very good treasures. A nearly-new Kate Spade purse, a Lilly Pulitzer blouse, a lacrosse stick with the tags still on it. The thing that Goodwill Outlet is best for is selling lots of things that no one wants to buy at Goodwill, such as: crutches, shoes, golf clubs, exercise equipment, As-Seen-On-TV cast-offs,and stuffed animals.

Oh yes, they sell stuffed animals BY THE POUND.

Of course stuffed animals don’t weigh much, so we can get a shopping cart full of them for less than $30. That will last us 6 months, and is much cheaper than buying new furniture.

So, Saturday, Ken and I braved the land of the lost and the home of the hoarders as we loaded up on dog toys to last the next few months. Our stuffed animals have made their way home from the store, have been washed and dried, and have now arrived in the place of fulfilling their final stuffed animal destiny: keeping our furniture safe from the destructive jowls of our gruesome twosome.

Love Unscheduled

Five years ago, we brought two 8-lb Labrador retriever puppies into our home. They were a little bigger than the size of a bag of sugar, and perfect packages of puppy-smelling fuzzy love.

We gave them names that matched: Buddy and Holly. While they were from the same litter, they could not be any more different.

Buddy is 95 pounds of nap-loving, drooling bliss. He loves kisses, snuggles, and hearing his name. He wags his tail if I come within 15 feet of where he is. He wags his tail when I sneeze or smile. He wiggles and wags his tail when he falls off the bed, or when he runs in to trash cans while on a walk. He’s terrified of the sound of a fork on a plate, fireworks, and being in the kitchen. But his fears are balanced by his abundance of love. When we take him out in public, he beams with excitement with every new person he meets, as if the purpose of the existence of others is merely so Buddy can love them. He isn’t the most intelligent dog, but you won’t find one who is better natured, at least 98% of the time. The other 2% is in the morning when he first wakes up. He’s not exactly a “morning dog.”

Holly is much more the morning dog. She lies wide-eyed in wait for my alarm to go off in the morning, so that she can pounce on both Ken and I and lick us into a wakeful state before she attacks Buddy with the same enthusiasm – hence his grumpiness. Holly has no snooze button, and the word “Saturday” means nothing to her. She is incredibly easy to train, very intelligent, and we’re pretty sure she understands most of what we say. At times we are thankful that she doesn’t have opposable thumbs, because we’re fairly certain she would lock us out and have the house to herself. She is our “busy girl” and is very scheduled, knowing when it is time to wake, sleep, walk, eat, and even when she wants affection. She has specific times in the day that we are allowed to lavish affection on her, but she is not receptive if she’s not in the mood. Try to pet her or scratch behind her ears at the wrong time, and we’ll get a sneeze of disgust or she’ll merely leave the room. We believe she may be part cat.

Two different dogs from the same litter, and we love them both dearly.

At times, I see my relationship with God in my dogs. In all of my scheduling, discipline, and planning, do I leave enough time for spontaneous expressions of love for my Heavenly Father? Do I wiggle with delight when God’s presence is even near? While it is wonderful to have scheduled times of devotion and reflection, are those the only times of the day when I express my love toward God, and open my heart for His love toward me? I know it bothers me that I can’t lavish affection on Holly unless it’s the right time of day, or if she’s in the right frame of mind. I wonder if God is offended when I quarantine His presence to a designated time on my calendar.  It’s not that I don’t love Holly, it’s just that she makes loving her more difficult. How many times have I missed God’s expressions of love for me because I’m a “busy girl”?

The more I know and love God, the more I realize that the love of God will not be quarantined. Either I am open to Him, or I will miss out. And in response, I want to lavish reckless amount of love on God, as if the only reason for my existence was just to love Him.

Even if it’s not on schedule.