As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Thinking on These Things

For over a week now, I have received daily emails or phone calls from people I love, and who obviously love me, asking how I am doing. It is so good to be loved, but I’ll tell you something. I’m tired of telling people how I feel. I’m tired of the focus, so I am choosing to focus on happier things.

The temperatures have finally broken here in Texas. The 100+ weather has finally given way to low 90s and high 80s. As I type this from my deck, I am quite comfortable with the late afternoon temperatures. Two weeks ago, I jokingly told our neighbor Chris, who allows us the luxury of being bio-filters for his pool, that we needed to use it as frequently as possible since the weather was cooling so quickly. It was 103+ that day. Since then, we haven’t seen 100. I don’t know anyone who is saddened by this.

With the cooler temperatures, rain has blessed us almost weekly. Last week we were blessed with over a solid day of soaking rain. The vegetation has responded gloriously. Our gerbera daisies are expressing their gratitude with lovely blooms. Our red “thing” near our daisy bed is also blooming with exuberance. The grass is alive again, and it is wonderful to see the green sprouts breaking up the mostly dead landscape that has become our yards.

Due to the drought we’ve been in, we’ve also been in a season of water conservation. We’ve taken this pretty seriously. We have been diligent to water the flowers in the flowerbeds and flower pots. Some have succumbed to the overbearing heat. Some have endured, but the look the worse for wear, and some have thrived. The ivy that I got when my dad passed on was looking pretty shabby in my study, but in the intense heat on the deck, it has not only perked up but grown a 3-foot runner! I chuckle knowing it will now not fit in the same place in my study.

Some plants have struggled, not due to the heat, but due to Fred. Two of my favorite tall plants were chosen as chew toys. While I have “saved” them from the jaws of the dog, they were broken and are having to recuperate. Thankfully, they seem to be sprouting wonderfully and may be better off than they were before. One is highly questionable, but it is simply not getting the thing back into dirt when I should have. I can’t blame that on Fred. It is my own lack of attention.

Speaking of Fred, it has been some time since I mentioned him. All 30 pounds of him are doing well. Yes, 30 pounds. Our “probably as big as 15-pound” dog is 30 pounds and may still grow a bit, but our vet feels sure that Fred is about peaked out for height and other than muscling-up, he is about as big as he will get. That was the word last week when Fred had to spend the night at the vet. As of last week, Fred was left unable to have puppies. While I understand the reasons for this, it saddens me a bit. Fred reminds me of a book Robert and I read called “The Unexpected Family”. It has a line that says, “He wasn’t what she expected, but she loved him anyway.” That is Fred. We never planned to have a 30-pound dog. He really isn’t what we would have chosen for a dog. He certainly is not what we expected, but we love him anyway.

The road with Fred has been a bumpy one. After we got through the distemper, we had another scare. Fred started chewing on his tail. It wasn’t just chewing the hair off. Fred mutilated his tail. When I called our vet, Larry assured me that allergies cause chewing and some cortisone would fix it right up. However, when Larry looked at Fred, Larry said, “Well, allergies are one thing, but sometimes we run into dogs with a neuropathy.” Simply explained: sometimes dogs just mutilate their tails and their tails have to be amputated. I was okay with that. It wasn’t my idea of fun, but it wasn’t the nightmare we had been through with the other puppies.

Then I had a question. “Larry, is this just because he’s a weird dog or because of the distemper? We were warned to watch for weird behavior. This is pretty weird. Is this an effect of distemper in his brain? Will amputating his tail stop him from mutilating any other part of him, or will he just move to something else?”

The answer was one that only 40-years of veterinary experience could give. Larry smiled at me, patted Fred on the back, and said, “Jerri, let’s give him a cortisone shot with some topical treatment and see what life is like in 48 hours.” I nodded.

When I left, Larry said if things weren’t better in 48 hours to call so we could schedule surgery for the next week. Again, I nodded.

Forty-eight hours later, Fred had quit biting his tail, and we were feeling optimistic. By the next week, we were seeing signs of healing. Now, the tail has hair on it as well. You’d never know anything was wrong.

Life is amazing, isn’t it?

So we have our healthy Fred, who, as Rob says, is the comical relief for the family. When I sweep, I have to put him outside so he doesn’t chase and attack the broom. Mopping is so funny because he slides around while chasing the mop. He thinks the vacuum will suck him up, but if I leave it on while I do something, he sits on it. I keep telling him that is not a good idea considering the tail trauma he has already endured. When we try to wash the deck, he attacks the water from the hose, and you should see the sticks I have to take back outside after he brings them in.

Fred and I start our day by wearing him down with a game of catch. First, we find all his tennis balls. Then I throw them until he trots by me with one in his mouth and carries it into the house where he drops it by his water bowl. Then he drops himself on the cold tile in the kitchen. Rob takes him for long walks, and one day Fred pulled Rob while Rob rode on a scooter belonging to one of the kids.

The funniest part is Fred’s unwillingness or inability to accept that he is not a lapdog. In the early morning after we’ve worn ourselves down playing ball, I will try to have quiet time either on the deck or in the study, and he comes in and sits his head on my lap. That is sweet. Then he puts his front legs and upper torso in my lap, which is nice. Then he places one huge back paw on one of my knees and slips up into my lap where he rolls over so he is lying like a baby in one of my arms and one of his sides is facing up for me to scratch. He then licks me sweetly or puts his muzzle against my neck and lies there.

No, Fred isn’t what we expected, but we definitely love him anyway.

And that is a pretty nice thing to think about on a glorious afternoon in Texas.

Praying you have such wonderful things to think about, too, and praying we all take more time to think about them……

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