Foster Dog Revisited 6

A continuation of the Foster Dog tweets:

Oslo, Norway: Foster Dog narrowly defeated for Nobel Peace Prize. Insiders report attitude towards squirrels as a major factor.

Foster Dog seen wearing admission bracelet for ACU Homecoming Carnival. Any small children missing in the area?

Despite discovery of fibers matching those from tether in her teeth, Foster Dog denies complicity in balloon boy hoax, her agent reports.

Celebrity status brings pressure. Foster Dog considering endorsement deal . . . Foster Dog Grant Sunglasses, of course!

Discussing Halloween costumes with Foster Dog. I’m thinking Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader probably isn’t the best look for her.

Foster Dog settled on costume: Fire Dog. Then found cost of renting fire truck prohibitive. Wishes she hadn’t used permanent ink for spots.

Foster Dog Revisited 5

A continuation of the Foster Dog tweets:

Quick trip to Ft. Worth. Told Foster Dog I was going to “Cowtown.” It’s obvious that she’s expecting me to bring a cow home for dinner.

Having no cow-in-tow, I was subjected to Foster Dog’s reenactment of the Bataan Death March tonight on our walk. No mercy for laggards!

Foster Dog asleep in the grass. Slowly rolls on her back with legs skyward. Sudden sneeze launches her to a classic hunting pose. Intrepid!

Our walk was diverted to the video store. Foster Dog picked “Wolverine” for some reason. Jeremy picked popcorn & candy. I picked up the tab.

Burgers grilling. Foster Dog on watch for squirrel gang. Couldn’t bring myself to tell her squirrels have very low interest in burgers.

Things that Foster Dog taught me, part 3

When Zoe first arrived at our house, I was convinced that she would be moving on soon. After all, she wasn’t our dog and surely an awesome home would surface. I don’t know what Foster Dog’s thoughts were, but I was thinking there was probably a farm somewhere in her future where she could run and chase squirrels and rabbits.

But it was about that time that our previous foster dog, Snoopy, passed on. And Zoe reflected pleasant memories of our special furry friends.

And it was during that time that I was introduced to social media – FaceBook and Twitter. I really didn’t know what to do with either. Something about having to ask people to be my friends took me back to some really difficult junior high moments. And tweeting. What would I say? What would people want to read?

I’m a storyteller. Those of you closest to me are nodding, knowingly. And you’re rolling your eyes. Sometimes too many stories and too many details.

One Sunday morning, after feeding Zoe, it began to rain. Now, she’s impervious to water and rain. But thunder and lightning is a different story. So when storms blow up, Zoe begins to feel a little edgy. On that morning, there was a feeling of storms in the air. As I went back into the house, Zoe pled with me to let her inside. Instead, I tapped in this tweet:

Church in 20 minutes. Rain. Trying to convince Foster Dog that the back porch is sufficient shelter.

And Foster Dog was introduced to her adoring fans. My Twitter list of followers is pretty small. But my tweets go directly to my FaceBook page. And friends from around the world were asking about Foster Dog.

So I wrote Foster Dog “stories.” She provided a lot of ideas for those stories. The challenge came in the length — 140 characters per story.

It was in telling her story that she taught me an important lesson. You can say a lot by not talking too much. It was a principle she used in her own relationships.

Sometimes you just need to give people a simple idea and then be amazed by how their own imagination and creativity make it great.

For example, what’s the story behind this Foster Dog picture?

Things that Foster Dog taught me, part 2

When I returned from my morning workout at 6 a.m. this morning, I could see Zoe’s piercing blue eyes through the slats of the gate. In recent days, Foster Dog’s presence at that location meant only one thing — time for another walk.

This would be the second morning in a row that we set out for a slow, relaxed walk through the neighborhood. With her weakened heart valve, Zoe had been spending most of her days in her Igloo dog house, working hard to breathe. Even when the thermometer was close to 100 degrees, she had refused to come out.

Two nights ago, she didn’t even come out for her evening stroll. I went to bed that night convinced that she had taken her last walk. I woke up the next morning with the dread of what I would find. As I got dressed, I took a quick glance out the bathroom window. And I took a second glance. I had seen a white shape standing by the gate.

Minutes later I had pulled on my sneakers and grabbed the leash (and a couple of those little doggy clean-up bags) and Foster Dog and I were off on our walk. As I commonly do (much to the distress of my neighbors), I was talking to her as we walked. At one point, I said something like, “It’s good to be walking. I didn’t know if we’d get to go on any more walks.”

At that moment, Zoe stopped to sniff a patch of grass. When she raised her head, she shot me “the look” and then proudly took off at a trot, as if to say, “You may be feeling the years, old man, but I can do anything I choose to do.”

Head cocked and tail raised, she kept up the pace for about the length of our neighbor’s house. Then she looked over her shoulder and slowed down. We made the full block plus a detour into a vacant lot as she scouted out the ground squirrel dens.

When we returned to our house, she made her customary security check of the front yard, pausing at the front door. Often when Nancy takes her on walks in the evening, their last stop is to ring the doorbell to see if I want to come out to congratulate her on another great outing.

“Let’s not ring the doorbell this time, big girl. Foster Mom may not be up yet.”

Zoe turned knowingly and headed for the gate. As I unclipped her leash, she walked through the opening in the fence. Normally she would head straight to the back porch for breakfast. But this time she turned and just looked at me, tail wagging ever so slightly.

Things are changing in Foster Dog’s world — and ours. Yet she reminds us that God gives us our lives in daily doses. And sufficient strength and comfort to weather whatever comes.

Things that Foster Dog taught me, part 1

As I write, I’m thinking about a wonderful, four-legged friend who has become a rich part of our lives over the past couple of years.  Zoe, aka Foster Dog, was a temporary placement at our house. She was much too big for our small yard and we had another dog and . . .  the list actually grew quite long . . . and then magically disappeared.

But Nancy and I were drawn to the shy and gentle giant — half Great Pyrenees, quarter Siberian Husky, quarter wolf. When, at her first check-up, we learned that she had a heart murmur and an ear infection, we began to think that perhaps we should take care of her for a while.  The ear infection has been persistent and treated off-and-on.  And, of course, the heart murmur has only worsened — severely in the last month.

So now, Zoe is quietly resting for most of each day as various physical problems arise from the lack of oxygen. Visitors have always been a great treat for Zoe.  Her routine is to make an initial sniff-down and then retire to a point about 20 feet away where she silently guards both us and the newcomer.  But yesterday, when the lawn people came to fertilize, she stayed in her house watching from her front door.

Her only prolonged physical activity at this point is when we make the idle suggestion that we are ready for a walk if she is. Head held high, Zoe trots quickly to the gate to wait for her leash and her favorite part of the day.

The walk.

It pains us to take Zoe on walks now. While she seems fine (just a little slower) during the time strolling and sniffing, her recovery time gets longer each day. The veterinarian tells us that we should let her do whatever she wants to do.

And Foster Dog loves to walk.  So we walk.

I’m inclined to reason that perhaps it’s time to slow down and let this part of the daily routine cease.  But Zoe doesn’t think it’s time to stop. She seems to be saying, “God wants us, above all things, to experience true joy through His will for our lives. His will for me is walking. People wave to me. Children hug me. I sniff new smells and meet new dogs. I’m happy.”

So I have to ask, even in the face of great challenge, where does God unleash joy in your life? It’s a question I’m asking every day . . . on our walks.