Alone Time

ImageAnyone with kids knows that sometimes they need a little one-on-one time. Growing up with two sisters, it was rare to get time alone with one of our parents. But when we did, we definitely savored it.

Dogs can be the same way, and it seems we’ve always got at least one who is needier than others. Lily’s that one for us right now.


Recently we housed a sweet nine-month-old puppy while she was being transported from Alabama to Maryland. Her final foster home couldn’t take her right away, so we got to spend two nights loving on a sweet, neglected girl.


But 48-hours of loving on a new dog left Lily with her nose decidedly out of joint. As soon as we bent to pet our visitor or pay her any mind, Lily would run off to hide in another part of the house. There was some serious pouting going on.


So as soon as the puppy was on her way to her new foster home, Lily spent some time waiting at the window to make sure she was gone for good. And as soon as Lily was satisfied that the interloper had, indeed, left the premises, she bounded into my lap full force. She licked and kissed and cried with the sheer joy of having regained her title of house baby.


So I decided to take Lily for a walk by herself so we could get a little alone time.


I love walking all three dogs, but those walks are short and slow to accommodate our old man. So my one-on-one walks with Lily are a treat. We can take a long walk at a steady clip. And, to be honest, my walks with Lily help ground me. I’m not worried about which dog is walking where and who’s stopping to smell a mail box, so I can just walk and be.


These walks are also my time with God. Being outside connects me to Him in a way that just doesn’t happen anywhere else. So I savor that time being outside, just communing with my dog and my Father.


And during this walk, I realized that, just as Lily needs some one-on-one attention sometimes, so do I need this one-on-one time with my own Father. It’s time for me to reconnect and be reminded that I am loved.


And when we got home, Lily settled back into her normal routine, secure in the knowledge that she is loved as well.

Déjà vu.

DéjImageà vu. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another. But can dogs sense it too?

I wondered that this weekend as I leashed up Chico to take him to the vet. He loves going for walks, so he chattered away and walked in circles to tell me to hurry up with the leash when he realized I was taking him out. We scooted out the door before the other two realized what we were doing, and headed for the car.

As we ducked out the opening garage door, Chico turned around to look for his companions. Except they weren’t there. He turned around and started walking back. I tugged on his leash and opened up the back hatch. Chico looked back once more, saw that he was alone, and darted for the house.

It took some effort, but I finally pulled him over to the car and lifted him into the back. But he was not happy. He circled and whined. He panted and drooled. By the time we got to the vet, he had shed what looked like half his coat and had drooled so much there was a wet spot on the bed he sat on.

On the drive home, I was reflecting on what might have caused Chico such anxiety. He doesn’t love the vet, but this reaction was way beyond his usual going-to-the-vet stress response. So what might it be?

It dawned on me that perhaps the last time he had ridden in car by himself, he was leaving behind the home he had known for so many years and coming to ours. He had been uprooted from the home he knew and loved and left at a home he had to grow to love.

Could he have thought that I was not simply taking him to the vet, but instead taking him away from his home to a new family?

Was there something about that morning – the prospect of getting in a car by himself – that was familiar?

I’m not sure if Chico actually experienced déjà vu, but something caused him anxiety at the idea of taking a car ride alone. He wasn’t thinking about the four years of love we’ve shown to him. He wasn’t thinking about the walks we take or He wasn’t thinking about the belly rub and kisses and he got that morning. He was reacting to something instinctual from his past.

Sometimes I find myself responding like Chico. I step into a situation and anxiety overwhelms me. Sometimes I can identify the cause, but other times, there is just the vague sense that something feels familiar – and dangerous.

But like Chico, most of the time I’m wrong. Most of the time, I’m reacting to history instead of living my present reality.

How do we learn to let go of old fears? How do we reset those déjà vu reactions to ground ourselves in the present and let go of the fear of the past?

I can’t say that I’ve got the final answer. But I’m learning that praying helps. So does taking a moment when those feelings kick in to remember that I am never alone. And reminding myself that I have a choice in how I respond in those situations.

As for Chico, he was relieved to get home to his fur-siblings. He ran in the house and was greeted by two excited sisters. They sniffed and snorted and licked one another for about five minutes. Then they all decided a nap was in order.

Life is stressful. Keep calm and take a nap.


ImageIt has been a Long. Cold. Wet. Winter. As a native Midwesterner, I shouldn’t be complaining, I know. But my household is starting to go stir crazy.


When I got home from work today, I had a half dozen different things that needed to be done. A good friend was joining us for dinner and I wanted to be sure the meal was special. I rushed home from work and quickly fed the dogs so I could get on with my to-do list and meal preparations.


As the dogs finished up, I scooped up the bowls and turned to the sink to start washing. I paused as the room became strangely quiet. I turned around to find three sweet faces staring at me in anticipation.


They were waiting for their walk. The sun was out. The air was warm. Surely I would take them for a walk.


I paused and started explaining I didn’t have time to take them for a walk. (I’ve mentioned I talk to my dogs, haven’t I?) There was chicken to cook and biscuits to make. A table to set and a kitchen to clean. Surely the understood?




They simply sat and stared at me. With those faces I simply cannot resist.


A quick walk around the block. That was it, I told them. They would need to be fast. No dawdling.


I grabbed the leashes and mayhem broke out. Entire back ends started wagging. Coco started doing her little back flips in the air. I wrestled harnesses and leads and they dragged me out the door.


By the time we reached the end of the driveway I could feel the sun on my arms. A few houses down I felt a warm breeze blow against my face. As my pace slowed, so did the dogs’. The four of us fell into a steady rhythm together and we walked.


It was glorious. Birds were singing. Kids were playing. Neighbors were talking. People were jogging. And everyone was smiling.


I might have missed it. If it weren’t for my dogs. My wonderful, naughty, adorable, pestering dogs.


Life is short.


So I am going to purpose to be grateful more. For sunshine. Warm breezes. Good health. Family. Friends. Walks. Dogs. And all the other countless things I am blessed with each day.


Thanks be to God.