Tag Archives: Chico

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.

Routine Changes

ImageRoutine changes are rarely routine.

Shortly after we adopted Lily, we realized she could jump our 4’ fence. From a sitting position. So we decided to replace our 4’ fence with one that’s 6’ instead.

No big deal, right? It’s just a fence.


At 14, Chico needs to go out frequently, so we have a dog door that opens to the backyard. So the day of the install I worked from home to ensure we didn’t have accidents in the house.

That was the plan at least.  

All day long the dogs whined and paced at the back door. I’d walk them, but as soon as we got in, they were at the back door again wanting to go out. We went for our third walk of the day around 3pm. I took the dogs into the house, and I went back to get the mail.

Three minutes later I walked into the house – and someone had pooped on the kitchen floor. Seriously? THEY WERE JUST OUTSIDE. What was going on with them?

Like kids, dogs thrive on routine. And what seemed like a small change in routine to us had completely thrown the dogs for a loop.

I can relate.

This week my work world was rocked. Hard. And while the change could certainly be defined as “routine” – in that it happens every day in the world of work – it felt earth-shattering to me. And I’ve been doing my own human version of whining and pacing at the back door.

Fear. Worry. Anxiety. Fretting. Those have been my companions this week.

But unlike my dogs, I don’t have an excuse for fixating on my circumstances. We are told to “be anxious for nothing”, and I need to start living out that command.

Each day I am being confronted with situations, big and small, that require me to trust that God has my back. Each day I am being taught that, while we never know when life will throw us an unwanted change, I can choose how I respond.

Instead of pacing and whining, I can pray and trust.

And that’s a much better option than pooping on someone’s floor…(sorry, I just couldn’t resist)…

Simple Things

ImageRecently, a good friend of mine went with me to visit two sweet women living in a nursing home. They’re a mother-daughter pair, and they went to my church for many, many years. Both suffer from memory problems, but they love talking about our mutual friends and memories from their time at Southview.

There’s something so bittersweet about these visits. I feel torn between the joy of visiting with such lovely ladies and the sadness of recognizing the loss that comes with age. While they have varying degrees of memory issues, they both recognize that they are no longer living at home, and both express a desire to return to that home.

The daughter noted how much she missed simple things like cutting the grass and walking in the mall.

At that moment, I realized how much I take for granted each day. And how easily I can breeze through days without pausing to be thankful for all I can do.

When I arrived home, it was dinner time for the puppies. Our dogs are 14, 10 and 2ish, so the only one who takes our usual 2-mile post-dinner walk is our youngest, Lily. The other two simply aren’t interested anymore.

But this night, Chico followed me to the door and starting nudging my leg with his snout, his sign that he wants to go out. But two miles is too far for an old dog with bad hips. So I started getting Lily’s leash on and told Chico he’d need to stay home.

But he nudged me again, and I felt the Spirit remind me of my earlier visit to the nursing home. Those ladies longed for the simple pleasure of being outside and moving freely. I was reminded that something as simple as a walk could be a real blessing to someone who can no longer enjoy all the things we take for granted each day.

I looked at Chico’s sweet brown face and told him he was going for a walk. I grabbed his leash and his tail was wagging so hard it was pulling his whole hind end with it. He danced around and pushed his way through the door as soon as it was cracked open.

We took a shorter walk that night. We moseyed along and Lily matched her pace to Chico’s. The air was brisk and the stars were out. It was a beautiful night and we took our time walking through the quiet neighborhood.

The dogs walked side by side, tails wagging nearly in unison.

And I felt a joy that only comes when I slow down and recognize the multitude of blessings I all too often take for granted.

I am blessed with…

…a husband, son and family who love me.

…three sweet, loving dogs.

…amazing friends.

…good health and the ability to walk, run and dance anytime I like.

…a warm house, clean water, food and a comfortable bed.

…a church family that cares about its members even when they’re not able to make it to the physical church building anymore.

…a God who loves me even when I take all these blessings for granted.

We had a great walk. And I might be crazy, but I’m pretty sure I saw a satisfied look on old Chico’s face when we got back home. I kissed that sweet face and thanked him for reminding me to appreciate the simple things.


Face 2 Face

ImageOur chocolate lab, Chico, is 14 ½ years old. That’s about 100 in people years. It should be no surprise then, that he’s pretty mellow. He loves eating, and these days that warrants a slightly more vigorous than average tail wagging, but that’s about it. He almost never barks and his days of grabbing pies off the kitchen counter are long gone.

So I was shocked when I came home to find this normally placid couch potato of ours barking like a lunatic and banging his snout against the front window like he was trying to escape a house fire.

What had inspired this kind of crazed reaction? Solicitors. Two guys hawking home improvement services thought it would be cute to wear funny Viking hats (braids and all) while trying to convince cold-weary homeowners that they needed to prep for spring by getting new siding and a deck.

I wasn’t buying it, and clearly neither was Chico.

What surprised me was that Chico had shown me a face I’d never seen before. He’s normally a sweet, loving, and funny boy. A clown not a bully. It made me wonder what other faces he had hidden that I’d never seen.

Several people have asked why I decided to write this blog. One reason is that Chico’s not the only one with multiple faces.

I’ve got two that rarely cross paths: my church face and my worldly face. One is kind and patient and joyful. The other is frank and funny and occasionally mean-spirited. One turns the other cheek. The other curses when she’s mad. But neither one is entirely honest.

And both are hypocrites.

By limiting the people with whom I’m willing to be completely myself, I’m shortchanging them and me.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to change before He loves us. He just says follow me. And I do. But, like all Jesus followers, I’m a work in progress. And I will be as long as I’m breathing. So I’m going to stop showing the face I think people want to see and start showing the one true face I have – the imperfect one. And this blog is my first step.