Friday, February 11, 2011

Stealth Dog

It was the middle of the night.  OK, 4:00 in the morning.  It was cold outside of the down comforter I snuggled beneath. The word cold does not even come close to describing the temp. It is winter, and we turn the heat off at night. COLD.   So, I awoke to hearing this whining.  Whining. WHINING.  It is coming from Chester.  Chester sleeps at the other end of the house, in a hallway. We call it his dog-cave. Don't feel too sorry for him, he really does likes it there.  It is "his" spot. On the tile floor, he has a nice soft memory foam cushion, a sage-colored-green blankie, a plastic black bucket filled with his toys, and a raised dish, with fresh water to drink. Quite a nice doggie pad.  Chester's dog cave is blocked off by a little children's gate. He could actually knock it over with a slight push from his nose, or leap over it with hardly trying ~~ but he is afraid of it.  It fell over one time and scared the crap out of him (pretty much the truth).  That actually worked to our advantage, now he won't get near it, and thinks it is evil.

Anyways.  Back to the whining.  Keith is asleep, or pretending not to hear. So,reluctantly, since the whining is not letting up,  I get out of my warm bed, and zip to the dog-cave, hugging myself the whole way, shivering.  There is Chester, sitting about two feet back from the evil fence, whining.  "Ah, buddy, do you have to go out? OK...."   I move evil gate, almost feeling sorry for the big-guy, and go to the sliding glass door.  Opening it, I stand, shivering, waiting, for him to go out and do his business.  While standing there in the friggen' freezin' air, I see him out of the corner of my eye.  He does not go out the door, but sneaks right behind me, like stealth dog, with his stuffed monkey (named squirrel) hanging from his mouth,  prancing down the hallway towards, of all places, my WARM bed!  Slamming, err, closing, the door I follow him, only to discover stealth dog, snuggled up next to Keith, on top of the fluffy down comforter, with squirrel tucked beneath his chin.   Had to "go" pretty bad did ya?  

I gave him the look, and the command for OFF.  It is weird, somewhere between evil gate and our bed, he lost his sense of hearing.  So, giving  him a reminder-tug on his collar, I pointed to the hallway, and told him to march his cute furry butt back to dog cave. Reluctantly, he slid to the floor, gave me the most pathetic look, then sauntered back to dog cave.  Back at dog cave he cocked his head.  "You forgot your squirrel, huh?" I told him to 'stay', stomped back to the bedroom, and retrieved squirrel. When he was settled in HIS bed with squirrel, I leaned evil gate back into place, and told him I would see him in a few hours.  No more whining, got it?

Truth be told. 99.999% of me thought this was pretty darn funny, and he was pretty darn smart and cute.  It would have been much easier to just crawl back into my WARM cozy bed, and snuggle with the boys for the rest of the morning hours.  HOWEVER, the other .001% part of me did not want to be dealing with whining every night. The pup has a memory like an elephant --- he never forgets.

In the morning...Keith said Chester gave him the It was worth a try look ;-), then headed out the door, because by then....he really did have to go.

P.S.   As I am rereading this post about 5 years later.  ....I smile. In all honesty I should tell you what bedtime looks like today ~~ Chester, as a pup,  may have started out spending the night in dog-cave,  but nowadays he begins his snooze by our bedside and sometime during the early morning hours he joins us atop the queen size mattress, and that is fine with us :) .

Ordinary Days

Some days are just....well....ordinary. 
This week's Schreiber visit seemed just that, ordinary.  Chester was visiting his favorite boy. I know I say favorite a lot, honestly though, when you are with Chester, you know you ARE his favorite, it's just the way he is, the way he makes you feel.  You know,you are special.

During Chester's time with Andy, (name changed), it seemed that nothing really amazing happened.  In fact the therapists' "Plan A" went to about a "Plan C"  after we arrived.  Plans just changed.  That happens.  And, to top it off, Chester seemed especially distracted  ~ like bouncing BALLS, like children's NOISES, like dust particles FLOATING in air seemed to grab his attention.  And though he did fun activities with his boy, it was like he had trouble he had ADD for a day.  

As we drove home, I glanced at Chester resting his head on his paws on the backseat.  I thought ~You know isn't that just life. Some days, most days probably, are like that. Plans change, life gets confusing & distracting, trouble focusing, and we stumble through and do the best we can ~~ praying that at the end of the day, something mattered.

Just an ordinary day...
Perhaps though, maybe ordinary is more-extra-ordinary than we think.  I mean REALLY, how ordinary is it that a furry hound-dog can even walk into a Rehab Hospital, let alone get kissed on the head multiple times by his boy, just for being there, distracted or not.
         Maybe...I need to rethink this ordinary thing after all.             

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Podley, Chester's Hero

Podley was Chester's hero.  His mentor.  Podley,a big lovable golden retriever.  From Chester's perspective, (and a kazillion others I might add), Podley was just about the best therapy dog ever. He had a gift.

Chester and I could not help but think of Podley, as we walked into Schreiber Pediatric for the first meet Naia (name has been changed). You see, Podley was Naia's first therapy dog ~~ he helped her in countless ways, mostly I think, he taught her about unconditional love (a Golden specialty for sure).  Naia.  Naia, a little girl, no taller than a yardstick. Naia with black pixie-cut hair and sweet-almond-shaped eyes. Naia, a little Asian princess, who demonstrated autistic tendencies, perhaps from the trauma she experienced as a young little girl in an orphanage half-way around the world.  Naia, who liked doggies.

As I said, Podley was Naia's first therapy dog. And as I mentioned before...Podley was special.  Podley, a huge-hearted, snuggle-bug golden retriever had a gift.  Podley's gift, 3 strong legs and a giant heart.  Podley was born missing a limb, but was given an extra measure of love and compassion.  At birth, he actually had been set aside to die, but as God would have it, he lived and thrived.  God had a special plan for this pup, who was destined to be adopted into the home and heart of Karen, the founder of KPETS.  Pod could reach people like no other (sometimes, you just need to have 3 legs to get the job done!), and could inspire and give hope and smiles beyond measure.  For all those who knew and loved Podley Eugene Gerth, it did not seem that this beloved pup lived long enough on this earth ~~ but he did leave a legacy of love & inspiration in countless hearts, young and old, lasting eternally.

Naia, was one of those hearts. As Podley poured on the unconditional love, he helped Naia learn a new skill.  Podley taught Naia to hug.  She had never hugged before.  Nope, never.  And one day, this timid, fearful, little pixie, learned what it felt like to wrap her arms around another. Someone who was completely safe and kind. On this day, while Podley stood very still,  Naia reached both her little arms all the way around Pod's soft furry back and tummy, rested her head in his soft golden curls, unclipped his vest, and in so doing... gave her first hug.  Podley was hugged by Naia.  There was celebration all around, tears and tail wags, in heaven and on earth!

I kept thinking Podley thoughts as we anticipated meeting Naia.  Chester had big paws to fill.  Somehow...I wonder if Podley and Chester had a heavenly chat while he pranced down the hallway to meet this precious little girl for the first time. Now, the baton was passed to Chester. Chester did not hesitate, and week after week continued to pour on that Golden unconditional love....and Naia began to trust and open her heart to her new furry friend, even if he did have 4 legs :-). 
  ~~Reminds me of something my Papa said....
We love, because He first loved us. 
We love you and miss you, Podley.
Chester sends tail wags and thank you's for showing him the way. 
We both do.