Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chester ~ Mr. CampHost

Meet some of Chester's new friends.  Gabe and Ethan. The boys and their parents, camped right nextdoor to us one weekend not too long ago.  Gabe, Ethan, and Chester became fast friends. The boys told their mom and dad that when they move, they want Chester to live next door. (Dad is in the military, and another move is just around the corner)
Boys and dogs go together like  like stars and stripes, like marshmallows and graham crackers, like Chester and tennis balls.  And what F.U.N. to have these these little guys camp next door to us for the weekend.  Chester made two new friends for life ~ these 3 were stuck like glue for the weekend.

Thank you Josh and Ashlee for letting Chester come over to play with your boys.

And...thank you Josh, & family, for your sacrifice & service to our country.  May God Bless you and keep you safe.

Chester's new buddies, Gabe and Ethan

Saying good-bye is so hard...Just need one more hug please.


Adorable twin sisters have become dear to our hearts.  They are 4 years old, cute as little pixies,  with soft brown curls, gentle smiles, and sparkly eyes. Both girls love to dance, delight in read-aloud books, and sooo enjoy animals...especially horses and dogs.

When we can, Chester and I take a beautiful drive up the coast to a little town called Cambria, to assist one of the girls with physical therapy. She has cerebral palsy. Mom is absolutely amazing & creative as she discovers ways to use Chester to help  her daughter with growth and development.

One of the things we love to do, is walk and stroll to a beautiful garden/hotel close to their home. Mom pushes the stroller with her sweet daughter.  I walk with her other sweet girl.  And both girls take turns walking Chester.

Mom is helping her dear child learn to grasp and release.  And what a great way to practice ~~ holding and letting go of Chester's leash. What began as a difficult task, is now becoming more automatic. This is what is so amazing about animal assisted therapy ---  this little girl does not realize how hard she is working. To her,  she is just taking her buddy for an hour-long walk. The results make us all shout "wooHoo!"  This 4 year old's  proud sparkly smile, her tiny hands opening & closing, are the reasons we are so blessed by what we get to do.

Even more than this little one  making amazing progress with her motor skills, there's something
else  that happens on our walks and strolls to the garden --- Sisters, just being sisters.  Together, walking Chester.  Both smiling.  Both taking turns. Both not wanting to release the leash to the other, but sharing regardless.  Just two little girls, walking  a fluffy-silly pup, and being sisters.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Little Boys and Puppy Dog Tails

It was a Sunday, we were at church, standing in the very back of the room,  totally enjoying the music, worshipping, singing, lost in the moment....  Chester was laying at my left side on the wooden floor.

At some point, for whatever reason, I opened my eyes and noticed a little boy (whom we all love), snuggled into Chester's side.  I knelt down and sat on the floor with the two of them.  I continued to worship with one eye open, enjoying these two. Chester's friend delighted in playing with the zippers on his yellow vest, looking in his ears, rubbing his back, exploring his paws and pads and nails, petting the soft white fur on his belly, and from time to time asking me about this and that re: his furry buddy.

His mom came to me, ready to relocate her son ;-) , -- and I assured her these two were ok, and I was fine with her son's curiosity and love for Chester.

When the service ended and Chester was outside playing with the kids, Keith told me that the mom had come to him,  and apologized,  hoping her child had not been disturbing us or Chester.

 Keith's response.... "I really can't think of anything more beautiful than a little boy exploring & totally delighting in one of God's creations. That IS worship.  Your son brought tears to my eyes as I watched......Thank You."

I love what little boys are made of ;-)

Lessons I learn from My Therapy Dog....Starbucks...Church...and Beyond

Today I was meeting with a friend at Starbucks. Sitting in a comfy corner spot, Chester was laying on the cool cement floor ON my friend's feet which is where she wanted him bytheway - and of course he knew that. I am so thankful for this our new homeland. The kind of friend who is real and honest and teary and humorous about life.  The kind of person who frees me to be me in her midst.  A treasure.

Anyways. As we were snuggled in our leather chairs in the corner of Starbucks, she mentioned how her family has missed us these past weeks, & missed seeing us at church as well. Missed me, Keith, and CHESTER.  Especially Chester ;-) .

We talked about that. Regarding Sundays at Church & Chester in the mix. Chester is one of the best greeters ever....especially for people who feel uncomfortable or shy.  People who are in pain and do NOT want to talk about it, or reveal it.   Some people may not approach a person, but they may approach a soft, cuddly, brown-eyed, golden retriever. 

Chester is an ice breaker.  He's a conversation starter.  He's soft fur for nervous hands.  He's a smile bringer. And he is someone you don't need to use words with in order to feel comfortable. Silence is OK.

Another thing about Chester.  When he is with you....he is WITH YOU.  I mean totally and fully present with you. And he knows what you need...whether it's a romp, or a smooch, or a sit still kind of time. He is not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.  He is not thinking about his to-do list, or what he wants to say, or who he wants to talk to next. He's in the moment fully. And if he is not---well, then we all know it is time to move-along, because we are in the wrong spot OR the moment IS over.

Because God has gifted Chester to do what he does with people...I learn much from my therapy dog. I know he follows my lead and trusts me as his Leader--- often though, it is me who follows him.  Many times, I am not IN the moment. And I need His reminder, which often comes through my furry friend, to pay attention and BE HERE.    Always I am learning.

Time does fly when you're with a good friend and a good cup of coffee........and it was time to go.  On the way out,  there was a man waiting near the counter for his order.  He asked to pet Chester. I stopped.  He knelt down ~~ he and Chester had their moment ~~.  As I watched the love exchanged between these two, I saw the gentle kiss coming. Chester stayed very still, enjoying the tender ear rub, the kind words; and then softly gave him a smooch on the nose. The man said "thank you, I was hoping for that."

As we continued out the door, my friend looked at Chester "Always working, aren't you buddy?"

Oh the life of a therapy dog....and the lessons he teaches me.