Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Putting Your Life in Good Order

Star at 5 weeks old
By Linda Grupp Boutin 

   Star is lying beside me tonight. Methodically she lifts her left paw (yes, she’s a leftie), licks it, wipes it across her face, licks her paw, wipes it across her face, over and over. As she prepares to bed down for the night, she likes to wash her face. You might say that’s what cats do, but I am here to tell you that’s what basenjis do too. The breed is quite fastidious about their personal hygiene.
     In Star’s case, she also uses this method to draw your attention to the fact that she “needs” petting. She always wants more petting, Gary calls her “needy.” And she is. She loves food and is willing to taste just about anything; however she is passionate about tactile comfort including just touching you while she sleeps. Being brushed is a special kind of pleasure that she is just discovering. While Kindu fights the brush trying to bite it, Star shivers in delight as the many teeth of the brush send comforting scratches in unison all over her back. She stands still, waiting in anticipation for the next pass of this magical tool. At 7 years old she’s found a new pleasure in life.
     She has other unusual approaches to life. All of my basenjis have always ruffled up a pillow by scratching it into submission. More than one of my pillowcases died a slow death from the dog’s toenails. Star though finds stomping works more to her taste. She steps around in circles, just like every other basenji, but instead of circling and scratching, she turns around and around stomping the pillow to death. Many mornings when I get up, I give her bed pillow a good fluff just to try and give it some body again. If I didn’t occasionally fluff it, she would stomp it as flat as a pancake.
     There are always times when life leaves you feeling as flat as Star’s pillow. Pain has been knocking me down lately leaving me feeling paper thin at times. Star and Kindu join me on the bed in the afternoon while I lie down begging the pain to stop. Absently I run my fingers through their fur comforting both them and me. The mere act of petting an animal releases stress-relieving chemicals for both the person and the pet.
     Star has really great instincts too. It makes good sense to wash your face and make sure all is in good order before you go to sleep at night. When you take the time for this it makes waking up the next morning just that much better. I always feel that way about putting my kitchen to bed for the night so I get up to a clean room the next morning. So what about you, can you use Star’s example to put some needed order into your life? My challenge to myself is to make sure my world is in the best order possible before I close my eyes at night.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Big Ears

By Linda Grupp Boutin

     I want to talk a bit about ears, specifically basenji ears. Safe to say, they hear a lot more than they like to admit. Kindu never misses the sound of a nearby garage door opening. He monitors this when he is, by all appearances, sound asleep. He can discern whether it is our garage door, our neighbors’ above, our neighbors’ beside and even our neighbors’ across the street. Each door owns its characteristic squeaks and our boy has memorized the sounds. Sometimes his head shoots up listening carefully, other days he just opens an eye, quickly returning to his dreams. However one sound is never missed by our basenji-boy: that is the sound of our Toyota Camry, distinct to his sharp ears from every other Toyota. Why this interest? Because that’s the sound he expects to hear when Gary returns, always cause for rejoicing.
     I love being greeted by my dogs. Their joy at my appearance never fails to bring a smile no matter how exhausted I might be. Of course, that does not mean that they will use those ears of theirs to listen any better when I ask…or command…or yell…what I want them to do. Kindu is the most tone deaf when he is nipping Star’s ears. The louder I tell him to stop, the more those huge ears of his seen stuffed with cotton.
     Makes me think of myself a bit when God is trying to get through to me. Just when I need to hear the Holy Spirit most, that’s when I close my ears and stop listening. Take this post for instance, I had a clear idea of what to say last Sunday and here it is Saturday night and I’m just typing now and haven’t yet published a week later.
     Thankfully last Sunday on another, more important, matter I not only heard, but also followed through with action. Much to my delight I was provided with instant validation that made a difference in another person’s life. That’s the thing that is so affirming: when you listen, hear, act and see immediate results. It’s like when I entice Kindu or Star with positive rewards (think bacon) and when they respond, they decide listening to me might be worth it. Funny how God provides these small examples of proper behavior for us then waits on us to get His point.
     So back to those ears, Kindu’s are the largest I’ve seen on any basenji. When he would go through one of his growing spurts as a pup, one ear or the other would droop over waiting to be grown into. As soon as he filled out, both ears stood up listening to hear every sound. So let me ask you, how well are your ears working? Have you been following the urgings of the Spirit or those of the flesh? When those promptings come to smile, converse, bypass your own feelings to center on another’s, did you hear and follow through with a God-inspired action? If you did, then I know that you understand the pleasure of a positive reward (think chocolate).