Thursday, January 31, 2013

Confused Greetings

By Linda Grupp Boutin

I disappeared from the dogs for a week in January, laid out flat on my back in the hospital. I expected an uproarious greeting from Kindu and Star when I returned home. Instead I saw puzzled faces, wrinkled brows knitted in concern. Slowly they realized I was back home and though happy to see me they seemed more confused than anything else.

I thought about what this had all meant to them from their perspective. Whisked away in the middle of the night, they must have wondered where I had gone. One thing canines prize above all else is predictability. There are stories of dogs who knew the time of day to expect the return of their people, greeting children at buses, waiting impatiently at the door for a young woman. Sometimes even after their master passed away, the faithful dog stood guard yearning for their person's return. It's hard to explain to a dog why their best friend might go missing. They feel it, their hearts break, but they don't have the words for it.

Thankfully my basenjis have welcomed me back into the pack. Star has taken up a new habit of molding her body alongside mine, always with the goal of resting her head on my shoulder. Kindu has started napping beside me while I rest, guarding his spot from his packmate and growling to warn her off from stealing his spot. It's interesting how quickly they fell back into a routine and have no worries about any more absences.

Ultimately I always am happy to receive warm greeting from most everyone. As I return to my normal activities, I have experienced lots of hugs and encouragement from friends and family. This has led me to a renewed sense of purpose and desire to make the most out of every day. Sunsets have taken on new vibrancy. Pictures on Facebook get my attention. Food tastes extra delicious especially when prepared by caring hands especially for me. A new sense of God's blessings in my life and a gratitude for all I receive.

So how about you? Do you wag your tail uproariously when a friend stops by? How about jumping for joy for that treat you just received? Take a lesson from our four-footed friends and show those you love that you love them. You might be surprised with the greeting you might receive back!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Singing in the Rain

By: Linda Grupp Boutin

     A New Year always brings a sense of nostalgia for me. Thinking over the many paws that have crossed my path in a lifetime makes me want to sing. I've mentioned before that basenjis react particularly well to positive reinforcement. Lately on the cold and rainy winter days of Southern California, Star and Kindu race to get in their respective crates when they see me pull out the bag of bacon. It seems like the race is now to see who can get their reward first. Gary and I work hard to get their leashes off and open the doors before the dogs crash them open. Who says crate training doesn't work?
     When we return home, the two of them have opposite reactions to our arrival. Star howls her protests that she wants out of the crate. We can't open the door fast enough to make her happy. Kindu, on the opposite hand, relaxes in his crate, stretches leisurely once we open the door, and is thrilled to have gotten a good nap while we were gone. All the better for him to get into mischief once we're trying to settle down and relax after whatever activity we just participated in.
     Many times our girl will watch the boy and observe his actions to see how to react. Kindu enjoys a good song about his antics which I happily sing about frequently. All of my dogs have heard songs from me sung about their names, nicknames and thievery. One of my favorite tunes to sing to is "Wild Thing," because it so aptly describes my favorite breed of dog. Their ears prick forward and listen alertly when they recognize their names cropping up in my unusual lyrics. Things like, "Star Baby is a curly girl, furly girl, silly curl." She knows if I am singing all is well in her world.
     Several years ago, my brother's family came to visit and spent the night sleeping on the fold-out couch in our living room. I got up early to see Gary off to work the next morning, carefully keeping the living room door shut so my visitors could sleep in. However the morning was glorious with the sun streaming in my back door. The birds sang just outside nested in the bougainvillea vines. First I started whistling out the song refrain I heard from the little sparrows. Soon their echoing calls returned to me, mimicking the whistles I sang out. I'm not sure how long this continued, but before I realized it, my brother's voice called out from the living room, "What are you? A canary or Dr. Doolittle?"
     I tried to apologize for disturbing their rest, but I am sure that he remembered me singing to Ginger when we both were kids growing up together. That is just who I am, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a song playing in my head. Whenever I am alone with the dogs and feeling happy a song just erupts from my lips. It may be a praise song, or an oldie, or a contemporary hit that has captured me, but always the words are adjusted to fit the situation. I love having visitors and reflecting back on my brother's visit, it is no wonder I was whistling while preparing breakfast.
     So how about you, when was the last time you sang out to express your joy, calm your nerves, or praise the Lord's creation all about you? Try it, you might find that it lowers your blood pressure just like petting your furry companions does!