The Dog Walker Sings for Joy

No, not “dings,” I wrote, “sing.” I started writing this post in my head, and when I hit the keyboard, auto-correct dictated my first line for me! But it couldn’t have been more appropriate…

I won’t start with the ding, though.

It’s been months since our Sunday service was snowed out and our pastor issued the #phil4challenge in his Facebook Live sermon. We had 21 days of devotions reminding us to: choose to be joyful, pray with thanksgiving, think on noble things, and repeat daily. Of course, the “repeat daily” meant the Lord would be assigning plenty of homework! “Anybody can grow in grace”–even me. Even you.

But first, we make mistakes–dings.

Last Sunday morning I had a lot on my plate and left Angie at the sitter’s house before going to church. After church, I wasn’t hungry, so I thought this might be a great time to strip the kitchen floor. Enough with the waxed-on dirt! It couldn’t take more than an hour, could it?

For inspiration, I started playing the long-time AWOL Young Messiah tape I found.  Great beat and immortal words. I opened the front, back, and deck doors and moved most of the stuff out of the kitchen and into the hall. I re-read the directions to the stripping product. Chemical-resistant shoes? Who knows? I ran upstairs and put on a pair of rubber-soled shoes I didn’t like. Mindy the cat was safely ensconced on my pillow. Goggles? I had some downstairs but didn’t want to bother. I needed my reading glasses, and they have big lenses. Good to go! Ding!

mop and bucketApply generously. I used dollar store mops suggested by the clerk at Home Depot.

Ding! Don’t allow to dry before mopping up. Or something like that. I minced over the floor and worked from windows to doorway, hoping I wasn’t leaving tracks with my Bigfoot shoes.

Whew! That smell is strong. Better turn on both ceiling fans. Upstairs, Mindy had left the pillow. Under the bed. Would the fumes be less toxic for her closer to the ground? Not sure.

Ding! Ding! Do not allow to dry before mopping up. The stuff sure was tacky. And the fumes were strong.

One of God’s growth lessons for me has been asking for help. Little 9-pound Mindy needed help even more than I did. I should get her out of the house asap. Remembering the time I’d mixed cleaning products when I cleaned the bathtub and felt mega-woozy, I realized I needed help too. I mopped a few more inches and caved in to the Lord.

I called three people and struck out. Mopped some more. Still tacky.

Call three, my RN friend with the chemistry teacher husband, finally called back. As they had done many times before, they changed the agenda for their day and came to my rescue. While I waited or their arrival, I called poison control. They could only help if something were wrong with me. Thank You, Lord, not yet.

What a relief to have someone else to help me. My nurse friend insisted that we work on opening the windows I was convinced were painted shut. Success. Much better for Mindy upstairs.

It turned out this speed reader had misread the directions! Do not allow to dry before rinsing two times with warm water. We headed out to Home Depot for advice. The flooring salesman, despite the fact we weren’t going to buy anything, listened to our tale patiently and that was about it. Nice guy, though.

My friends encouraged me to eat lunch. We stocked up on dollar store mops and rubber gloves. I sent them home. What amazing friends. Thank You, Lord! I hope I can return the favor someday.

Mopped some more.

Seeing the front door propped open and kitchen furnishings sitting in the foyer, a passing friend inquired if I was okay–or was I moving? Thank You, Lord, for surrounding me with concerned friends.

At least the stuff dries quickly, even if the yellow stains on my floor were still there! With just enough energy to put everything back in place and stumble to the car, I texted the long-suffering dog sitter again. “On my way. Finally.” Yet another friend. We’d shared about more than dogs. Thank You, Lord.

Thank You that I survived the fumes. Thank You that I have such great friends. Thank You that even I  can learn to reach out. 

I don’t think I walked Angie that afternoon, but I definitely sang in the car. Songs of thanksgiving. I’d been protected, and I’d learned to reach out for help.

Don’t wait as long as I often do to reach out for help! The results are worth singing about!

Anybody can grow–in grace!

The Praying Dog Walker

Is it wrong to enjoy praying?

No.

No, it’s not wrong, but that doesn’t mean I always do.

Growing up, we prayed in King James English and said a memorized grace at meals. (I confess I resorted to that memorized grace a lot as an adult, too.)

In college, there were group prayers where I spent most of the time thinking up what I was planning to say and trying to sound spiritual.

During much of my adulthood, I enjoyed journaling and those journals often morphed into real prayers. Praying in the car on the way to school worked for me then, too.

But I’ll confess to years at a time that were close to prayerless.

In His grace, God didn’t let me stay that way. Eventually, I had to pray.

Fast forward a few years to the present.

I still struggle. I love the idea of praying continually, but do I have to wade through an checklist-2077022_640interminable list and feel guilty if I leave someone out? What do I do with the “are we done yet?” in the back of mind, or the thoughts about my grocery list?

 

 

Visuals help. I “pray around the country” for family members and unsaved friends, going in different directions for variety’s sake and zooming off to a foreign country on a tangent, then back again.

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I pray when I walk Angie the dog or when I’m driving. I’ve given myself permission not to finish in one sitting.

I’ve tried a schedule with a different focus on each day, but I always feel like I’m leaving someone out. Scratch that.

A couple of weeks ago, as part of our Wednesday night study on spiritual warfare, our pastor, Josh Daffern, discussed “Praying on Purpose.”  One of the strategies he described was to pray a word for someone, letter by letter–a sort of mnemonic device. (Hang in there. ACTS never worked for me, either.) His first word was PURPOSE. You can check out the recording of the study to hear how he used it, along with a great story.  I guess this process is somewhat addictive–in a good way–because Josh went on to generate several more words!

I got hooked, too. I couldn’t stop thinking of words. At last, a different focus for people and situations–something to make my routine, often burdensome list fresh and exciting. When a word popped into my head, a prayer was born, letter by letter. It was easy to tuck a quick but meaningful prayer into a stray moment.

Here’s how I used LEADERS to pray for our nation’s leaders.  You might come up with something different:

L-Pray that they will LEAN on God’s wisdom and strength.

E-Pray that they will lead with EXCELLENCE.

A-Pray that they will be ABLE leaders.

D-Pray that they will be DEDICATED to serving God and their constituents.

E-Pray that they will have ENCOURAGERS in their lives.

R-Pray that they will LIVE RIGHT. (Thanks, Pastor Josh, for R.)

S-Pray that they will be SAVED.

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What can you do with THANKS? (See my answers below.)

Before you grab a notebook and pen and go crazy, let me tell you why this has been such a liberating strategy for me:

  • Since I live in a world of words, this process automatically puts me in “pray continually” mode.
  • As I use little bits of time throughout the day to pray, I connect more often with God.
  • I avoid meaningless repetition because I can change the mnemonic when things get stale. I don’t dread a particular category on my list.
  • When I forget what a letter stands for, I’m prompted to think of a different meaning–hence, more variety.
  • If you pray in a group, with a spouse, or with your children, generating words to pray would be an engaging activity. You could even use a person’s name as a springboard for prayer.

No, my prayers haven’t become one giant acrostic, but this strategy has answered a need in my life. I hope you’ll try it, too.

It’s okay to enjoy prayer.

Let me know how it works for you!

Here’s what I did with THANKS:

T-TANGIBLE blessings; H-HEAVENLY blessings; A-ADVANTAGES; N-NATURE and creation;

K-KINSHIP with Jesus; S-SALVATION.

 

 

The Singing Dog Walker Is on the Move Again

A lot has happened since the Singing Dog Walker last checked in! I’ve decorated the house for Christmas and purchased many of the gifts. This weekend I resolved to get my blog ready for e-mail newsletter subscriptions! Rah! Rah!

Aren’t you glad I didn’t quite make it? More information on my stories and an option to subscribe to my newsletter will be here soon. In the meantime, Angie is walking and I am singing again.

Here’s what’s been happening to us:

Angie continued her rehab for her TPLO surgery and mastered the water treadmill:

Shortly before Halloween, Angie was bitten by a dog that had escaped her collar. God answered my prayer, “Lord, please protect Angie!” The other dog owner flew into action quickly and little Ang escaped with a couple of puncture wounds that healed fast. We hit the trail again pretty quickly, but for a few days she sniffed the scene of the crime, and I did a little less singing!

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We had a dusting of snow before Thanksgiving.

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Mindy the cat kept warm through it all.

Mindy keeps warm

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I did some cat-sitting for two teacher friends, which is always fun. I celebrated Thanksgiving with dear friends from my community group at church.

Angie got her “Master’s degree” in rehab when she graduated for the second time. I will miss the wonderful team at the Veterinary Surgical Center Rehab in Vienna, Virginia. We will go back for a visit when Angie’s in the mood for a car ride!

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Doesn’t Angie look pensive as she contemplates her future?

Her “awards” are: Golden Paw Print, Just Keep Swimmin’, Step Master, Ninja Warrior, and Beam Me Up (for laser treatments?).

Our community group at church had an early Christmas potluck party last weekend. Beware of game organizers who hand you a gift and a pair of oven mitts!

opening gift

I’m not whining, though. These wonderful folks are my family.

no whining

And so, the Singing Dog Walker and her sidekick Angie are on the move again, bundled up and waiting for Christmas. See you soon with information on how to get my newsletter! Stay warm!

 

The Singing Dog Walker–Part 4

I grabbed Angie’s leash, collar, and harness, stuffed them in my purse, and ditched the umbrella. Anything to save time. It was 3:20 and I’d said 3:00.

I stepped up to the long counter in the emergency room and the receptionist greeted me.

“I’m here to pick up my dog, Angie Green.” It’s not like she was away at boarding school for a year. This was just two nights of medical boarding while you went to a wedding. And now she’s coming home. Relax.

“What was the last name again?”

“Green, like the color.” Am I really that hard to understand? It’s just one syllable. Common name.

“Pet’s name?”

“Angie.” I relaxed the talon-like grip on my purse strap and sighed. No “Oh, yes, Angie! We love Angie.” Usually, they say something like that. Oh, well, they did say she was a sweetheart when I called earlier. I’m sure they were nice to her.

“Have a seat and I’ll let them know you’re here. It’ll just be a few minutes.”

I handed over Angie’s paraphernalia and sat down in the seating area. The gentleman to my left watched football on the TV suspended above the desk. I kept my eye on the door through which the tech would enter, bringing Angie, released from captivity. Poor girl. Had she felt abandoned?

Staring at the posters in the hallway grew old after a few minutes. I could check the score. Don’t recognize those uniforms. What?! The Redskins are ahead? No wonder the guy is so intent on the game.

Another man entered through the main door, leading a large dog who sported a red and blue bandana decorated with white stars. Tongue out, the dog grinned at us. His owner sat down at the opposite end of the long waiting room. “Sit. Good boy. Down. Yes, good boy.”

Flurry of activity. No Angie, just people coming and going behind the counter. The Redskins are still ahead. Wonder if I should bother learning some of the players’ names this year.

A client entered and exchanged a couple of words with one of the receptionists, then helped himself to two cans of soda from a fridge under the coffee machine close to Bandana Dog.

Bandana Dog stood up. Uh oh.

“Sit. Good boy. Down. Good boy. Yes. Relax.”

Bandana dog complied happily. His owner sat back and relaxed, too. No wonder.

I checked the score and the poster on the wall about supporting dogs rescued from Hurricane Harvey. Wonder if they’ll update the poster after Hurricane Florence. Where is Angie?

Wait. Was that a skittering of doggie claws in the hall?

The door opened and Angie burst out, sliding and skittering over the three-foot distance between us. She threw herself at me, then stood on her hind legs in a move that would have made her surgeon wince.  It should have earned an “Off!” from me. Instead, I let her squeeze between my knees and I kissed her shiny black head.

I tried to listen to the tech as he recited what meds Angie had received. “Do you have any questions?”

“No, thanks so much.”

Angie sniffed Football Watching Man’s feet, did a jig, looked up at me, and sat.

She might not be perfect, and she might not have a bandana, but she does have a pink heart ringed with rhinestones on her collar that says, “Angie.”

She’s mine. My little gift from God.

“Come on, Angie. What a good girl she is. Let’s go home.”

On the way home

The Singing Dog Walker–Part 3

Have you missed the Singing Dog Walker? Little Angie has been sidelined over the last few weeks with another CCL tear–this time in her left hind leg. This is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. She came through her TPLO surgery with flying colors, and today was her checkup and first rehab appointment. We did rehab before, and I was anticipating the royal welcome Angie would receive from the doctor and therapists there.

I wasn’t disappointed. As you can see, Angie rocked her “Doggles” prior to laser therapy. She did a doggie “clamshell” first thing, without being asked, in anticipation of the treat she’d get! (I would have enjoyed clamshells a lot more if I’d gotten treats with each one!)

We’ve taken short walks every day since Angie’s surgery. She attracted a lot of attention in her cone. When she started putting her foot down, her fans applauded her.

I’ve met so many nice people since I’ve become the Singing Dog Walker thanks to Angie. One lady always stops her car wherever she is and comes over to pet Angie and cradle her face in her hands. Today she crossed the street, balancing a boxed cake and a grocery bag. She petted Angie, then paused, looked at me with concern, and asked, “Are you going to have everything you need for the storm? You know where we live. Just come and get us if you need anything–anything at all.”

Angie may be a star, and I’m just her mom and dog walker. She attracts all the attention, but I often reflect on God’s goodness in giving this little star to me, and in planting me in such a wonderful neighborhood many years ago. Back then, only God knew what love and care I’d need over the last few years, and I’m still unpacking the little gifts He gives me every day. Thank You, Lord.

Angie in Doggles

 

Angie in Doggles 2

 

 

 

The Singing Dog Walker (Part 2)

 

Angie on walk.jpegAngie settled me into my routine without delay. Four walks a day became a necessity since even at five years old, she wasn’t house trained. Those walks turned me into “the singing dog walker.” Don’t be fooled by the nonchalant sound of the name. I exuded ineptitude with every walk we took for the first couple of months.  Whatever I did, Angie would not walk unless she was in the mood. And so, I sang. I danced. I did cheers. We moved a few inches. I picked up the twenty-five-pound Angie and carried her a few yards, then started over.

Take me home, Virginia roads

To the place I belong…

Add something that looked like moon walking on mom’s part.

Let’s go, Angie! Let’s go!

I’m sure there are YouTube videos of us out there taken by amused passers-by, but I’m not going to search. Be my guest, though.

It got better. I got a trainer. Now I don’t wind the leash three times around my wrist and gear up like we’re going hiking every time we go out. I still sing, though. When I’m hustling Angie along on her walk so we can get to the sitter’s, to the tune of We’re Marching to Pretoria:

We’re marching off to Emily’s, to Emily’s, to Emily’s.

You’ll watch TV at Emily’s, at Emily’s, at Emily’s.

 

Angie expects me to sing when we walk. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty! This indoor girl has seen more of All Creatures of our God and King in two years than in the rest of her lifetime. We’ve had a rather gloomy, rainy summer here in Virginia, so on the rare sunny days I’ve sung Sunshine in My Soul.

I’ve relaxed that death grip on Angie’s leash and she enjoys our walks. Even when she plops down in the grass for a few minutes, I don’t fear the covert videographer like I used to. We’ve found our rhythm together, and I’ve found more time to communicate with our Creator.

How about you? Do you sing silly songs to your pets? (Please share them!) Do you worship God outdoors?

 

 

The Singing Dog Walker (Part 1)

My first dog, Inky, was not the typical car-ride-loving dog. She balked at the idea, and she also had a tendency to run away. After just a few months of Inky love, Mother made an announcement. We were moving from Illinois to Virginia, and Inky couldn’t come with us. She wouldn’t put up with the long car ride, and even if she got in the car, she was likely to bolt at the first opportunity.

I was only five, and parting with Inky was a tough introduction to doing what was best for a pet. It would be decades before I owned another dog. I had two cats as a child, and as an adult I became a cat lady. Cats fit a busy teacher’s lifestyle better than dogs.

With a lifetime cat experience of six cats and some research on dogs stored away, I figured becoming a dog owner couldn’t be too difficult, right?

Wrong. I was totally unprepared for having my quiet life turned upside down! I adopted Angie the purported “beagle mix” in August 2016 from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. The coordinator steered me to Angie, a sweet dog from Puerto Rico. That was Saturday. I could see her Sunday afternoon and adopt her on the spot if I wanted.

I dashed out of Bible study that morning right after the final Amen and made it to PetSmart within the hour, my heart beating rapidly in my throat.

Sensing that I was a rookie, Angie was skeptical when we met. I attempted to maneuver my new fur girl around the slick floors of the store as an employee helped me outfit her. Thank goodness the adoption representative didn’t shadow us—I was sure she’d rethink her decision, even though I’d already paid the adoption fee. Finally we were in the car, and in a half hour, we were home.

Now what?

How do you think I did? I’ll tell you about it in my next post.

What was your first month as a new pet owner like?

Inky & Pammy
Pam and Inky