Life’s Lessons


Lessons from a therapy dog

I guess it’s about time to bring you up to date on Kelly and her latest quirks. Yes, quirks!

At 10 and a half years of age, she is exhibiting some of the same kinds of twists and turns in life as her human counterpart – be that good or bad!

She is very arthritic (so, who isn’t) and takes pain medication regularly – more regularly than her human, I might add. She has congestive heart failure, requiring more medications, but is maintaining well.

Recently, we spent a couple of hours at a place of business and she decided to bark. That has always been one of her quirks. I finally saw a small dog outside which she apparently saw long before I did. When that little dog came into the same room with us, the barking only increased, and she tugged really hard to get away. Somehow, I won that battle.

Back to more quirks!

She has decided jumping into the back seat of the car, which has been her home away from home for the past nine and a half years, is simply too hard! She will hesitate, make the right pre-jump moves and still not jump for 15 or 20 minutes before finally deciding to make the jump. Then, if she gets out, we have to do it all over again.

A friend knew of my dilemma and said, “Oh! I have a ramp for that problem, and since I lost my dog I no longer need it.” She was delighted to have it put to use once again. Problem solved.

I suspect her reluctance to jump can be credited to arthritic pain. But, get this! She will readily make the jump for a stranger’s voice. One Sunday, I asked one of the children at church to put her in. “Kelly, jump,” was the command. And in she went.

I have asked total strangers to do the honors. She jumps right in. These persons can be anybody from a child to a fellow worshiper after church to a derelict off the street. She doesn’t require a resume or references. If a stranger tells her to jump, she jumps! After several times of hearing that different voice, however, she refuses once again. Then, to my total surprise, she recently jumped right in while I was getting the ramp out of the trunk. So figure!

Another one: Though she knows what is expected, she refuses to come when I call her – no matter where we are or what the circumstances. But if I get a treat and gently tap it on the storm door glass, she hurries to my side. She also comes if I say “supper” instead of “come.”

Oh, and she was refusing to eat her kibble. I mentioned it to her doctor, who said that is very common in older dogs. Just put some chicken breast on her food. That works, but she is quick to let me know she prefers the chicken I cook for her rather than the thin-sliced, store bought convenient version.

Animals learn a lot from us just as we do from them – both good and bad. I wonder if she has learned these old age quirks from me.

Of all the idiosyncracies (quirks) we develop we must be extremely careful to maintain a good, solid relationship with Jesus Christ who, alone, can save us from our innate sinful nature. (Romans 6:23)

Don’t let your quirks keep you from responding to God’s call to “come” into His loving presence to receive the gift of eternal life made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

Lessons from a therapy dog