This year has been a little difficult for my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and his wife, Kelli. Their long-time companion, Dakota, a Black Labrador Retriever dog passed away a few months ago, and they were feeling very sad. Anytime you lose a pet, there is period of time that must pass before you feel ready to have another pet. It’s different for everyone. Dakota went everywhere with Barry and Kelli. He was their hiking and camping companion….always happy to be right there beside them. Dakota was always waiting at the door to greet them when they got home from work. Dakota was like their child, and he had been with them all of their married life. It’s hard to imagine life without your pet, because the reality is that your pet is a part of the family…a big part of your family.
After that kind of loss, there is always a grieving period, before you can possibly move on and find another dog to adopt into the family. Barry and Kelli took their time. healing at their own pace. They did the normal things they like to do…camping, hiking, target practice, and just spending quiet nights at home. Soon though, it became clear to them, that something was missing. It was time to fill the void left behind with Dakota’s passing. That is a big step for any pet owner. It’s hard to open your heart to another pet, after losing one that was such a big part of your life for so many years. So, after some soul searching, Barry and Kelli decided to take to plunge, and adopt again.
They went to see what was available, and came up with a male Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix. For a while, their new “baby” didn’t have a name. They wanted to see what name might fit him. Before long, the puppy became a Scout. He always seemed to be at the alert, as if scouting his next move. Barry and Scout became inseparable. Scout loves to hang out with Barry, hoping to receive the scratching and petting that all dogs crave. Scout even loves riding around on the 4-wheeler with Barry. They say that a dog is man’s best friend, and Scout is definitely Barry’s best friend…with the exception of Kelli, of course. I know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Barry, Kelli, and Scout, and I think Dakota would be happy too. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Some birthdays come and go without a lot of fanfare, but others come with a reminder of the blessings we have, and the things we could have lost. This year, for my niece, Kelli Schulenberg, hers is a birthday filled with reasons to be thankful. The recent fire that could have destroyed her home, also could have taken the life of her beloved dog, Dakota. While she was waiting to hear of the fate of her house, and the wellbeing of her dog, I had a chance to talk with, encourage, and pray with Kelli about the whole situation. Of course, her mind was filled with worry, but she showed a strength that told me that no matter what the outcome, she and my nephew Barry would pull through.
With Kelli’s birthday coming so close to Thanksgiving, I’m sure that there have been a number of years where her reasons for being thankful have mingled with her birthday wishes, but I doubt if any other year has brought that more into perspective than this year. When you come close to losing your home, your pet, and all of your cherished memories, it really serves as a reminder to be thankful for all God has given you, and all that He protected for you. Kelli and Barry’s home and their dog were spared, and they both know the feeling of thankfulness for that precious gift. The did lose some wood and trees, a trailer and a shed, but these were things that, while still a loss, can be replaced with much more ease than a home and less pain than a pet. Nevertheless, they were a loss.
But, as with most things we are thankful for, the best are the gifts given in our time of need. That certainly was the case for Kelli and Barry, when their family and friends came together to cut up more wood than they originally had. With the winter months set now with enough wood to keep their home warm and cozy, Kelli finds herself with yet another reason to be thankful the year, both on her birthday and Thanksgiving.
Some birthdays are a little bit sad, because we feel older now, or a loved one isn’t with us, but I think that on this birthday, Kelli will not be thinking about the passing years, but rather about the blessings she has been given, especially in this past year. So much of her life could have been very different, had it not been for the prayers of friends and family, the hard work she and Barry had done to make sure their home had a good fire break around it, and the help of family and friends to give back the things lost. And of course, she is thankful to still have her dog, Dakota, thanks to the kindness of friends who made sure he was ok. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I have always loved cats. I like dogs too, but for the most part, I like cats better. I love to watch them play, and love it when they want to cuddle and purr. Maybe it’s because we had some cats when I was very young, but then we had the one dog I can say I truly loved too, King. For the most part, dogs annoy me a little bit, I guess. They are always sniffing and licking you. Cats, on the other hand, might lick you once in a while, if you have something tasty on your hand, but for the most part, they want you to be their slave. You are to pet them, or they will stick their head under your hand so that you are reminded of your job. They are unashamed concerning their plan too. If you have the nerve to leave them alone for longer than they think you should, then you will be subjected to the cold shoulder. How long depends on how quickly you begin to make amends, but know this, they plan to hold out a while.
Most cats feel like their owner is not really their owner, in fact, cats are sure they are the owner. I know that’s how both of my mom’s cats felt about her. Every time we took Mom out of town, they would practically ignore her upon her return. Nevertheless, whenever Mom needed them to be there…they were, whether her little knights in shining armor could do anything to help her or not. They were able to stay right there beside her, with a look of concern, until help arrived. Even though the cats couldn’t do anything for her, her loyal cats stayed by her side, because whether she was the owner or the cat was the owner, her cats loved her very much. I know that dogs have been known to do the same things, but I just found it so sweet that her cats tried so hard to be her super hero.
Maybe that is the reason why I love cats so much. Their cuddly, purring ways, and their need to be with their human, even if it is just to make their human pet them, That may be a bit selfish on the cat’s part, but it is loving too. Cats have, not only the ability crave love, but they are also capable of giving love. The cats my girls had when they were little put up with so much. Our daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, were little and rough, but the cats never scratched them intentionally, because they loved them. All they wanted was to be near the girls.
That’s how one of our cats was with me, when I was a little girl. I know that I was probably not a perfect human for our cats, but it didn’t matter. The cat wanted to be with me. It didn’t matter what I was doing, the cat adapted. And I’m quite certain that I felt the exact same as the cat did. I’m not sure how often my cat slept in my crib, but my guess is that it was more than once. It was such a sweet gesture. I expect that it happened often, because, my parents thought it was sweet enough to capture on film. And…I am glad they did.
As each new month goes by since my mother, Collene Spencer’s passing, I find myself experiencing different feelings…different stages of grief, I suppose. Each day brings with it thoughts of Mom, now with Dad and other family members who have gone before us. They aren’t sad thoughts…exactly, because I know she is not sad, but they are lonely thoughts sometimes, because I miss her. I wish I could call her on the phone, or stop by her house to tell her something new I have discovered, or to ask her a question about something that only she would know the answer to. The last time that happened, a thought came to me that like stages of grief, sadness, or being blue, has many shades.
The first days after her passing, or the passing of my dad, Allen Spencer, or my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, were dark days emotionally. I would be hard pressed to find a shade of blue that is dark enough, without having it turn black. Those days were so very painful. Every time I looked at the things I have of theirs, I felt lonely. I would much rather have them here than to have their things. My shades of blue must be worked through on my own. These are not steps anyone can take for me. The days when I think of them in Heaven, celebrating with God, are definitely powder blue days. It is a blue so pale that I can almost see right into Heaven. It’s a blue that is so close to white that it’s almost not blue either. All that remains of the blue is just a hint. The other days all fall into some other shade of blue, as I work through my feelings, and sometimes I slip from lighter blue to darker blue, a relapse I suppose. I know that whether people think of these days as shades of blue or not, they have the feelings I have, nevertheless.
We all experience shades of blue in life. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship, the loss of a pet or job, a child moving away or going to college…the reasons are pretty endless. Nevertheless, as we walk through our daily lives, our shades of blue will vary from darkest blue to lightest powder blue. All we can do is to hang on tight to those we love during the darkest blues, and hang on tight to those we love during the lightest powder blue times too, because it is the ones we love who will help us through, and it’s the ones we love who make life worth living in the first place. While my mom has been in Heaven now for five months, and my dad and father-in-law even longer, I know they are happy…so how can I be blue for them? My shades of blue are for me alone.
When we think of family, we don’t always think of pets, but to pet owners, their pets are as much family as their siblings, parents, or kids. My daughter, Corrie Petersen and her family have two dogs and two cats. With four people in the family, it would seem that each one would have a pet that was their own, and in most ways that is exactly what happened. Molly is totally my grandson, Josh’s dog. If Josh isn’t there, Molly isn’t happy. Missy is my grandson, Chris’ cat…period!! Zoe, the cat, is the most flexible of all the pets. She likes my daughter, Corrie and son-in-law, Kevin, and Katie is totally Kevin’s dog. For the most part, Katie and Zoe do pretty well if Corrie and Kevin are there or not, but Molly and Missy are two very different stories.
Basically, Molly thinks she should never have to walk anywhere…at least not if Josh is around. Josh is pretty much the “she needs me to carry her” type of kid. He loves his dog and packs her around everywhere. She sleeps on his bed, and even goes to visit family with him. And if Josh goes somewhere, like camping and doesn’t take Molly, you had better believe that Molly is mad at him for a while when he gets back. There are rules to this whole game you know, and Molly can’t seem to figure out why we don’t understand that Josh is missing, and we should find him. Then when he comes home, she figures he had deserted her for a while, so maybe he just needs the cold shoulder treatment for a while so he learns not to do this again. Molly even gets a birthday gift, because she is…special, after all!! And by the way…today is Molly’s designated birthday. They weren’t sure of the exact date, so they picked the 6th of September, because it falls half way between Kevin’s and Josh’s birthdays. So Josh made sure I knew that this was Molly’s day.
Missy…my grandson, Chris’ cat…is having a very difficult time right now. She is suffering from depression and grief, and quite frankly, she is just a little bit stunned that no one else in the family seems to realize that Chris is missing. Missy knew something was going on in the days preceding Chris’ move to Sheridan for college. She was confused about all the boxes, and tried to pack herself up to go too. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t take her. Their goodbye was hard on everyone. At one point Missy put both of her paws on Chris’ chin as if to say, “I love you so much!! Please don’t leave me!!” Nevertheless, he had to go. After Chris left, the whole family was quite sad, but Missy went and hid to suffer through her grief…alone. When she finally came out early yesterday morning, Kevin tried to pet her, but she kept backing away. He tried again, and she backed away again. In the end, she led him to Chris’ room and got on the bed. She looked at him as if to say, “Don’t you know he isn’t here?” I think she somehow thought that they had not even noticed that her person was missing, and that they needed to go find him. She misses Chris so much. I never really saw a pet in grief before, but Missy is definitely there, and that breaks my heart. Yes, Missy…believe me we know he is missing, and we are sad too.
My daughter, Corrie’s family all love pets. No matter how much work they can be, they cannot imagine life with out their furry friends. Their newest addition was Molly, who is a miniature dachshund. Like many animals, Molly has her favorite person/pet out of the family. For Molly, that person is Josh, my youngest grandson. Molly does not appreciate it when Josh is not there There are rules, after all, and Josh is supposed to always be at home, or at the very least, take Molly with him. The latter doesn’t seem to bother Josh much either, in fact, last night he tried to take Molly to Youth Group at our church, which would normally be a problem, but last night it wouldn’t have mattered too much since Josh was the only kid there, and the teacher is my niece, Jessi. I’m quite sure they would have had a wonderful time with Molly. Nevertheless, Corrie caught Josh, and wouldn’t let Molly go. I’m quite sure they were both unhappy with her over that one. In fact, I’ll bet Molly practically glared at Corrie.
As far as Molly is concerned, Josh is her pet, not the other way around. She has it in her head that Josh should be with her all the time. School and other activities are just not allowed unless Molly gets to go too. That is ok with Josh most of the time too, but there is the small matter of homework. Molly doesn’t understand that Josh might be busy. That is when she takes matters into her own hands…or paws, or in this case, teeth. No, she doesn’t bite Josh. She would never do that, but she will use her teeth to pull off Josh’s sock and nibble on his toes. Now nibbling on someone’s toes is…well, eeeewwww, but Molly just doesn’t care what we think. If it will get Josh’s attention, she will do whatever it takes. I guess it is a way of telling Josh exactly how she feels, but I still think it is gross.
Josh and Molly are practically inseparable. There is no doubt that Molly is Josh’s best friend…at least in the animal world, and he is hers. If it were possible, they would never be apart. It’s funny how animals have a certain member of the family that is their favorite, and the animal seems to thinks that the human is the pet. It is a show of love and dedication that you don’t get anywhere else. It is why we have pets I guess. Unconditional love and devotion to another being, whether it is man or animal is something very special.