When You Don’t Know What to Say, Pray – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella. I am an Olde English Bulldogge. In fact, I am their queen. For those who don’t know me, that was my introduction.  My question today is

The humans are sad. Why?

Me:        Something terrible took place last night not many miles from where we are.

Stella:    I don’t understand.  How far is “miles”? Did it happen in our backyard?

Me:        No, but it feels as though it did.

Stella:    Did it happen to us?

Me:        As hard as this may be for you to comprehend, it happened to all of us.

Stella:    I don’t feel different. And when I woke up this morning, I counted and all of us were here, bulldogs and humans. Even the cat.

Me:        Not every family can say that.

Stella:    Tell me the truth. Did some bulldogs get loose and run wild?

Me:        No, nothing like that.

Stella:    So it is not our fault?

Me:        No.

Stella:    That is a relief. I always feel guilty when dogs cause a problem. I want to stop problems, not cause them.

Me:        Me, too.

Stella:    Was it a storm? Because those can cause problems and I don’t know how to stop them either.

Me:        It was like a storm, but humans caused it.

Stella:    But humans don’t like storms! Why would humans cause one?

Me:        Hatred. Confusion. Mistrust. Do you remember when Tiger came to us and why?

Stella:    Yes, a dog attacked Tiger and hurt her so badly that she almost crossed over. Was what happened last night like that, but it was not done by dogs, but by humans?

Me:        Yes.

Stella:    But humans are supposed to have more understanding than we do. Humans are supposed to know better.

Me:        We don’t apparently. Not by a long shot.

Stella:    But the Great Creator put humans in charge and we are all subject to you. Stop the human-made storms! What are you going to do?

Me:        Pray. And keep praying. Never stop. Even if things look all right. Ask the LORD and obey what He says. And never give up. Never. Never. Never.

Stella:    What can I do?

Me:        Be yourself, Stella. That’s what God created you to do.

Stella:    How can that help?

Me:        We need to smile again. And laugh. That’s another part of this life that God has given us. And that, Stella, is where you come in.

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”  (James 3:3 KJV)


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Conversations with Stella – The Crying Sky

Me:        Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, is back for another conversation about her important question of the day. So what has you perturbed today, Stella?

Stella:   First of all, QUEEN STELLA to you. Others may call me “Your Majesty”.

Me:        Nope.

Stella:   The sky has been crying too much.

Me:        We have been having a wet spring.

Stella:   Why?

Me:        It would take a long to explain and I’m not sure you would understand. I ‘m not sure that I do. Some years are rainy and some are dry.

Stella:   Is the sky sad?

Me:        The sky doesn’t have emotions like that. There are a lot of things going on up there.

Stella:   Is the Creator angry? I heard the big booms over and over again the past few nights. And light was flashing outside.

Me:        Those were thunderstorms. The Creator is far more powerful than a thunderstorm. We can’t even imagine how powerful. If the Creator were angry with us, a thunderstorm would be the least of our concerns.

Stella:   It was scary.

Me:        But you were safe even though something scary was going on.

Stella:   Snoopey was so stupid. She started barking and all that did was make things louder.

Me:        The storms frighten her, too. She was just trying to warn us.

Stella:   Stupid Snoopey! Barking at the sky!

Me:        But you were scared, too.

Stella:   Yes, but I didn’t bark like a silly head. I hunkered down in my bed and covered my face like a smart dog. Lady Human, you talk to the Creator, don’t you?

Me:        Yes, it’s called prayer.

Stella:   I thought so because sometimes you are talking when no humans are around and you aren’t talking to me or the bulldogs. Or to that silly cat. Would you ask the Creator to stop the sky from crying so much and so loudly?

Me:        I’m not going to ask for the rain to stop. We need it for the lakes and rivers and fields. Summer is coming. But I can ask for moderate rain, not so much all at once.

Stella:   Is the Creator mean?

Me:        No, He is kind.

Stella:   Then why are there scary thunderstorms?

Me:        Maybe He allows them so we will remember to look up.


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.






Doggy Study Hall

Quality time is a term that people threw around a bunch when my kids were little. There are 24 hours in every day for everyone and they get filled without effort until the overflow fills up the next day and the next and the next. Soon weeks, months, years have passed and we don’t know what happened to them.

I got to see our dogs every day. I fed them, watered them, cleaned up after them, and talked to them, all of which is fine, but not really fun and not individual to each bulldog. So after a few months, I instituted Doggy Study Hall, a separate playtime for each dog. Yes, it takes time (about 30 minutes each) and it takes energy (mine mostly, as their internal generators seldom slow down).

I take each bulldog by herself down our quiet hallway. I light a scented candle high above their reach and sometimes I set up a speaker and play instrumental music. I sit down on a large beanbag chair that each bulldog has tried to claim with only limited success. A large cushion is available for their use, but what the human has is so much more appealing.

Doggy Study Hall rules are simple:

  1. No stepping, standing, or walking on the human. (Snoopey routinely violates this rule. She still thinks that she is a lap dog.)
  2. No invading any room into which you have not been invited.
  3. No intrusion into the front room at all. There is nothing in there for dogs and it is not a public doggy restroom (though Tiger and Wiggles have tried to turn it into one.)
  4. Dogs may choose their activities– soft toy play, fetch, chew toys, lounging, cuddling with the human, or napping.
  5. Stepping, standing, or walking on the human after 3 warnings may cause expulsion from Doggy Study Hall for that day.
  6. And no chewing, tearing, or eating of any books (even if they look delicious).

At first I thought the dogs had some fun there, relaxed some by being away from the others, and maybe learned to tolerate me a little more. No big deal. As time went on, the excitement level revealed that they had come to expect it. They would run, prance, and dance at the hall door at that time of day. Each one had a favorite activity. Snoopey loved to cuddle and nap. Wiggles loved to play with a big, blue, rubbery chew stick. Tiger cuddled and lay on the cushion, fiddling with the soft toys every so often. Stella loved to be petted and massaged behind her shoulders.

I forget how much special time set aside means to my friends, to my family, and to the LORD. It is actually harder to set up quality time with the people in my life than it is to spend time with the Lord of the Universe. He is always awake. He is almighty. His invitation always stands.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  (Mark 1:35 KJV) If Jesus knew the importance of time apart with the Father, how much more should I realize the importance of quality time with Him?


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.


Saving Tiger – Part 4

“She looks great!”

The whole veterinary staff grinned when they saw Tiger walk in a week later. Tiger was one of those success stories that remind people not to give up. She favored her leg and wouldn’t put her whole weight on it. The worst wound was still draining a little from a small rift in it, but not at all as horrible as it had been.

The vet was delighted. “Keep doing what you’re doing. She has good range of motion in that leg, but just expect that she will walk with a limp, probably for the rest of her life.”

Expectations are funny old things. They are patched together from what we’ve experienced in the past, what we’ve seen others experience, what we’ve planned, and hope. A glimmer of hope, people say, as though hope is a weak candle flame about to go out. Sometimes hope flares up and spits right in the face of the past. We stretch our faith to hope for a difference and God meets us more than halfway.

Tiger had other issues. The skin on her back was enflamed and broken out and no one could confirm the reason. Not mange, not mites, or maybe it was. The test results said no, but test results could be wrong. Allergies? That would be bulldoggy of her. The skin problems had begun when she was with her previous owner before the attack and she was in a new environment, still with no improvement despite special shampoos and a changed diet. But the leg was still the biggest question.

One night my son brought his shop vacuum inside to work on it. When he turned it on, the screaming whir bolted Tiger to her feet, all four of them. Not one to waste an opportunity, he opened Tiger’s crate and Tiger followed him through the back door, wobbly on the weak leg but moving.

Her leg fought against the whole weight of her body pressing on it. It wasn’t ready to do the job yet. She looked at me with her curled lip exposing one fang of her bulldog underbite as if to ask why didn’t we smart humans know that. After a slow walk around the yard, it looked looser though. Okay, maybe stepping on it wasn’t so bad an idea after all. Maybe the humans were not as dumb as they seemed.

Tiger lived. Tiger healed. Tiger walks and runs and jumps…without any limp.

Hope and faith can be a dangerous combination. You may just get what you are hoping for.

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

Saving Tiger – Part 3

“I can’t even give her 50/50.” The vet’s lead-weighted words dragged on the air in the room. No false hope. I appreciated that. It’s good to know what level you are fighting on. We drove home with Tiger for a long weekend.

My son poured himself into research on the internet. Surely someone else had battled this and won. He had bonded deeply with Tiger during those days and nights of doctoring. When I would be long in bed, he was still up, face to face with her pain and her fight against the enemy organisms that were eating at her body.

“These people say raw honey helped. I have some. I’ll add that and keep up with the hydrotherapy. After all, why not? What is there to lose?”

“Yeah, why not?” I said. “Why give up now?” We had a miracle going. Were we going to give up so easily? It was going to take persistence and patience.  Those require time and time is something we hate to spend, but nothing good comes without it.

He used a strong stream of water from the hose directly on the open wound, then pour raw honey into the hole, and bandage the leg. Three times a day. We saw the pain it caused her, but Tiger never bit us or snapped at us. She kicked a little, but she knew we were trying to help her. Her trust in us flowed from her eyes. Now she wore a Cone of Shame. I think that bothered her more than the treatments, but it kept her from licking the leg and making it worse.

I prayed for her. “She’s already a miracle, Lord.” I talked to Tiger over and over. “You are strong, girl. You are a fighter. We won’t quit. Don’t you quit.” She might not understand my words themselves, but I made my voice carry hope. Dogs understand your tone. But we needed more than hope. We needed a change. And we needed it by Monday.

Nothing changed Friday or Saturday. She still had a fever. She couldn’t put any weight on the leg with the gaping wound.

“Does it look better to you?” my son asked.

“About the same. But not worse.” We put so much pressure on how things look.


After church on Sunday, I ran into my friend, Meg.“Do you pray for animals?”


“Well, we have one that you can pray for. Tomorrow is D-Day.”

And we prayed, standing outside the church building in the open air and we believed that God heard us on Tiger’s behalf, on behalf of His animal, His creation. We asked for a new miracle. Everything is a miracle anyway. I have never created one thing, not the smallest grain of sand, not the tiniest speck of dust. We asked for a miracle – for a dog. Why not?

Sunday afternoon, the change came.

My son called me over when he removed the bandage. “The wound is closing. The hole is much smaller than it was.” It was. The change was dramatic.

When the vet saw it on Monday, her smile returned and she said the only thing she could. “Wow!”

To Be Continued


Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved

Saving Tiger – Part 2

Tiger knew the dog that attacked her. They had each escaped from the safety of their separate kennels while their owner was not at home. If Tiger had stayed in her place, she would have been okay, maybe. The attacker was aggressive. Tiger should have been mindful of that. But then so should I have been mindful in my own life. Watchful, alert, awake around aggressive humans.

We were Tiger’s guardians now. My son took her in out of a strong heart and the merest breath of a hope.

“50/50, huh,” I told her, sitting by her side and feeding her again with the syringe. “Let’s up those odds on our side, girl.” 50/50 just didn’t sound right. I laid my hand on her head and prayed for God’s mercy to His creature. And to us. Hope reflects light and light shows things for what they really are. I needed hope and so did the dog.

The next evening she stood up for the first time since the attack, on three legs, not four, but she was up. Then she pooped. I was never so happy to see a dog poop in my life. She chewed on the end of the plastic feeding syringe so we offered her food and water in bowls and she lifted her head readily for each and ate. My son put the medications in soft dog food that he mashed into attractive meatballs in his hand. Tiger devoured them.

My job ended at noon on Monday. I told them it was my last day. I decided not to fade away.

That afternoon, to everyone’s amazement, Tiger walked with us into the vet’s office on her own. The doctor smiled. From being carried in my son’s arms and out on a towel stretcher one day to walking, albeit slowly and gingerly a few days later, was a miracle. We all need miracles at least once in a while. The 50/50 chance was erased from our minds. “I’ll see her again on Friday,” the vet said.

When I got up Wednesday morning and walked by Tiger’s crate, bright red goop was on the floor. Tiger’s worst leg wound had opened up and a deep tissue infection had burst out. It was a danger the vet had worried about, but we had hoped Tiger was beyond it when she responded so quickly those first few days.

When the vet saw her, she no longer smiled. The wound was deep enough that a man could put his fist in it. Amputation was no longer an option, if it ever had been. This breed doesn’t always handle it well and the hidden infection had likely spread further up in the leg. Hydrotherapy, another antibiotic that works against anaerobic bacteria, and that was it. The vet said that she had seen dog’s legs literally dissolve from this. If Tiger lasted the weekend, Monday we would have a decision to make.

To Be Continued


Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved