Curfew Violator – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, and once again, Lady Human has broken her curfew.

Me:        I am a grown human. I have no curfew. Besides, I went to the grocery store at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Stella:    And you said when you left that you would not be gone long. But you were gone long. And do you know what happened while you were gone? Big booms and light flashes in the sky. And rain hit the glass squares in the wall like buckets of water being thrown by a giant.

Me:        That’s an interesting image, Stella.

Stella:    A giant insect.

Me:        Ohhh-kay. Well, the same storm hit the store where I was. That is why I was delayed. The wind blew the heavy rain sideways, so thick and fast that we couldn’t see the parking lot. It was wrapped in gray. It looked like a hurricane.

Stella:    What would have happened if you had never come back?

Me:        Don’t worry, girl. Tall Man would have been here after his work ends.

Stella:    There was no storm where Tall Man is?

Me:        Yes, there was.

Stella:    It was not as bad as our storm?

Me:        A little worse. They had wind and rain and hail the size of ping pong balls.

Stella:    No!!! The Great Creator must tell the sky to stop throwing ping pong balls!

Me:        I am adding that to my prayer list. Really.

Stella:    Why does the sky throw ping pong balls?

Me:        They are actually chunks of ice. You see, water starts to come down through the atmosphere. Way up there, it is very cold and the water freezes; then another wind pushes the ice back up where it gets coated with another layer of water which also freezes, and that keeps on happening until the ice chunk is heavier than the upper wind can support and it falls to the ground…

Stella:    Boring! I mean why can’t the sky throw flowers or real ping pong balls that we could chase or…treats! That would be useful and it wouldn’t hurt if someone got hit by them!

Me:        Things aren’t set up that way. Flowers don’t fall from the sky. They grow from the ground.

Stella:    I think that should be different. I think ping pong ice should not fall from the sky. Flowers should.

Me:        Is that your bulldog plan?

Stella:    Yes.

Me:        Have you figured out how this will take place?

Stella:    No. I am letting you and the Great Creator work that out.

Me:        That is wise. I think that I will turn that over to Him. He is much better at planning how the earth works than I am.

Stella:    Probably a good idea, Lady Human. I have seen how you plan things.

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Where Are The Stars? – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, but that makes no difference to the sky. One minute it’s dark. The next minute it lights up with a blue flash. Then it goes dark again.

Me:        Do you feel that?

Stella:    The wind is rising. It feels good. Where are the stars?

Me:        Hidden by clouds. It’ll be almost 20 degrees cooler by morning.

Stella:    Does the blue flashing light make the air colder?

Me:        No.

Stella:    What is the light?

Me:        We call it ‘lightning’. It is electricity.

Stella:    Did the Great Creator make it?

Me:        Yes, I believe so. When I see it, it makes me think of Him.

Stella:    It scares me a little.

Me:        Me, too. God is great. He can be scary, too. But He is love.

Stella:    Is electricity dangerous?

Me:        Sure.

Stella:    Then why are we standing out here in it?

Me:        It’s not here quite yet. Look at the chickens. They know. They’re getting their last feed in before the storm hits.

Stella:    They aren’t usually out this far after dark.

Me:        They sense that they may have to stay in their chicken house for a while. This storm is supposed to pass by in a few hours.

Stella:    Will we be all right?

Me:        By God’s good grace and mercy, yes.

Stella:    How can you be sure?

Me:        Well, He and I have had a few adventures together. I’ve never found Him to be absent or lacking. I’ll have to tell you sometime about the Supercell storm my daughter and I outran 2 years ago. He was with us that day.

Stella:    What if He has gone on vacation, the way the humans do?

Me:        He never slumbers or sleeps. And He doesn’t go on vacation. He is always God.

Stella:    Even now, with the sky all lit up like blue fire?

Me:        Especially now. But He does expect us to use the sense He gave us, so let’s go on inside. Do you feel that? The rain is starting.

Stella:    It feels like a shower except colder.

Me:        Yes. Except colder.

Stella:    Let’s go in now! Nobody likes cold showers!

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

The Horrifying Inventions of Humans – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. I am Illustrious and Noble. They are not.

Snoopey: I heard that!

Tiger:     So did I!

Me:        If I were you, Stella, I’d go light on the comparisons.

Stella:    I am telling the truth and nothing but the truth.

Me:        Well, truth and opinion can get twisted up and truth can sting so…

Stella:    AAAAGGHHH! Don’t look! It’s back!

Me:        What? Where?

Stella:    The Picture Box! Look! No, don’t look!

Me:        It’s just in menu mode for recordings. A bunch of lines – blue, black, and white. Some words. No zombies.

Stella:    It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Take it away!

Me:        Okay, click and click. There! It’s gone. But why does it scare you? It is literally only lines and words.

Stella:    Lines like bars. And words! I can’t read, Lady Human! Are the words evil? What do the words say?

Me:        You don’t have to be afraid. The words aren’t evil. They are listings for shows. They won’t hurt you and the lines are not real bars. They are images on a screen.

Stella:    Horrible. Horrible. Why do humans make horrible things?

Me:        I would have thought that zombies would be scarier.

Stella:    At least zombies look like ugly, hideous humans. Humans I am used to, even ugly ones.

Me:        I still don’t understand why lines and words on a screen cause you to cringe.

Stella:    Can you explain your fears? Why do some things frighten you but are of no matter to others?

Me:        What can I do to help?

Stella:    Simple. Turn the frickin’ Picture Box off.

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Foot Bath Furor – Conversations with Stella and the Pack

As a human, I am constantly surprised by what sets the bulldogs off. The latest barking/whining frenzy started…

Stella:    When your feet disappeared, Lady Human! WHEN YOUR FEET DISAPPEARED!

Miss Sweetie:    Nooooo! Where did they go, Lady Human? Horrible!

Stella:    Settle down, Sweetie! I will make Lady Human tell us where her feet went!

Me:        This is a foot bath.

Stella:    It eats feet! Keep it far away from us! We have lots of feet!

Me:        Look! See! Here are my feet!

Miss Sweetie:    They are back! Wonderful! You are so talented, Lady Human.

Me:        It is a foot bath. I put my feet down in it like this…

Miss Sweetie:    Noooo! They’re gone again! Why?

Me:        And I take them out like this.

Miss Sweetie:    What a relief! They are back! Lady Human is my hero. She can do anything.

Me:        Not exactly.

Doodlebug:        Why are you letting that monster chew on your feet?

Me:        It is full of warm water and I soak my feet in it.

Tiger:     Ridiculous. Why would anyone volunteer to put their feet in a box of water?

Snoopey:  Tiger is always wrong. I have never agreed with her. Until now.

Me:        Look, y’all. It’s a matter of perspective. From where you are, I can understand that it looks like my feet disappear.

Wiggles:   Yeah, your legs look funny with a big box on the end of them. Your feet disappear, and then they come back, and then they disappear, and then they come back. You are the funniest human ever.

Stella:    Wiggles, it’s not funny! It’s scary. And the box of water is making a growling noise. I don’t trust it.

Me:        Come over here, Stella, and look down into the foot bath. You can see my feet.

Stella:    No way, Lady Human! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you again. Why are you trying to fool a poor ole bulldog?

Me:        Wait. When did I fool you once?

Stella:    Not important.

Me:        Perspective. What things look like from where you sit may not be the way they really are.

Stella:    Good, because from where I sit, that box of water on your feet looks weird and scary.

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J Hill All Rights Reserved.

A Sleep Deprived Bulldog is No Fun – Conversations with Stella

I am with Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge…

Stella:    Ahem.

Me:        Queen Stella…

Stella:    Thank you for setting …the record…straight. Ahhhhawwww.

Me:        Why are you yawning so much? Is it a dog thing?

Stella:    It is a tired dog thing.

Me:        But you sleep about 20 hours a day.

Stella:    Not lately. Haven’t you heard all the bulldog noise at night?

Me:        No. I must have slept through it.

Stella:    Lucky. Living in close quarters with bulldogs is hard.

Me:        Yeah, tell me about it.

Stella:    Okay.

Me:        Actually, that is a human expression that means you don’t have to tell me about it. I already know.

Stella:    Human expressions are stupid.

Me:        Agreed.

Stella:    With bulldogs, there is always snoring or farting or silly whining or barking.  How can anybody sleep under those conditions? And there are those weird noises at night and we wake up and bark to let you know in case there is a problem.

Me:        Yes, the warnings. Tall Man takes care of those. I seem to be able to sleep through them. I guess I’ve gotten used to them.

Stella:    Because you are a bulldog human.

Me:        So how can we make sure that you get more sleep?

Stella:    Earplugs against the barking and whining and snoring. And nose plugs against the bad smells.

Me:        I don’t think that’s a good idea. I have a feeling that you would end up trying to eat those earplugs and nose plugs, bulldog style.

Stella:    Only if they smell good and taste good.

Me:        So only if they are stinky and taste like garbage, right?

Stella:    Is there a problem with that?

Me:        A human problem, yes. Look, I will try to keep the nighttime bulldog disturbances to a minimum.

Stella:    I like it when you and I go camping, just the two of us. And we sleep in your little cloth house…

Me:        The tent?

Stella:    Yes, and you have lots of blankets and we eat stuff you bring and it is just the two of us. And it is quiet.

Me:        Quiet, yes, except for big rigs rolling down the highway and except for coyotes baying all night long as they go hunting.

Stella:    Wait. What? I don’t remember that. I didn’t hear that. Coyotes?

Me:        Yes. I stayed awake part of the night, listening.

Stella:    I had no idea.

Me:        You slept soundly all night long.

Stella;    What about you?

Me:        I slept and I awakened and I listened. That was my job.

Stella:    I had no idea.

Me:        Yes, that was your job.

Stella:   S0 it appears that we have been watching out for each other.

Me:        It would appear so.

Stella:    Thank you, Lady Human.

Me:        Thank you, Stella.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop the Noise! I Can’t Think! – Conversations with Stella

The noise level in the house has increased ten-fold this week. Stella, the Olde English Bulldogge, may be able to shed light on why.

Stella:   Not our fault. Totally falls on the humans’ shoulders. What did you think would happen when you brought a long red pole with a sponge on it into the house? Who can stand such a thing?

Me:        It’s a mop. How are we supposed to mop the floor without a mop?

Stella:   Stick a towel on your feet and skate. I’ve seen you do that before.

Me:        On a small area. Not on the whole floor. And you didn’t just go nuts barking at the mop. Once you got your bucket kicked over, you all were barking at everything.

Stella:   Our barking is a public service. If you don’t want us to bark, don’t bring in strange things that fit on the end of long poles. We hate long, skinny stuff. And don’t bring around strange people either, no matter what shape they are.  We are not partial to strangers. It took us long enough to get used to you and Tall Man.

Me:        Well, with all the barking, I can’t think my way out of a box.

Stella:   Why would you be in a box?

Me:        It means that I can’t think through even simple problems.

Stella:   I am sorry, Lady Human. I am sorry that we are so annoying. We are bulldogs.

Me:        No, don’t be sorry, Stella. If it weren’t for your noise, things would be too quiet around here.

Stella:   As a favor to you, we will stop barking. For today only. Just to make room for your thinking. We don’t want you to be stuck in a box. Tomorrow we will recommence.

Me:        Can’t we make that bark stoppage permanent?

Stella:   Not if you insist on mopping.

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Stella’s Blog – Why Are Humans Crazy?

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Hello!

Today’s question: Why are humans crazy?

I wish I understood humans better. Not just their long words that don’t translate into bulldoggese, but why they keep bringing in weird stuff that is scary.

The vacuum I understand. It is loud and annoying, but I now know that it will not suck me in. The humans use it to clean up dog hair. Dog hair is not a problem, but it is the humans’ time to waste so I don’t interfere.

The little round boxes that make a false wind are not a problem anymore either. They make us feel cooler and the wind is never strong enough to knock anything down. I will allow them to stay.

Then there are all the strange, loud things that Tall Man does outside. Roaring and sawing and banging. Buzzing that sounds like a giant bee. (Oh, no! Not giant insects! Not again! If we are really quiet, maybe they will go away.)

And now, the latest horror. A LONG RED POLE with a SPONGE attached to one end. Why is that so frightening? I HAVE NO IDEA, BUT IT IS!

How would you like it if a long red stick with a sponge showed up in your home and someone started dipping it in water and pushing it around the floor? Exactly! You wouldn’t like it at all. We sure didn’t. We barked and yelped and told it to leave. We didn’t care that Tall Man was the one pushing it. The awful pole with the sponge had fooled him into bringing into the house. I don’t know what it was up to, what its evil plan was, but all the bulldogs agreed that it needed to leave.

Of course, Moon the Cat was no help, as usual. She slept through the whole thing or pretended to. She may have planned the whole thing. How do we know what she is doing when she is out of sight?

How can we bulldogs stop these frightening things from happening? How long will the humans bring crazy, scary things into the house?

Well, at least things have settled down…wait, what is that in Tall Man’s hands? It is a LONG GREEN POLE with a SAW on the end of it. Humans! Will the nightmare never end?

 

Have a nice day!

 

Signed,

Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Stella’s Blog – You Call This a Celebration?

This is Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges.

What was going on last night?

Boom-booms started after the sun went to bed. They rocked the sky for hours. I thought a big storm was roaring, but when I finally agreed to let Lady Human lead me out into the yard, no storm, no rain, no wind, just boom-booms and more boom-booms.

Tiger refused to go out; she was afraid of the sky booming. Ridiculous! Tiger, never pass up a chance to  go to the bathroom!

Lady Human did not seem nervous or afraid so I decided that I did not have to worry, but I got my business done in double quick time all the same.

I waited for her to tell me what was happening. When she didn’t, I stared at her until she got the point. Humans need hints. I didn’t understand all of her words, but she said that the humans were celebrating something big and the boom-booming was how they showed their joy.

That makes no sense. When bulldogs celebrate, we don’t make loud noises – oh, wait, we do, but barking is not nearly so loud and annoying and scary as boom-booming in the sky. How the humans were making the sky boom, I have no idea. Humans are very clever and are able to make things fly. They are also silly and waste their time on things that have nothing to do with food, treats, or toys.

Bulldogs know how to celebrate. We dance, we prance, we roll, we bark, we talk, we eat, we sleep, we sniff, we run, we slap with our paws, we chew, we burp, and we let air out in other ways not so popular.

Humans could learn a thing or two about celebrating from us.

Finally, the boom-booming slowed down. Then it stopped. The humans causing it had fallen asleep or had run out of loud noise makers. But a little later, the sky got loud again, and this time we saw light flash.  A storm had arrived. Thunder cracked and sky fire lit up everything. It went on and on.

The humans may disagree with me, but I think the Great Creator was celebrating with them.

Happy Celebrating, People!

Signed, Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

 

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Stella’s Blog – Urgent Alert! – Monster Invasion!

Humans, beware! A new monster is in town! It invaded our house and took Tall Man captive. Here is its description:

Its roar is a storm wind caught in a box. It is taller than me or any of the bulldogs and we were not able to stop it. Well, to be honest, we didn’t really try. Tiger is the only one who tried. She bit at it again and again. The monster paid no attention. The rest of us barked though. I thought that was brave of us, but barking only seemed to make the monster angrier. Hey, at least we didn’t run away.

The monster grabbed Tall Man’s hand and pulled him around the room, making its awful whirring scream. It had a long, black tail that got stuck in the wall. It dragged him behind the chairs and the couch, and if anything was on the floor, it sucked it in and ATE IT! Even pieces of food that we had dropped! NO!

Finally, it pulled Tall Man into the room where cars and machines live. We don’t know what happened after that. When it got dark, Tall Man reappeared. He had escaped! We were so happy! There was no sign of the loud sucking monster! He did not say so, but we bulldogs believe that he defeated the monster in battle. He is our hero! Until the next monster shows up. Then he will have to prove himself all over again.

Where are all these monsters coming from? First, giant insects. Now obnoxious, grabby, loud-mouthed monsters with wheels and forked tails. Food stealers. We dropped that food by accident. We were planning to come back for it later. Not fair!

Transcriptionist:  Stella, that so-called monster was a new vacuum cleaner.

 No, I have seen vacuums before. This was a monster. Just ask Tall Man. It wrestled him.

Transcriptionist:  You thought he was a giant insect a few months ago. That wasn’t true either.

 You are denying the monster invasion. That means only the bulldogs will be ready when they come in force.

Transcriptionist:  Not everything is a monster, Stella.

Wrong! Everything is a monster until proved otherwise. That’s how bulldogs play it safe. Stay alert, humans!

Until next time, this has been

Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges, Queen of the Bulldog Monster Hunters

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Ouch! Don’t Stick Me With That!

We have been blessed with great veterinarians over the years and especially so since the bulldogs came. All of our dogs before that lived boring lives with fairly routine health issues. It takes guts to have bulldogs and it takes guts to be a vet that cares for their medical needs, which can be many.

Vets that come across bulldogs in their practices have to figure out mysteries, such as:

Is this a food allergy ailment? Will a simple change of diet solve it?

Why is this skin condition still not resolved? We’ve tried everything.

How can this anaerobic bacteria  be cleared from this wounded dog?

How many antibiotics can we use before antibiotic resistance becomes one of the                   problems?

We have dealt with all of the above issues with the help of our vets. Today’s issue was average, normal, ordinary.

We have two of Wiggles’ puppies and they needed rabies vaccinations.

Thank the LORD for the development of a vaccination against rabies. Can you imagine what life was like before that? There are still a lot of threats out there for humans and animals, but rabies does not have to be one of them anymore.

So we took the little boogers to be vaccinated against rabies. They already had all the other vaccinations and now they were old enough for THE BIG ONE, the one that must be administered by a licensed veterinarian, the one that is required by law in our state.

I think one of the great things about being a dog is the whole “live in the moment” experience. I have spent much of my thought life in the past and much of it in the future. Moments pass by me without notice. What happened yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or decades ago?

As if that were not enough, my mind races toward the future. What about this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow morning? What about next Thursday? What about summer? What about fall? Really? I haven’t even finished supper.

Those puppies (64 pound puppies, mind you) only wiggled and waggled and tried to play with every dog that came in the vet’s door. They weren’t worried beyond being a tad bit curious about what was going on. But they did not worry in anticipation over the shot. And when the shot came, there was not a whimper, not a cry, not a scared look on either face. “What was that? A little prick near my shoulder. Whatever. No big deal. Who’s barking outside? Have we met them yet? Does anybody have a snack?”

 I should be so calm. I should be so focused on the moment. Today. Not tomorrow, not next week, next month, or next year.

Today’s lesson for the human – be a little more like a dog. Live right now.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  (Matthew 6:34 KJV)

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Watch Out! What’s That Up Ahead?

The warm weather arrived just prior to the annual air conditioning launch. We turned the ceiling fans up to maximum, but even without cooking or baking inside the house, it wasn’t quite enough. Oh, we and the cat and the heat-sensitive bulldogs were going to live all right. Our ideal comfort level eluded us though.

We gathered the portable fans from their various locations around the house, plugged them in, turned them on high, and let them buzz their mechanical hearts out. The dogs accepted the stirred air graciously and settled down, tongues back in mouths.

The fans twirled all night and still ran strong when the cooler morning came. Nobody appeared disturbed by their presence until Tiger had to go out. She darted past me as she usually does. She has “grown up”, matured during the past few weeks. Gone are her incessant attempts to feud with Snoopey over who’s in charge of the pack. I’m not saying that is over and done with, simply that Tiger has cooled her efforts in that direction for the time being.

Tiger came back in the house and scooted past her crate, running her nose over the floor in case she had missed any food crumbs from her breakfast. When I asked her to go into her crate so I could run my errands, she backed away and glanced at the odd little round thing nearby. One of the fans, happily whirring at full blast, aimed its current of air across that side of the room.

The bulldogs are always sensitive to oddities and new items that suddenly appear in their paths. I realized right away what Tiger was trying to avoid.

I thought for a moment about moving it farther away, but I opted for an exercise in trust – her trust in me.

I called her. She hesitated and stayed back. I extended my hand. Still she waited and refused to pass the fan. I stepped forward until I could reach her and I stroked her head and neck, telling her the whole time that everything was all right and that she was safe with me. She walked a few steps toward me and the crate. She stopped alongside the vicious fan and let me pet her.

And just like that, the fan was no longer a problem. It never really had been, but Tiger didn’t realize that. She took a step of faith in me and finally trusted me enough to let me help her past her fear.

I should know better than Tiger. I don’t.

I cringe and pull back when there is something strange in my path. I am supposed to trust God to walk me past it, but I don’t. I hesitate, hold back, delay, wonder, and try to figure it out myself. And then, eventually, I take one step toward Him and His hand is there. He was there the whole time.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Freak Out

Strange events have taken over the news lately, happenings that turn the pressure up on everyone 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. We get no vacations from them, no pauses, no truces, no answers, or so it seems.

I believe in answers. I believe they exist and I believe that we can discover them. We may miss the mark, overshooting our target or undershooting it, but we can aim again. And I believe that in the center of every question and answer, in the bull’s-eye, is God.

Sometimes the problem is that we misinterpret what we see or hear because we don’t have all the facts. Just like last week when the bulldogs went nuts because they saw something strange in the backyard and sounded the alarm. (For two perspectives on what happened, check out last week’s posts, Stella’s Blog – MONSTER ALERT! – Special Edition and The First Thing is Don’t Panic.)

The bulldogs serve as barometers of tension. They make me aware that I am not aware.

Last night, we turned on the backyard bug zapper because the flying insect population had grown exponentially over the past few warm weeks of our early spring. Electrical buzzing and popping punctuated the air around the patio as kamikaze bugs flew into the light.

No problem, right? Wrong. The dogs would not go into the yard because they had to pass by the crackling, sparking box that was suspended in the corner. It was yards away from their path and the zapper had been hanging there every day, but now it had come to life. It did not occur to me that there was a problem because there was no surprise for me. I had understanding of the situation. The dogs did not.

Nor did they understand the constant hammering this morning as a neighbor had a new roof put on their house. There was a strange noise. It didn’t stop. They could not see its source. Uh-oh, better not go out in the yard.

In each case, a little patient coaxing overcame the barriers. What helped most was when we walked ahead of them into the yard and let them follow us. As long as we were present and in the lead, everything was all right.

So when our scary shows up, we need to remember: God is present. He is leading. Follow Him.

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  Isaiah 41:13 KJV

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

The First Thing is Don’t Panic

Maybe that title should come with an exclamation point. Naw. That’s really the whole issue in this post. Sometimes a crisis (or a perceived crisis) doesn’t need an exclamation point. It may need the light turned up or the volume turned down so you can understand what the matter is or whether there is a matter at all.

Stella, our “queen” bulldog, posted her Monster Alert before she had all the facts. (See Stella’s Blog – Monster Alert – Special Edition from March 29, 2016 for the details from her point of view.) She wasn’t alone in her panic. She was joined in her barking frenzy by the whole crew. Snoopey was actually the first dog to see the “monster”.

I felt sorry for them. I knew that what they saw was no monster, but I could not let them out to show them because my son, a.k.a. the Tall Man, was mowing and spreading diatomaceous earth in the yard and the dogs could not be allowed out there until everything settled. He was wearing goggles and a large breathing filter so that his lungs would not be affected. None of the bulldogs have breathing apparatus.

I’m sure he did appear like a strange creature to them. His head was covered by the equipment and he was running the loud mower.  An insect-headed interloper from a non-bulldog planet. I told them everything was all right. I tried to calm them down. I was telling them the truth. They didn’t believe me. They believed their eyes.

When my son came inside and took off his protective gear, they saw his face. All fear vanished. All barking stopped. All panic ceased.

The dogs’ panic would not have contributed to their response to the monstrous threat had it existed. Getting all wound up doesn’t help any of us answer a challenge.

The key is not to start with panic. Alertness, yes. Observation, yes. Eyes wide open, yes. Maybe even a quick step to safety until the situation is clear. Panic clouds those responses. And I wish they would trust me more. I’m the one who knew what was going on.

Oh, well, I should remember that, too.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”   (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

 

©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

Stella’s Blog – MONSTER ALERT! – Special Edition

It’s me! Stella the Olde English…Oh, I don’t have time to explain all that!! This is an alert! I can barely stop barking long enough to post this! Everybody, watch out!

THERE IS A MONSTER IN THE BACKYARD!

If you are in the backyard, it is probably too late for you! If you are a bird in the trees, fly away and warn others! If you are a squirrel, climb the nearest tree and jump over the fence! Forget about saving your precious pecans and acorns! Save yourselves! If the monster gets you, I won’t be able to chase you later. If you are a trespassing cat…well, go ahead and hang around and let’s see what happens. No, on second thought, RUN!

The monster walks on two legs like a human. It is wearing dark material like a human, probably so that it can blend into the shadows and hide, and then SPRING OUT at us when we go out to use the bathroom or sniff around and sun ourselves.

The worst part is its head. It has large bubble eyes and a mouth that looks like a bug’s face. It is ugly even by bulldog standards.

Now it has the Tall Man’s loud machine that chops the grass down! Where is the Tall Man when we need him? A monster is pushing a machine around our yard and no one is stopping it. We are all barking our heads off, but Lady Human is just sitting here saying, “It’s all right.”

NO, IT IS NOT ALL RIGHT, LADY HUMAN! THERE IS A MONSTER IN OUR YARD! NONE OF US IS GOING OUT THERE TO PEE OR POOP UNTIL THE MONSTER IS GONE! And you know what will happen if we don’t go out. YOU DON’T WANT THAT! NONE OF US DO!

TOO LATE! THE MONSTER IS COMING TO THE DOOR. IT IS COMING INTO THE HOUSE!

HORROR! It is reaching up and taking its face off! I can’t look. Yes, I can because I can’t bark with my eyes closed. It is…the Tall Man. It is not a monster after all. The Tall Man was wearing something on his head that covered his face and, all of a sudden, everything is all right, just as Lady Human said. We should have listened to her. She knew.

Now I just feel silly. We had it all wrong. There was nothing to be afraid of. This time.

Very well. Alert cancelled. Never mind.

Signed,

Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges

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©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Get in Your Own Way

Dogs interfere with their own progress on a regular basis. When I go to let Wiggles out of her crate, she routinely puts her paw on the door and holds it in place, not meaning to, just trying to help. She doesn’t realize that she is thwarting her own desire by getting too involved.

When I stand back and the crate door is unlatched, she stares at me as though I am keeping her in. All she has to do is let go of the door and it glides open.

Another routine block to progress is when I try to open a regular door and find bulldogs congregating around my ankles like cement blocks on four legs. The door won’t open. My legs can’t move except vertically. The dogs stare, wondering why the line for the bathroom is so long when the delay is caused by their own eager barrel bodies pressing against the door.

Unwittingly, they blockade themselves from the very object of their desires, and then they look at me with pitiful eyes that ask, “Why are you against us?” When they do budge enough for the door to be wedged open, they tumble through it like a cluster of clowns spilling out of a clown car at the circus.

When to take a step, when to make a move, when to speak, when to stay silent – we face these decisions every day. We rush forward when we should wait. We put our hands and mouths into situations that were never our business. We try too hard and throw stumbling blocks in our own paths.

Fear of losing out drives us to desperation. Overwhelming desire urges us to press and grab for what we think we absolutely must have right now.

In the Bible, James 4:2-3 speaks about our “lusts” (more modern word “desires”) and the problems we cause ourselves by pursuing them the wrong way. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

 Dogs’ desires are pretty obvious: food, water, shelter, exercise, affection, structure, safety, all basics. Human desires extend beyond the basics and our abilities to pursue our desires exceed what dogs can do for themselves. And that’s where we can get tripped up. There is a whole lot that we can pursue for ourselves flat out. We just have to be careful what the object of our pursuit is and that we don’t fall over our own feet.

 

©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved

That First Step

I placed a new bed pad that I had made into Snoopey’s crate. I am not an expert seamstress or dog bed designer so it puffs up high on the ends. I thought she might like that for an extra head rest and she does when she sleeps. The only problem shows up when it’s time to come out of the crate. I open the door and she hesitates, lifting one paw high, tapping the air with it, unsure that she can make that first step.

Eventually she does. She steps over the threshold and onto the old familiar solid floor. There was really no choice. Outside the crate is freedom and fresh air. And the bathroom. Going back into the crate doesn’t hold the same challenge for her though. Same crate, same pad, same puffy end, different attitude. Maybe it’s just easier to overcome obstacles when you want to go to bed.

That first step out is the crucial one. Without it, nothing else follows. She doubted her footing because the situation was new and she had to step a little bit higher than she was used to doing. Once she summoned the courage and took that step, the whole world opened up.

First steps can scare you. What if I take this step and fall flat on my face? Won’t that be embarrassing? Won’t that hurt? What if I get a bloody nose?

What if we sit in a crate all of our lives? What if we let that first step stymie us into never trying at all? We may have to pick our feet up higher and deliberately plant our steps on the ground outside our safe zone. By and large, the ground will be solid enough to support us.

And what if we do fall flat on our faces and bloody our noses? Wash it off and get an ice pack. Then take another step.

“For Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.   Psalm 56:13 KJV

 

 

©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved