My favorite Anxiety Relievers

After  yesterday’s post about relaxation, I realized I left out an important part of my own relaxation/anxiety management plan:

 

anxiety relief

 

I could pet these guys for hours, and honestly sometimes I almost do.

 

Settling in for a good pet/cuddle session with my hounds not only lowers their anxiety, but my own as well.

I think there is actually scientific proof about how petting a dog lowers blood pressure and releases oxytocin.

But you know what? Instead of looking that up and linking it here, I think I’m just going to go pet my dogs and experience the results.

 

May you too have someone warm and cute to cuddle with tonight.

Giveaway Winners

The prize giving puppies are excited to share with you that they have chosen the winners of last week’s giveaways!

 

giveaway prize puppies

 

 

Congratulations to the winners who will be notified today via e-mail and 

THANK YOU

again and again to all of you for your support.

As Emily Freeman shared recently at She Speaks,

 

A blog is not just the words of one person,

but a community that comes together to share about matters that

are important to them all.

Thank you for sharing this space with me. I hope that you all feel safe and supported in sharing the matters that are on your heart and that you would find something here that encourages you toward

giveaway

 

Peace to you all and Happy Monday!

 

Life’s Little Gifts: A tribute to Sheba

Have you ever had a gift drop into your life just when you needed it most?

Three years ago my Father-in-law, Bobby, passed away leaving a hole in our family’s life. This hole was most deeply felt by my dear mother-in-law who had married Bobby at age 18 and spent the next 59 years of her life by his side. Losing a loved one is never easy, but I cannot imagine the loneliness and just plain strangeness that she must have experienced as she learned to go on without him.

Needless to say we all worried about her quite a bit that first year. Grieving a long beloved spouse is a tricky business. We prayed for God to give her the grace to pull through and move on in this new way. As we all moved through the sadness, we looked for any way to help that we could. But as many weekends we spent together, trips we took, and phone calls we made, we realized we still could not be there to encourage her day after day.

As we prayed and groped for relief to the grieving, a little gift was dropped into our collective laps.

a lap dog if there ever was one

a lap dog if there ever was one

 

 

Being the dog lovers we are, we had batted around the idea of a dog for Grammy a time or three. We scanned the papers for pups and offered to visit shelters with her. Then one day, she surprised us with the news that she had taken a trip to a local shelter, was introduced to Sheba and found love at first sight.

At first we thought the dog was an unlikely choice. She was an eight year old Boston terrier/ Chihuahua mix that was still recovering from having her latest litter of puppies. She had one bulgey Boston terrier eye that seemed to work and one Chihuahua eye that was clouded and weepy.

But even though the dog required some TLC and healing time, it turned out she was the perfect choice. Her small frame and gentle demeanor allowed my mother-in-law to be able to care for her even with a bad back. She never ran off or got under Grammy’s feet. In fact, she spent most of her time cuddled next to Grammy wherever she was. She greeted her happily at the door, kept her company while she watched TV, took walks with her, checked e-mail with her. Wherever Grammy was, Sheba was sure to go.

If I’ve seen love anywhere, I witnessed it flowing from this dog toward her rescuer.

I think Sheba must have known she hit the jackpot when she got rescued by my mother-in-law. I don’t know all the details about the early years of her life, but I would bet good money she had never been pampered and cared for like she was these past few years. But the way that my mother-in-law rescued Sheba is only half the story.

For the beauty of Love is that is blesses both the giver and the receiver.

The love and devotion of this dog became a surprisingly powerful source of comfort and joy for my mother-in-law. Indeed we all delighted in her sweet presence as she became such a part of our life it was hard to imagine a time before we had her with us.

In our time of sadness and struggle this little furball came into our lives like a pint-size gift. As Isaiah writes, where there once was weeping there was now laughter. Where there was once was heartache that was now joy.

Of course a dog could never replace my father-in-law. But her sweet presence reminded us that there is still much good left in life. That there are new joys and surprises still to be had.

I am sad to say that our time with sweet Sheba has come to an end. As happened with my father-in-law three years ago, she lost her great battle with cancer. Even though we lost her physical presence with us last week, the gift of her love for us lives on.

Sweet Sheba, even as we grieve, we are forever grateful for the joy that you brought to us in a time when it was sorely needed. Though we miss you sorely, we will carry the memories of the comfort and hope that you shared.

It is ironic that once again we find ourselves in need of a gift of comfort as we grieve the one who once helped ease our grief. As my years on this earth increase, I am more and more aware of the sadness and hardship that accompanies life. At the same time, I trust that even (and especially) in the hardest of circumstances Life brings little gifts of comfort to us to help us make it through.

Have you ever received a little gift from Life just when you needed it most? What was it and how did it help you through?

 

 

How Community Heals

This is the last in the trilogy of blog posts on what the new dog I didn’t even want is teaching me about life. Otherwise know as, Dang it dachshund, how did you win me over so quickly?

I will readily admit that I was not in favor of getting a new dog. I was hurting over the death of our beloved terrier and couldn’t imagine who would replace him in our home. We still had the hound dog with us and I was content to spend my days comforting the spotted one about his brother’s absence. I really thought the hound dog was okay. I was walking him extra, petting him extra, snuggling him on the sofa more. But then after Christmas I noticed his tail. He had begun licking a spot that was now balding and red. We assumed maybe he got a scratch or bug bite and it would go away.

It did not go away. So we wrapped his tail with athletic tape (we are nothing but cheap around here). This slowed him down a little, but eventually he always got the tape off. Time wore on and the place on his tail got worse, not better. We would find it raw and bleeding. Eventually I broke down and took the spotted hound to the vet. We gave him prednisone for a couple of weeks. It helped a little, but I think only because the medicine made him feel so bad he didn’t even feel like licking his tail. The vet advised that if the prednisone didn’t work maybe we should try Xanax.

Xanax. For my dog. Who apparently has was having depressive/anxious symptoms.

how cummunity heals

another adventure with spotted hound and terrier

So yeah, I guess dogs go grieve the loss of their friends. For we all want a best buddy. We crave someone who is like us, who gets us, to go through life with.

The Xanax comment sent me to the papers to start checking out rescue pups. We visited a couple of shelters and started meeting animals. I think I knew the chubby dachshund undergoing heartworm treatment was our guy when the vet nurse caring for him started interviewing me on the phone when I called to ask about him. She even got a little chocked up talking about how great he was and how they had all grown very fond and protective of him.

I’ll be honest that it wasn’t love at first sight between the little hound and the spotted one. Our big guy moped and pouted for a day or two that someone new was getting attention in the house. But then we noticed them playing together. And then we’d catch them cuddling on the sofa at night. After a few days the spotted one had a new bounce in his step out on walks again. He would come back from our school run car rides with a look of joy I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

IMG_4209

And then about a week and a half after we got the new dog I noticed it. Spotted one’s tail. It was almost entirely well. There was no more redness or bleeding at all. The skin had all grown back and new fur was coming in.

I jumped up with relief and started sharing the news with my husband. My guy, the therapist, said he was not surprised. He talked about how horses that are kept in pastures alone often suffer from tail biting. He went on to say that when he sees a teenager or young adult that is self-mutilating he always asks them about what kind of community they have.

It makes sense really.

For we were not made to be alone. We were meant for community. We were designed to need buddies to walk with us and share in the great joys of life like car rides and after dinner treats. 

Its just as well really. Life does seem to be better when we travel with a beloved pack. We play more and smile more. We have someone to keep us warm during the cold, dark nights.

So thanks little hound. Not only for making me smile everyday, but for bringing joy back to our sad spotted guy.

And you out there feeling sad and lonely on the sofa by yourself? There’s are buddies out there for you too. I know many days you don’t feel like making the effort to find them. But pick yourself up, start looking around, and take a chance on community again. Once you find a good pack of people, it will heal wounds you could not have imagined possible.