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Thursday, October 28, 2010


Notah’s old dog Huck finally had to be euthanized. I felt really sorry for Notah, having to make that decision. He had Huck for a lot of years, ever since his second year in college.
Actually Notah didn’t decide to adopt Huckleberry. Huck decided he was Notah’s dog. Or maybe it was that Notah was his man. One way or another they connected.
I acquired Huckleberry when I was director at the daycare. The United Way Director’s assistant was conducting a fundraising activity at the Coshocton McDonalds and there was this Dalmatian dog running around the parking lot trying to get in people’s cars. The employees said it had been there for several days and they were going to call the dog warden. The United Way lady couldn’t let that happen so she loaded it up and brought it back with her. 
Well, what were they going to do with a DOG in the United Way offices? So their solution was to bring it over to DAY CARE! Oh yeah. That works. A stray dog with no indication of shots or temperament in a DAY CARE!  But then, there’s Vondi who couldn’t let a lost dog go to the pound.  
The spotted dog had to stay in my office, but he seemed okay. The kids kept sticking their heads in to look at him. Different people came through and saw him. One mother even decided to take him home. She said her landlord had told her she could have a small dog. Well, who in the world EVER called a dalmatian small? In about an hour she brought him back saying her landlord had said he was too big. Who would have guessed?
By that time I was regretting having let her take him because Notah had been talking about wanting a dog of his own in Columbus. This was a pretty dog, quiet, friendly and perfect. I believe that was a Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. By quitting time that afternoon, I had named the dog Huckleberry because his spots were so dark blue they were the color of ‘huckleberries.’ I guess I could have called him ‘blueberry’ but Huckleberry seemed to fit better. Maybe because of the kids’ cartoon “Huckleberry Hound.” But he wasn’t ‘Huckleberry Hound.” He was just Huckleberry. Huck went home with me to see if Notah would like him. I have no idea what I planned to do with him if Notah didn’t want him.
Fortunately, Notah had nothing to say about it. Within an hour of meeting Notah, Huckleberry decided that Notah was going to be his Master. If Notah got up from the couch to go after a cup of coffee or get a drink of water Huckleberry went with him. If Notah went up stairs to the bathroom, Huck went with him. If Notah napped on the couch, Huck was beside him. It was a done deal. Huck was Notah’s dog.
The only bad thing about Huck was that he wasn’t real fond of little kids. He would bite them if they didn’t heed his warning grumble. How it was that he didn’t bite a pre-schooler during that afternoon at day care was only due to the grace of God. He left marks on a couple little kids in the years after.
He had a bit of wander-lust, too, at first. Once he ducked out the door when someone was delivering pizza or soliciting or something like that. He was gone for quite a while. Notah searched and put up flyers. I think maybe he even put an ad in the newspaper. After a couple weeks he got a call from someone who thought they might have his dog. Sure enough, when Notah got there it was Huck. Everybody thinks dalmatians are like the cartoon dogs in 101 Dalmatians, but they aren't. The guy who had him also had a little girl. I’ve always thought the only reason the guy called Notah was because Huckleberry was grumbling at the little girl and she was scared of him. Thank the Lord he didn’t bite her.
After that, Huck stayed home.
When Notah and Kerra began dating the first thought in my head was danger to the kids. Keva was about 4 or 5 and Seth was under two. As it turned out, there was no big problem. When the Seth was little Notah watched Huck closely. Later he learned just like Keva did that if Huck growled it meant, “Leave me alone. I don’t want to play.”  
Huck never did get over being snappy, but he would have died before someone could have hurt his kids.
After Notah and Kerra were married, Huckleberry slept with the kids every night. He was the first dog Seth could remember. He had no complaints at all about adding Kerra and the kids to his list of Important People. One of Notah’s favorite games with the kids was to use a marker and make an extra spot on Huck then challenge Seth and Keva to find it. They seemed to enjoy it as much as Notah did.
Huck was a comfort lover. He liked warm soft sofas. He liked soft beds with warm bodies in them. He liked snuggling with someone on the sofa. And he grumped when his comfort was disturbed. He definitely liked his food dish when it was filled. He enjoyed hiking in the desert with his people. He never got bitten by a rattlesnake or smacked by a porcupine, but he did step on a few prickly pear thorns and goats’ heads were his curse. He was always stepping on them and either chewing them out himself or waiting while Notah pulled them out. His black and white coat always seemed to be clean, even when he was out in the dirt. He disliked snow and rain. Notah used to tease him about his spots fading and running.
Notah used to tell about camping once when there was some large animal outside the tent. He thought perhaps it was a bear since they were camping down on ‘Pop’s Farm’ in Guernsey County. That’s pretty wild country. Notah and his friend both heard what ever it was making noise and brushing against the tent. They opened the door of the tent to go see. They went out, but Huckleberry stayed inside. You see, it was raining and Huck couldn’t risk his spots blurring. They never did figure out what was outside. It took off when the flashlights came on.
For several years, Huckleberry had cysts in his lungs. The vet who diagnosed him said there wasn’t much that could be done to fix it and Notah decided to keep him as long as he wasn’t in too much distress.
For the last year or so, he was gradually getting worse. I thought it was complicated with some congestive heart failure. Finally, he wasn’t able to breathe or rest comfortably. Notah made the decision to euthanize him on. 
He was a good dog. He left an empty place in my heart when he left. The one in Notah’s must be bigger.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh To Be Like Thee - a cappella

There are many times when I’ve been in a quandary because I know so many people who seem to be ‘good Christians.’ Their conversation is sprinkled with references to God and with bits of scripture. They often refer to their morning devotions and their study group and their lesson from this or that teaching outline. I don’t talk about my devotions with that kind of frequency. They talk about their church activities. their youth outreaches, their senior support groups and their (heaven help us!) Christian diet group. They are busy with missions and with the ‘ladies’ group’ or conversely, the ‘men’s group.’ They go on ‘retreats.’ They talk of having a ‘wonderful time in the Lord.’ I’m pretty much house bound and even when I got around better I never participated in ‘ladies’ groups’ or ‘retreats’ (the few ladies’ Bible studies I went to were shallow and devoid of the Holy Spirit so I didn’t continue) They testify of the blessing they received by hearing this “Christian rock” band play and how wonderful it was. They encourage me to listen to their favorite radio station because it is in tune with today’s modern youth in playing “Christian music” they can relate to. They invite people (and me) to this and that Christian concert or special service. I never attended a ‘Christian concert’ and I do see any thing of Christ in ‘Christian rock’. And I’m made to question just why the Spirit in me doesn’t bear witness with their spirit.
I’ve searched my heart many times to see just what was wrong with me. And quite frankly I have been accused of having a contrary spirit, a critical spirit and a hypocritical spirit because I didn’t go along with modern religious practices. It has hurt many times. I’ve never had any proclivity or urge to walk with them, but their negative feelings toward me have caused heartache. And in those times I guess I have done my share of questioning just how they could make such a big deal of being a Christian and not show one modicum of Christ in their lives.
Tonight, while I was brushing my teeth (I guess I’m different from a lot of people because thinking on the things of God isn’t relegated to certain times or positions. I think bout Bible verses and the things of God at all kinds of times throughout the day.) Anyway, tonight I was thinking about the question as to why they could sound like such godly people but not act like Christ. And quite suddenly the book opened up to me.
The key is that they like to talk about God; they like to talk about Jesus, they like to talk about the Bible, but they don’t like to participate in the reality of serving the God of the Bible and the Jesus of the Bible. This might be compared to how I can talk about Navajo religion. I know more about it that most people and I can explain a lot about it. I can say I believe the ceremonies are awe inspiring. I can say that the sand paintings the medicine men make are beautiful and wonderful. I can explain how they are incorporated into religious and healing ceremonies. I can talk about the hero twins and the first woman and other figures from the Navajo religion. I can talk about hand tremblers and Navajo seers. I can recount circumstances when the authenticity of the seer has been proven. I can say how beautiful the singing is and how moving it is to hear a Navajo song to the morning drifting across the desert when all else is silent. But when it comes down to trusting my eternal soul to the Navajo religion I am not a ‘true believer.’ I merely have a lot of information. I can talk about it without believing in it.
That is exactly the way many men and women are acquainted with God today. They merely have a knowledge of Him and the Bible; they don’t worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus said,“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9. This very same thing is true today on every hand. What an exact description this is of men and women and young people today, 2000 years after Jesus spoke the words. So very, very many in society today are talking about God, but their hearts are far from Him.
That’s why I have so much trouble having a deep fellowship with them as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Because I am endeavoring to be like Christ and not just talk about Him, we have little in common and our fellowship is affected.
And that’s what the Lord showed me while I was brushing my teeth. Isn’t He some kind of God! It’s great!