Auntie Got Tongue Lashed By A Reindeer

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There is a ridiculous song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” [Elmo and Pasty, 1979], that some people think is hysterical and others don’t like it at all [I don’t like it at all]. What happened to me this Christmas is something like that song, but with a nicer outcome:

bed puppies

[Woof, when she was a puppy, and Pupper]

It looked like a reindeer, smelled like a reindeer, had a long wet tongue like a reindeer, demonstrated love for everyone and spread Christmas cheer like a reindeer, but was it really a reindeer? Surprisingly, the answer turned out to be “No.” Despite all the evidence pointing to this jolly little roly-poly animal being a Christmas reindeer; it really was my sister’s two-year-old Border terrier puppy, named Pupper. At first I thought it was my sister’s one-year Border terrier, named Woof, who was disguised as a reindeer, but it was really Pupper that wanted to get to her Christmas gifts faster. Both Pupper and Woof [same mommy], are bouncy-bouncy, full-of-energy puppies that show their unbridled enthusiasm by bouncing up and down in order to give “tongue-lashing” face washes to family, friends and strangers alike. All the while, they are wagging their tails faster than a plane‘s propeller. [They also take “power-naps.”] Both puppies call me “Auntie”.

a nap with Tannin

[My Cat Tannin was with me for 17 years]

Animals are a blessing. They make us laugh when we are in a crummy mood. They excitedly make a mad dash to the door to say, “Welcome home! I missed you so! You are the best human being in the world!” Their fanatical greeting stays the same, whether you are coming home from a week’s vacation in Florida or from the mailbox at the end of your driveway. This also happens with cats [my cats anyway] and other pets. How wonderful it is to come home, after a horrible day with people who really don’t seem to care about you, to an affectionate pet that cherishes your every move and wants to snuggle with you in your favorite chair? Animals love unconditionally. They don’t care about the mistakes you have made. They just love you to pieces.

Baby with lamb

Some animal lovers may wonder whether or not animals go to Heaven. I happen to believe the answer is an emphatic “YES!”, although I wouldn’t debate the issue with those who believe otherwise. I believe animals are important to God because they are part of His creation and hold an important role in His eternal purposes. In the Book of Romans, Paul tells us that “all of creation is groaning” and waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming [see Romans 8:19-24]. I believe “all of creation” includes all the animals God created. In Genesis 7:1-16, God commands Noah to save both his family and animals from the flood. God’s plan for redemption included people and animals. When Jesus died on the cross, He saved us from sin and death. Jesus also abolished the need for animal sacrifices.

beast of burden

All we have to do is think about where Jesus was born to realize that animals are important in carrying out God‘s eternal plan. Yes, it was to demonstrate true humility and sacrificial love when Jesus willingly gave up His rightful place in Heaven to enter our world of suffering and want [see Philippians 2:5-8 and Galatians 4:4]. God the Son was obedient to God the Father who chose to give “His One and Only Son” to enter the world in true humility and grace [See Micah 6:6 and John 3:16]. God chose animals to play a part in His Son’s birth. Just think about all the animals that might have been in that tiny little barn in Bethlehem [See Luke 2:8-20]. Even though it is not recorded in the Bible, it is widely believed Mary and God’s unborn Son rode into Bethlehem on a donkey. More likely Joseph, Mary and God’s unborn Son rode on some sort of wagon pulled by the humble beast of burden. The beast of burden transported the Baby who grew up to be the Man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief [see Isaiah 53:3-5]. I believe Jesus loved animals, during His time on earth. I believe Jesus also had a special place in His heart for donkeys.

donkey in a ditch

For example, Jesus used a donkey in one of His parables to teach an important lesson about the Sabbath: “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” [See Luke 14:5]. Jesus also rode into Jerusalem, a week before His crucifixion, on a donkey [see John 12:14]. These are only a few examples of animals playing a role in God’s eternal plan. In His teachings, Jesus also talks with affection to us, telling us that we are like sheep and that He is our Good Shepherd [see John 10]. He talks about many kinds of animals, more than I am able to include in this blog post [that was to be a SHORT one]. I’ll stop with this: In the Book of Revelation [19:11-16], at Jesus’ Second Coming, Jesus will be riding victoriously on a magnificent white horse as our Savior, Lord and King.

a white stallionjesus as high priest

The Bible passage that speaks to me the most about animals in Heaven also talks about how it will be after the Second Coming of Christ Jesus, Who will establish a New Heaven and Earth:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall put his hand over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder‘s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
[Isaiah 11:6-9]

The above passage talks about both domestic and wild animals, and children who will play with both without fear. In his book, The Problem with Pain [Chapter 9], the well-known theologian, C.S. Lewis, discusses the theological issues involved in animal immortality. Lewis writes about the relationship between human and beast:

Diesel4

[My nephew’s dog, Diesel, a pit bull, was often mistaken for a white horse. Diesel lived 13 years before he passed away a year ago.]

“Man was appointed by God to have dominion over the beast, and everything a man does to an animal is either a lawful exercise, or a sacrificial abuse, of an authority by divine right. The tame animal is therefore, in the deepest sense, the only ‘natural’ animal — the only one we see occupying the place they were made to occupy.”

In an article, Do Animals Go to Heaven? C.S. Lewis on Animal Immortality, by Carol Apple [/carol-apple], she explains, “Lewis believes that animals receive a sense of self or personality from association with their human masters. We give our animals names and they answer to those names [hopefully], and perhaps recognize themselves by them. ‘If a good sheepdog seems “almost human” that is because a good shepherd made him so,’ says Lewis. Lewis suggests, acknowledging that he is going out on a theological limb, that animals ‘attain a real self in their masters’ in a sense similar to the way humans attain real life in Christ.’ ‘And in this sense,’ suggests Lewis, ‘it seems to me that certain animals may have immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.’”Also in Carol’s article, she states, “Lewis conjectures that as man is understood by his relation to God, perhaps beasts can be understood by their relationship to man, and through man, to God.”

glasses on Bible

It’s very encouraging to realize that learned theologians think about things I think about and, like me, don’t have all the answers. However, I will point to Isaiah 11:6-9 as a Biblical passage which speaks of both tamed animals and wild animals inhabiting the New Heaven and the New Earth, as they did in the Garden of Eden. This was how all animals were meant to                                         be.

Tulip& RS hat

[My cat, Tulip, who also lived for 17 years, just as her sister Tannin did]

There are also many legends about Jesus and animals. My favorite Legend is about Baby Jesus and the Tabby Cat. The legend goes something like this: Soon after Jesus’ birth, the Baby Jesus was cold lying in a manger, in a cold and drafty barn. Mary tried everything to make her Baby warm, but nothing worked. Finely, she tried laying a barn cat next to Jesus. The body-warmth of the cat made Jesus warm and He was able to fall asleep. Mary was very grateful and touched the cat’s forehead. An M appeared on the cat’s forehead, standing for “Messiah”. From then on, the tabby cat would remind people of Messiah’s birth. [I know this is a legend and not the “Gospel Truth”, but the story makes me smile and think about my “little” Tulip.

a puppy love

[My nephew’s new dog, Misty, when she was a puppy. She is now huge]

Some people will think of all my musings about animals in Heaven as “sentimental hogwash” [Mr. Potter in It‘s a Wonderful Life]. Others may be encouraged and thankful to think that there is a possibility that their beloved pets and other animals may be in Heaven. We may not find out for sure if this is true until we get to Heaven ourselves. In Heaven, we will be with Jesus our Good Shepherd, Messiah and King. Jesus will not disappoint us. The Bible gives us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, but doesn’t give all the answers. Heaven will be beyond our wildest dreams. I Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Until that great day, let us enjoy and care for our animals as God cares for us in Christ Jesus.

[Another good “animal book” is All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot.]

In the New Year, let us have eyes to see God’s love for us through the animals He has blessed us with. [Especially keep a lookout for small lovy-dovy “reindeers” with long wet tongues and waggily tails.]

Happy New Year!

Lydia

computer cat2

[Tannin liked to hang out with me when I was blogging.]

[One of my goals for the New Year is to make my blog posts shorter. I’m not making any promises.]

Farewell My Faithful-Furry-Feline Friends

 

choc. cupcake

(Tannin – above)

It seems as though I am saying “Goodbye” to pets much too often these days. Between my sister, my nephew and me, we have said “Goodbye” to four beloved pets within about an eighteen-month period- my sister’s dog [The Good] Damon, my nephew’s [Gentle Giant] dog Diesel, my [Nurse Kitty] Tulip and her sister [Blackman 275] Tannin. It is heart-wrenching to say farewell to pets who are really family members, who for many years have stuck by our side through thick and thin. It is even harder to make the inevitable decision to have a pet put to sleep to end its pain and suffering. It seems there are many times in life in which the hardest thing to do is also the best and most loving and completely unselfish thing to do. Saying farewell to Tulip and Tannin, my “purrfect” housemates for about seventeen years was heartbreaking. However, they have left me with so many happy memories, all of which make the difficult times all worthwhile.

(Tulip – below)

Tulip& RS hat

Tulip was my “Nurse Kitty” who always had a watchful eye on the visiting nurses who came to see my dad and mom. My parents came to live with me when my dad had a severe stroke, so that my sister Jane and I could care for their needs. Tulip was always in the room watching the nurse with my parents or “checking” her paperwork on the dining room table. My sister and I will never forget the day my mom passed away. [My dad had already passed away eight years prior]. Tulip was in my mom’s room, moving from one end to the other, as though she was waiting for something. When the nurse and caregivers had finally gone out of the room and only Jane and I stayed, Tulip jumped on Jane’s lap and onto our mom’s bed and to lie beside her. Tulip wanted to say “Goodbye” to her. Jane and I looked at each other in utter amazement. How did Tulip know she was gone? It was what I call a God-thing!

a cat window couch

Tulip was also quite generous. Because she was an indoor cat, she did her hunting in the cellar. She would gift me with screws, small tools, Mark’s air brushes and old mittens. She could meow with these things in her mouth, as though she was calling, “Come look! See what I brought you from the dark ‘jungle” down cellar. Sometimes, Tulip was too generous when, on three separate occasions, she brought a real mouse to my bed. She couldn’t understand why I was yelling and jumped out of bed so fast. It was 11 p.m. and I would wake my sister and family. I wasn’t watching sports on TV when I normally yell and scream. What was I thinking? Tulip was quite the hunter.

Christmas Kitty 1

Tannin, on the other hand, would only come up from the cellar covered in cobwebs. Because she was black, my dad called her, “Blackman”. Our dad often gave people and pets his own special nicknames for them, maybe because he couldn‘t remember their real names. Because Tannin had the habit of suddenly dashing from room to room and darting behind furniture and curtains, as though she was being chased by someone or something [possibly “The Red Baron“], my sister and I nicknamed her “Blackman 275” because 007 was taken. Tulip’s favorite person was my mom and Tannin’s favorite person was my dad. Tannin would often climb on top of him in bed and lay on his belly. One time, after my dad passed away, my dad’s brother and his wife came to visit my mom. When Tannin saw our uncle, she was beside herself and kept rubbing against his legs and wanting to jump on his lap. Normally, Tannin stayed away from strangers and especially men. But, she either thought my uncle was my dad or she knew that he had a special connection to my dad. This was another God-thing!

a cat window 2

Tulip and Tannin were close when they were kittens. When Jane and I first brought them home, after I had finished typing on my word processor, I looked for them, but they were nowhere to be found. I looked for them for about twenty minutes, when I finally noticed a bump inside the back of my recliner. When I peaked inside, there they were huddled together because they were in a strange place and Mommy Kitty was nowhere to be found. It did not take long for Tulip and Tannin to feel at home, especially in my apartment because they had excess to every window, but the bathroom window, and they had “kitty condos” to scratch and to climb. Tannin did try to play the role of Mommy Kitty by trying to wash Tulip with “tongue lickings”, literally. But Tulip would have none of that and would escape Tannin’s hold on her and run far far away. This did not deter Tannin from being Mommy Kitty. One time, Tannin was running in a frenzy from window to window and didn’t stop until I looked to see what was “out there”. When I looked out the dining room window I saw Tulip outside, in the bushes. Someone must have left the side door open, and when I opened the side kitchen door for Tulip to go do her hunting in the cellar, she instead went outside. I called my sister and she was able to return Tulip to safety. Tannin knew “it was a jungle out there” because of the busy street we lived on. Tannin was looking out for her sister Tulip. I believe this was another God-thing!

a nap with Tannin

When both my parents passed away, Tulip and Tannin were great comforts to me. It seemed like they would take turns giving me “pet therapy”. It’s like they were saying, “Pet me and you will feel better.” Tulip was the one who adopted me. Originally, Tannin was my kitten and Tulip was my nephew Noel’s kitten. We got them from the Waldens, church friends, whose ministry is providing the best kittens ever to those in need of kittens. Tulip would come downstairs to my apartment to visit her sister Tannin. There were window views everywhere, which must have been like “kitty heaven” to Tulip. After awhile, when someone came to bring her back upstairs, she hid in the closet or behind the couch. One time, she even crawled through a hole in my sister’s stairway, which was being remodeled, and walked out of my closet and into my living room. She escaped! After awhile, Noel lost interest in having a kitten, so Tulip stayed with Tannin and me.

Christmas Kitty 3

It’s fascinating how siblings are so different from each other. I have two sisters and a brother and we are all different and unique individuals. God made us to be our own unique person. It would be rather boring if we were all the same. This is also true with animals. Tulip and Tannin had their own unique personalities. For instance, because they were long-haired cats I would bring them to the groomer in the spring, to get “lion cuts”. This helped get rid of the any nasty mats in their fur and also made them “cool cats” during the summer months. When they came back from “The Spa”, Tulip would be mortified and hide in the closet, but Tannin gave us a real-life “purrrfect “example of a “cat walk”. Tannin pranced around to show everyone how beautifully stunning she was by showing off her new hairdo. Another example of how different they were was Tulip was more of a “lovey-dovey” lap cat who loved to be pet, came when she was called and would tap me or anyone with her paw to get our attention [first time without claws, second time with claws]. On the other hand, Tannin was a cat’s cat who came to you only when it was her own idea. It took awhile for Tannin to warm up to people, but when she did you had a friend for life. For example, when my friend Pam first tried to pet Tannin, she hissed at her and didn’t want Pam to touch her. After awhile, when Tannin got to know Pam, whenever Pam came over, Tannin would always climbed up on Pam’s shoulder to get hugs. Finally, Tulip was more of a box cat and Tannin preferred baskets.

a cat on bed 1

As they got older, Tannin and Tulip were not very close. However, they never fought and they respected each other’s space. They were good at sharing and taking turns. Tulip liked to be on my [her] bed and kept me company while I was working on the computer. She also shared the bed with me when it was time to go to sleep. Tannin kept me company when I was watching TV, in the living room and would take “cat naps” with me on the recliner. In 2012, I was very sick and was hospitalized several times. When I finally was well and came home to stay, Tulip and Tannin both slept on the bed with me for awhile because they were happy I was home and well again. Even though normally they barely crossed paths, when Tulip had to be put to sleep in September 2014, Tannin seemed lost without her. She would find unusual places to hang out; places she never went to before to lie down. First, she went to lie down on top the mantle of my fake fireplace. Then, she decided she liked being under my fake Christmas tree. Sometimes, she would nibble on a branch, but most of the time she would just lie there and look out. She became my Christmas Kitty. I tried to think nothing of it.

fireplace Tannin2

But Tannin’s unusual behavior worried me. When Tulip was getting sick, she picked unusual places to lie down. First, it was near her food, which was near the door going up to Jane’s house. I had to call Jane and tell her to let me know if she was coming down, so that I could move Tulip. Next, Tulip chose the shower to lie down and next the shower room floor. Both were near the litter box in the bathroom. Even though she was not herself, when someone brought her to the couch and petted her, she still had the loudest purr ever. You could hear Tulip’s purr from the other room. But, Tulip stopped eating, drinking and voiding. She was saying that it was time for her to go. I knew she would go first because she was born with a heart murmur and had feline allergies and had to get steroid injections about every three months. I said “Goodbye” to my faithful, fury, feline friend. After Jane and I took Tulip to the vet for the last time, I was sitting outside on the porch, looking up at the clouds, asking the Lord to comfort me. Up in the sky, I saw a cloud formation that looked like Jesus with Tulip in His lap and she was getting ready to pounce on something. Whatever

God is LOVE

I saw, real or imagined, the Lord did use it to comfort me. It was another God-thing!
Tannin was doing okay up to the end of December of 2014, despite the strange places she went to nap. But starting in January, I noticed she was having trouble eating. When she bit into her food pieces would spray onto the floor. Tannin was losing weight. I tried to help by changing her cat food to one that was for older cats, with natural ingredients and easier to digest. She did well for a few days and seemed to like the new food, but the improvement didn’t last for long. She was having trouble eating and drinking and would only stare at her dishes. She also began to meow from out of the blue. She wanted more attention and would climb from under my computer keyboard into my lap and up onto my shoulders. When she did this, I would finish what I was doing to spend time with her. When Tannin stopped voiding, I knew she was telling me it was time for her to go. I said “Goodbye” to my faithful, fury, feline friend on February 19, 2015, as I did to my “Nurse Kitty” Tulip last September. Tulip and Tannin enriched my life by always being there for me. They were truly my loyal and loving friends. I thank the Lord for giving them to me and making them part of my life for almost seventeen years. It was truly a God-thing.

computer cat1

The veterinarian sent me a lovely card with the following poem:

Four Feet in Heaven
(By Alice E. Chase)

Your favorite chair is vacant now
No eager purrs to greet me
No softly padded paws to run
Ecstatically to meet me.

No caring rubs, no plaintive cry
Will say it’s time for feeding.
I’ve put away your bowl,
And all the things you won’t be needing.

But I will miss you little friend,
For I could never measure
The happiness you brought me,
The comfort and the pleasure.

And since God put you here to share
In earthly joy and sorrow
I’m sure there’ll be a place for you
In Heaven’s bright tomorrow…

Do you believe that our beloved pets have a place in Heaven? This is a topic for another time. In the meantime, my friends and family are helping me during my grieving process with new puppies to pet and play with; caring emails, phone calls and visits; and roses, tulips and hyacinths that fill my living room with the fragrances of Spring. Thank you all! How wonderful is God’s creation! The promise of Spring is a God-thing.

hyacinths

“If of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
Alone to thee are left,
Sell one and from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul.”
(Muslihuddin Sadi, 13th Century Poet)

Peace,
Lydia

Puppy Love

I wanted to send this post out on Valentine’s Day, but my brian was frozen. The following are BEFORE and AFTER photos of loving and beloved Canine Companions:

BEFORE

Sweet Pup 6

Do you remember “Pupper”? My sister Jane brought her home just after Thanksgiving, 2013, after the RED SOX became World Champions for the 3rd time in ten years.

AFTER

A Pupper and ME

There are 3 puppies in this photo. Two are mine and Jane’s Pupper all grown up. We were watching the Patriots’ quest for the Lombardi Trophy.

BEFORE

Christmas PuppiesChristmas Puppies4

Jane decided Pupper needed a sister, so she brought home “Woof”. This photo was taken after the Patriots won the Lombardi Trophy for the 4th time in the 21st Century. I had my Christmas tree up until February, 2015. [I think Woof had to tinkle.]

AFTER

Cute Puppy

This is Woof and her “Auntie” sitting on Jane’s recliner. I had to put on an apron, in order for Woof to be seen in the photo. I was telling her a secret: “Don’t tell Mark about the next walnut practical joke. It’s just between you and me. Okay?”

BEFORE

cute Woof in the Snow

Pupper loves to play in the snow, but it’s too cold for Woof. Woof would sink into the snow and she would not like that at all. BURRR!

AFTER

bed puppies

After playing in the snow, Pupper decided to take a nap. After Woof played hard indoors, she decided to take a nap too with Pupper. AAH! A dog’s life – there’s nothing like it.

BEFORE

Diesel6Diesel 1Diesel4damon

 

Diesel, my nephew Luke’s Gentle Giant of a dog was one of a kind. After my sister’s dog [the good] Damon, was hit by a car, causing brain damage, Diesel became his “therapy dog”. After Damon came home from the animal hospital [Tufts], he could only walk in one direction and in circles. When Damon was able to go on short walks, Diesel walked on his weak side, so that Damon would walk straight. When they were home, Diesel would chase Damon around the dining room table. He would chase him in one direction, and then turn on a dime and chase him in the other direction, so that Damon would learn to run both to the right and to the left again. No one told Diesel to do these things for Damon. [Damon lived to be eight years old; many years after being hit by a car.] Diesel was truely one of a kind. After thirteen years of being a faithful and loving friend, Luke and all of us had to say “Goodbye” to Diesel. It was a very heart-wrenching thing to do for Luke and his wife Trish, but it was the loving and best thing to do for their Gentle Giant and faithful friend.

AFTER

a puppy love

Diesel left a “GIANT” hole in the hearts of Luke and Trish. We will always remember him and his memory will cause us to smile. No one can replace Diesel, but a puppy can help grieving hearts and fill the need to love. Luke and Trish went to get their new puppy on Saturday, February 14th [Valentine’s Day], in Rhode Island, the state where they were married. Though the puppy’s breed is the same as Diesel’s, it’s a female and her color is dark. She will become her own “one of a kind”. She doesn’t have a name yet, but I kinda like “True Blue”. We’ll just have to wait until she gives herself a name.

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals” [Proverbs 12:10a – NIV].

banana split love

Peace,

Lydia