Sometimes I just gotta nudge my mom. There are times when I tap her with
my paw. Sometimes I nudge her with my nose and/or rest my chin on her.
Sometimes I use my whole body to block her or get her attention quick.
You’d think I would know why I get these sudden urges to “nudge” my mom
but it isn’t always so. At times, I just want to make sure she is okay and that
she knows I am by her side.
Sometimes my mom says I just want attention and I have to admit that it’s
true. Then one of the times when my mom didn’t wear her C-Pap breathing
machine I had to tap her and tap her hard. That night she was a good mom
and put the mask back on. A few times I knew my mom didn’t see the curb
so I nudge her by walking purposely into her. I do know how to get her
attention. A trip or a fall could really hurt my mom so “the necessary nudge”
is a true lifesaving technique even when I don’t know for sure why I sense
the need to do it. My mom says in a way it is a gift.
Have you ever felt “nudged” before? Perhaps like a gut feeling not to go
somewhere or take a different way home from work? Or maybe to make
a phone call to someone you hadn’t seen in a while. Pay attention to the
“nudges” of life, you never know the life you impact or the life you may save.
There are no coincidences in life; rather there are necessary nudges.
Prevailing HOPE is my story, and my heart - to give you hope in the midst of all we go through on this earth. It’s my journey, and how the Lord has shown me how I can be okay, even when life is not okay. My prayer is that all who read this, will draw closer to the Source of All Hope - the Lord Jesus Christ.
Life Lessons From a Service Dog
We hope my short tales brings a smile to your heart. As a Service dog I am always learning new stuff and sometimes I even get in trouble. But I love every minute. I am sharing what I’ve learned in a book to encourage you that in the midst of life, there are more lessons to learn. Life is a blast, with many challenges (opportunities!).
Just ask me “the Shadow” - I know!
My mom told me when she saw the first picture of me sent to her by Judith (Lifeline Service Dogs Trainer); she was disappointed. My mom thought I was just another boring black dog! She didn’t tell Judith her thoughts because my mom loves dogs and needed me, boring or not.
Well, thankfully my mom did give me a chance. She found out that I am chuck full of personality. She calls me a character and nicknamed me “Goofus.” Beneath this black coat is one zany, happy dog that loves to get your socks and fetch your shoes. Under this black coat is what my mom calls a heart of gold and she said she wouldn’t trade me for the world…not even a pure white Shepherd.
Strangely, I have seen people treat other people who are “different” in ways that are not right. My mom is different. She doesn’t always see well and she walks with much difficulty. People are often much meaner than any black dog ever thought of being. My mom is a thankful person and she tells me not to sweat the small stuff. What others think doesn’t matter in the big picture. We have each other and love is what matters. People ought not judge a book by its cover—they could be missing an inspiring, beautiful story between the pages. Even if the cover isn’t a work of art; often the heart is.
Did you know there is actually a Black Dog Syndrome? Many black dogs are not adopted simply because of their color. There are many theories why black dogs are the last to be adopted—too many to go into in my Short Tales.
Tears flowed down my mom’s face as she sat staring at the screen of her computer. Concerned, I “tapped” her to get her attention. Mom just hugged me tight, soaking my neck with her tears. Then shared the tragic news. Sammi, my Aussie friend got hit by a car and died.
Oh, Sammi why did you have to die so young? You were so full of life and fun. I loved it when your mom came over to visit my mom and we played and played. Thank you for the times we shared.
The tragedy of losing my friend Sammi not only breaks my heart and my mom’s, it breaks our heart all over again as we pray for those who knew and loved Sammi the most—Mike and Cindy. How can I comfort such a great loss? One thing I know is to live each moment to the fullest- like it is a gift, because it is! Appreciate each day. This life has many joys but also many heart wrenching things that happen like sickness, disease, death, war, and homelessness—the list goes on and on.
But my mom read to me of a time that is coming when God Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. (Rev. 21:3)
Until then, my mom and I will be thankful for the Gift of life. We will value each day and live it to max. Until then—we Love you Sammi and we miss you! Thank you for sharing your life with us!
Boy, did my mom rock my world! We went to Petco and I thought, "Way cool, mom is going to buy me treats." I was wrong. We adopted a cat!! Sometimes I think my mom is crazy. We have a happy home why ruin it with a ca-ca-cat? Truly this is a CATastophe in the making.
Well, to my utter amazement Murphy is a pretty cool cat. You could say my attitude needed some big time adjustments and my mom helped me make them. Do cats laugh? When I chase Murphy, my mom says, “SHADOW KENNEL!” I swear Murphy turns and grins at me just as he takes off to his safe place. The very first night, Murphy had the guts to get on the bed with us! Where are the boundaries boy? My mom was up most the night helping me make more adjustments in my attitude. By morning, not only was Murphy sleeping on the bed with us, he had snuggled up to me!
It has been about a month since Murphy came to live with us. I must confess life is much more interesting. Actually, what I thought was the worst possible thing, turned out to be nice. Don’t tell Murphy but I am rather fond of the little fella. We play and run around the apartment. My mom still likes me best! She tells me I am her favorite dog!
What we think is the worst thing that could happen to us may actually turn out to be wonderful! At first it may not seem like it. Some times our attitude needs to change. It is amazing how much our attitude can dictate whether we look at life as a disaster or an adventure we can learn from and perhaps enjoy. The choice is ultimately ours to make.
Do you ever have those days or those times when you just lack the zippity do da? A time when there is nothing to wag about? The days you know that your person is hurting and all you can do is stay close?
Sometimes there seems to be nothing to wag about. Yeah there are times my tail hurts. More often I sense my mom doesn’t feel well. Once in awhile there is a sadness I sense in her. Like she lost something… for a dog it is not difficult to sense this sadness. There are
days where I know it takes everything my mom has to just walk what she calls “Brenda’s style.” Sometimes mom is literally so exhausted she drags tail from the time she gets up. I know sometimes she gets up just because of me…to let me out, give my medication and feed me.
I know on these days mom longs to just go back to bed, but stays up and does all she can to stay strong. I’ve licked her tears away as she cries from the pain and the loss…the loss of function, the loss of ability, the sense she is losing the battle against the all the things gone wrong in her body. These are NO WAG days. I linger near her and she hugs me tight.
Then I watch in amazement as my mom regroups…sometimes it takes a day or two, sometimes it takes just a little while but my mom will regroup. It is not physical strength but a strength from a different source. I sense it. Her Source of Strength is not in doctors, pills or portions but my mom strength comes from Some One she calls Her Master and LORD Jesus Christ and the Hope infused in her can not be pushed down by any circumstance for long….as her Master comes to her aid sort of like I come to hers to comfort and help.
When my mom taps into her Source it makes my day. Though I still see her struggle, still in pain and small things are difficult…there is a JOY in her that brings that strength back. This alone chases my no wag days away. My tail maybe little but when my mom has her “purpose and determination” back, boy can my tail wag!
May you never have NO WAG days. But if you do, I hope you have a source to get your wag back. Nothing is as great as that joy that bubbles up on the inside when my tail has no other choice but to …wag.
“Can I pet your dog??” How many times have I heard that!? People of all sizes,
shapes and ages ask my mom! Sure wish I got a treat for every time my mom had
to answer NO to those inquiring minds, I would definitely lose my slim figure.
Some eager hands maul me before my mom gets a chance to answer. “My dog is
a working Service dog. Do not pet!” My mom is visually challenged. Sometimes I
think these people are blind or can’t read. I need to stay focused on my mom.. I
try. Some people are very persistent.
Most people, especially the kids are curious and my mom is patient and will
answer their questions. It is the big people, those my mom calls adults that she
loses patience with. A few times my mom even had to come between a person
and me to keep them from mauling me. I tolerate most people but my job is to
take care of my mom. It is difficult to do when there are many voices trying to get
my attention or my mom’s.
With some service dogs it is not critical that they stay super focused. Their person will let
them socialize with people or other dogs while wearing the working vest. The trouble with this is that the public will see it and think it is okay to pet any service dog when they are working. This is why when you see a DO NOT PET on a service animal, DO NOT PET.
Why shouldn’t you pet a working Service Dog? Well, my mom depends on me for balance and mobility. If you talk to me while I am working, I may lose my focus and move
towards you and my mom may fall. Falling can hurt my mom very badly.
I am always working on the command of “focus” to mute out all distractions. My mom said we can only serve one master well. In order to be the best Service Dog, my desire is to serve and protect my mom, my Master. My mom desires to serve her Master and be her Best for Him. We both need to mute the voices that can pull us away from her calling.
YOU CAN HELP ME! When you see a Service Dog or animal with a vest or patch that says DO NOT PET; keep walking. Please don’t pause to look into my beautiful eyes or tell me how cute I am. Please don’t ask my mom a million questions about me. Please keep on going so I can do my work and do it well. My Master deserves no less than my Best. Thank you - from the Shadow.
A Service Dog has many tasks. Some things are a little more tricky to learn and do well. To be honest, there are a few things I have yet to master.
While learning to open the refrigerator door, I got hit in the face with the door when it suddenly opened – SMACK! That hurt! Tugging the towel (tied to the handle) gently yet hard enough to open the door, while moving out of the way is a skill I am still working on. After getting hit in the muzzle a few times a dog is ready for her “favorite beverage.”A difficult task for me is “Light On.” I am pretty good at “Light Off” but I have a long way to go to master “Light On.”
My mom says in a way, turning the light off reminds her of some people she knows. She says some people are really good at turning the “light off.” They are skilled finding the negative in almost every situation. They will stomp out the flickers of hope. Bad news travels fast. How many people would watch the news if it was good news? Some people tend to be pulled to the darkness and dwell there. They love to talk about the bad things rather than the good things in life.
I am good at turning the light off- hitting the wall switch with my paw. I need to practice turning it on. It is a lot harder. I ask my mom why can’t we just leave the light on. (Don’t want to leave the light off because it is dark).
Literally, leaving the light on all the time will run up the electric bill. But my mom says we should leave the light on in our hearts, thinking and being positive, and encouraging – no matter what the day brings. It doesn’t take any more energy for us to be positive (let your light shine) then it does to be negative (dwell in the darkness). Even in the daylight, shine on! One little light will disperse a room full of darkness. Life is too short to stay (negative) in the dark.
My mom was in the kitchen and I was laying in the hallway. I heard her say, “Shadow, bring me…” Like Superman transition in action I flew into the living room and picked up the first thing I came to and brought it to my mom. My tail was wagging with the delight of serving as I ran up to her and sat down with a sparkle in my eyes and the slipper in my mouth to give to her. My mom about busted a gut laughing. I was supposed to get my Kong and bring it to her. I didn’t listen too well but so wanted to please her.
My mom had just gone to the eye doctor. She told me she tried to remember
the letters on the chart (cheating) rather than actually seeing the letters. However, she said now they got a computerized eye chart that changes the letters. No longer would her memory help her. So in her quest to get the letters right she asked permission to squint–hard in order to focus. Permission denied. This too was the wrong way to be right.
There are at least two wrong ways of attempting to do right. In my mom’s
case she was wrong in the ways she attempted to get the letters on the chart right. However, my mom said even though my action was wrong- my heart was right. I thought I was doing what my Master wanted. Sometimes you can put your whole heart in doing what you believe is right, but find out it was wrong. Be not dismayed, perhaps you have a Master like mine, who looks at the motive of your heart.
OUCH! Suddenly a deep, electrifying pain shoots through my little tail. I bolt from my mom almost causing her to lose balance. I look back at my tail that has betrayed me, checking it out. The little stub curls over like it is trying to play dead. The pain is sudden and agonizing for those seconds. My mom calls me over to make sure I am okay. For now, I am. But I don’t know for how long before it hits again—it could be months or it could be days. The unexpected, writhing pain is almost too much to bear.
Who’d think a little tail could cause such big pain! Someone had my tail cropped when I was a pup and that choice brings me great agony at unexpected times. I wish I could have my whole tail back! Only a little bit of the stub remains. If only they had left my tail alone! Nothing can be done to undo the damage. Nothing can stop those agonizing moments. This is my short, sad tale of my short tail.
No regrets. Don’t look back.
Have you done things that later caused great grief? No matter what caused us to not do what we wish we did, there are those times in life we wish we could re-do. But we can’t. At night or at unexpected times our minds may flood with the “IF ONLYS.” If only my tail didn’t hurt, if only I wasn’t so whiny that day, if only I didn’t chase that cat, if only I could do it over again…IF ONLY!
I wish I could RE-DO a Monday. I agonized over that day. I feel like I missed an opportunity of a lifetime. But I cannot redo it. No one can fix the past. Regrets will haunt us like the squirrel that got away…unless we choose to move on. We may have moments of falling back into the agony of IF ONLY. If only’s are usually sad tales. But we have hope; we can be more determined and not miss another opportunity if it knocks.
Happy tails to you!
Some gnawed at the wire cage until their mouths bled. Many were barking incessantly while others curled up in the corner of their kennel, trembling with fear. The nice lady led me by all different sizes and breeds of my fellow canines in a long line of kennels. I didn’t understand why I was here. The only “human” dad I knew had just dropped me off at this No Kill Shelter.
We could no longer stay with our “humans” for various reasons. Some “humans” just got tired of us like one gets tired of a new toy and decides to throw it (and us) away. A few of us were dropped off because we were unwanted in the first place. Parents gave into their children who promised to take care of their new pup—but didn’t—so back to the shelter we went.
A few canines had behavior issues the humans couldn’t deal with, and a few of us were rescued from those who abused us. Every canine at the Shelter had a story.
Though The No Kill Shelter was not our choice of places to be, it was much better than where many of us were before—or where we could have ended up. The “humans” at the Shelter were so kind and patient with us. Most of us knew how fortunate, loved and cared for we were. Many of my fellow canines would be adopted by a loving forever homes. A few like me, would be trained and placed as a Service Dog, while a few would spend their whole lives at the No Kill Shelter.
All of the canines at the No Kill Shelter had one thing in common—we just wanted the chance to be a part of somebody’s life. We wanted to have somebody to love and have them love us back. Commitment is a four letter word called LOVE. Yes, even with us canines, love means commitment, dedication and work. But the benefits are great. The joy and love a human gets in return for their commitment is beyond measure. One thing we canines know how to do is bring value to a human’s life by loving unconditionally. We will never abandon our human. We will bring our humans joy, laughter and lots of sloppy slurps.
On behalf of all my fellow canines—Thank You to all the No Kill Shelters and the people who work there and all the wonderful volunteers who love us enough to give us a second chance. You Rock! Thank You for your commitment. Thank you for your love.
Well, my mom just told me I am 35 years old in human years! Boy that is a lot different than the 5 years my vet records say that I am. I don’t understand why we canines age 7 years to humans 1 year.
I look forward to each day. My mom has me on a routine which varies sometimes when we get to go out to run errands, doctor appointments and of course, the veterinarian. But most of the time my routine is the same. I am not bored by any means! I have work or harness time, Kong time, break time, kennel time and bed time. Since my life is short compared to a human’s, I pack each day with all the wonders it can possibly hold.
Time goes by too swiftly. When I hear people say, “I wish it were tomorrow,” the weekend, or some other future time—a part of me whines out “Noooo…..” Don’t wish your life away! Live it!
The last few days the squirrels have been driving me nuts. I don’t understand why they get off without a hitch running around, chasing each other (in front of MY door) and stealing bird seed!
I know I am not supposed to react to these little punks teasing me. As soon as I move one muscle towards being disobedient or when I slap a paw on the glass; my mom’s voice rings out, “KENNEL!” I have been spending more time behind bars than anywhere else lately.
I know squirrels will be squirrels and I am a dog. This is where I must not respond like…who I am…for the Greater Good of my mom’s safety. If I react with my canine instincts when I am working—helping my mom with balance—my response could leave her on the ground! That’s why I must be disciplined and not react the way my instincts urge me too. My life as a Service dog isn’t about me.
The squirrels will always drive me nuts but I don’t want to do anything to hurt my mom. She needs me to be the Service Dog I am trained to be. And who wants to do Kennel time? No squirrel is worth losing my job - my calling to serve. Besides I don’t like time behind bars. I love my freedom.
There will always be things to chase…I have friends with tails long enough to chase. Not only are they surprised if they catch it, they are disappointed. Such is life on the endless treadmill of chasing what we think we want. There is freedom and joy in service and self-sacrifice for the sake of others. It is in dying to self-will that we live; it is in giving that we really receive - a life full of purpose and passion.