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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Still more Life with Ike

Many of you have asked, “How is Ike?”

Upon reviewing my folder marked “Columns”, I realized the Chronicles Of Ike have been noticeable scant. It is not that I don’t care for the little guy; I most certainly do

It is just that…well…giving a day by day account of a dog’s life has the potential to be somewhat boring. One can only read:

“I woke up. I ate. I went outside and did my thing. I came in side and begged part of a banana from the lovely lady. Took a nap. I woke up, and got a drink.  I barked at the neighborhood cat. Barked at a squirrel, and then played with my new chew toy. Took a much needed nap. Awoke to save everyone from a blue-jay once again. I ate again.” And, so it goes. Not the most riveting stuff ever written.

But, time has progressed, and so has Ike. He will be two this spring. The cute, cuddly animated Beanie Baby which invaded our home has grown into a stately, dignified, handsome dog. Finally, his head is growing into his ears. I no longer worry a stiff gale will pluck him aloft like an autumn leaf. He is a classic looking Bulldog.

My Lovely Bride, having long ago cast aside any hopes of training me, has spent a good deal of time working with Ike. He has been learning all sorts of things; waving Hi, rolling over, sit, down, heel, come front… all manner of doggie things. He has also been learning obedience, agility, and (I am not kidding) “canine freestyle”.

From what I have been told, and can comprehend it is a form of dancing, albeit with a four-legged partner.  Kevin Costner may have danced with wolves; LB dances with Bulldogs. I have yet to call her “Dances with dogs”… it may not be terribly well received.

The idea is to pick music which corresponds to the dog’s stature, gait and movements. This is then coupled with various Obedience and Agility maneuvers, which result in a rhythmic dance. To me, “Low Rider” comes immediately to mind. For some reason, I can’t picture Ike grooving to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies”. 
The big recital is coming up in a few weeks; so I will be as surprised as anyone to hear what was chosen.

Just the other day, LB and I received quite a surprise in the mail. A large, official looking manila (did you call it “vanilla” when you were a kid, too?) envelope, addressed to her. Hands shaking with excitement, she opened it.  Contained within, accompanied by a letter of achievement and congratulations were……  Ike’s RN!!

Imagine that!?! We had no idea he was even enrolled in school! And to think he is now “Ike, RN”. Wow!!

This did go a long way in explaining the dog hair on my laptop, and the data overages on our cell phone bill. Obviously, he took courses on-line. When he was at dog shows, training, etc; he would sneak into LB’s phone and catch up on his course work.

I was so proud; I could have popped a button. Just as I was about to call the local paper and have them send over a reporter pronto and cover “Local Dog Gets Nursing Degree”; my Lovely Bride pointed out “RN” means “Rally Novice” and is an American Kennel Club Obedience title.

Well, I’ll tell you what….my disappointment was no less than realizing I missed the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol…..again. Still that is pretty cool, getting his first doggie title.

It’s just that any thoughts I had of his getting a good job, and picking up some of his own freight were pretty much over.

However, all may not be lost.

Recently, LB auditioned for a local indie play/movie project. The new thing in live theater is incorporating previously shot video with live action. This is something I incorporated in our church productions about 6 years ago.  But I digress.

She was cast in the role of the Judge. Upon receiving the full script, and reading through it; she noticed the leading character’s BFF is a Bulldog. When she asked the producers about the part, she was told that another dog was in mind.

However, when she initially sent a recent photo of herself, it was the photo of her and Ike when he got his title ribbon at a dog show. The producers went back, saw Ike, and (drum roll)… he is now the leading dog!

The ironic part is, he has more appearances than LB! Proving once again, W.C. Fields was right; “Never work with children or animals”.

As of this writing, he is taking it all in stride; curled up on his doggie blankets, snoozing in front of his toys.
Life for Ike and Life with Ike is good.

HEY!!!   I wonder if he ran the Prize Patrol off?? Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015

Happy New Year.

No, seriously. I sincerely hope 2015 is a happy, new year. Lord knows this old world can use it.

Many have asked me “Why only one column in December?”

The reasons are many and varied. Busy with writing and re-writing, and re-writing again, our Church Christmas production. Getting things done for Christmas, shopping, wrapping gifts, etc. We enjoyed a much needed trip to Virginia to visit our daughter Aubrey, son-in-law John and wonderful grandchildren Gwen and Rocky over Christmas. Being a proud Father at our son Gabe’s graduation was tossed into the mix over the same trip.  Add an end of the fourth quarter drive at work to finish the year well above quota (which I did); well… any and all are sufficient cause to not write.

But, the answer is far simpler; I had a fairly moderate case of Curmudgeon-ism. No one wants to hear from a certified Curmudgeon; especially at Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanza, or Winter Solstice, whichever one chooses to celebrate.

And, like clock-work and in relative silence, the calendar page turneth.

Each year I resolve to not make any resolutions. So far, my record of success has been impeccable. Oh, don’t think for a moment I am beyond any form of self-improvement. Just talk with my Lovely Bride, she will quickly dissuade you of any such silly delusions.

Rather, I make lists. Lists in my heart and my head; lists of things I would like to achieve over the ensuing 365 days.

The Perennial Chart-topper is this: to be more Christ-like. I hasten to point out this does not entail having a holier-than-thou attitude. In fact, it is far from such an outlook. It is a personal admonition to me to see people through His eyes, to hear their words with His ears, and to feel for them with His heart.

Hot upon the heels of Number One is Number Two, to not forget Paul’s commandment to men in the book of Ephesians; “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church that he gave Himself for her.” Anyone who has been married more than 2 months knows this can be a challenge at times. Especially when the toilet paper is replaced coming down from the back of the roll, not the front!! (note: If there were toilet paper in Paul’s day, would he have still written that? Hmm)

Breathing down Number Two’s neck is Number Three, again from Paul found in Colossians; “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, lest they be discouraged.” In my simple little mind, this extends to our four wonderful children we got through marriages, and our eight so far (hint, hint) amazing Grandchildren. The world is discouraging enough, our children and grandchildren need to be encouraged; particularly by their parents.

At times, Life being what it is, I find myself falling upon the words of my namesake; James. His timeless encouragement to realize when things happen, it serves to strengthen my faith. That when I lack wisdom, to ask of God, and He will provide wisdom and guidance greatly. I have found, as the years flow past like a river, that I need to ask of Him more and more. It is amazing how much I don’t know!

This is followed by a boot in the rear to be a better friend. None other than Solomon wrote there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I am blessed to say I have several friends who fill that bill. I pray I will become the same to them.

Another on my list is to never forget John’s inspiring words, particularly when it seems at times as if we are being assaulted from all sides. As the rough-hewn fisherman so wonderfully put it; “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

If along the way I lose some weight (after all, my body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”, and the temple has been enlarging somewhat), get more things accomplished (whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord…for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ),  then that is great.

Except, this year; somewhere near the top is: Get at least a second book published this year.

Oh, yeah… and to make sure the Publisher’s Clearinghouse people have my phone number. I know they must have stopped by when I wasn't home last year.