Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pastors' Puppy

Many of you know that we have long shared our home with a lovable, increasingly elderly, mostly black, mixed-breed dog named Smokey. We have occasionally discussed adopting another dog, but never made any decision to pursue the idea.

About two months ago, as Ray was driving from home to the church for a meeting one evening, he saw two dogs running loose by the road. In a hurry, he told himself that he would stop on the way home if he saw them. But later, in the dark, he didn’t see them. The next morning we were riding together on the way back to the office, when he suddenly pulled the Jeep over. There they were. With the help of some dog biscuits as bait, we were able to coax one small white puppy to us, but the other, larger dog evaded us.

We took the pup straight to the vet’s office and after a busy morning of bathing, deworming, shots, and flea treatment, she was ready to go home and meet Smokey! It took us a few days to settle on a name, but SuzyQ had entered our lives!

She seemed very smart, learning quickly to sit for a treat, enjoying a good cuddle, and sleeping very soundly, but she didn’t learn to answer to her name or come when we called her. After a couple of weeks, we realized that is because she can’t hear us. Now that the vet has checked her again, we are certain that she is indeed deaf.

So now she is training us and sometimes trying our patience, as the usual commands like “Come” and “No” have ABSOLUTELY no effect. Instead we are learning sign language. Fluttering fingers get her attention, a pointed index finger means sit, shaking your finger at her means no, and a thumbs up is “good girl!” The challenge is often in getting her attention, so that she will see the signals. For now, large arm gestures usually work during daylight, and Ray is teaching her to follow the beam of a flashlight so that we can call her after dark.

Needless to say, the joys and frustrations of housebreaking a puppy are keeping us busy. Now about 20 pounds and 18 weeks old, the vet told us to expect that she will double in size. That will make her about the same size as Smokey when she is full grown, so we are busy trying to teach her good habits while she is small!

We have to remind ourselves that -unlike the familiar saying - she isn't ignoring us, she really is deaf! One thing is for certain: SuzyQ has certainly provided a distraction for us from the busyness of ministry.

No comments: