Life Lessons from a Naughty Dog

...and her family...who's always awaiting her next adventure!


naughty begging for brocccoli...

We have always "open fed" our four-legged friends in our house. Until just recently, there really has never been an issue with leaving the "doggie table" full of food all day.  The girls just help themselves whenever they feel they are running low. 

A recent trip to the vet for annual check ups has revealed a new found issue with the mid sections of two of our three canines…It seems this winter two critters in the house have developed "girth".  The Doctor humorously told Naughty she "had enough there to get a start on another dog"!  Upon this latest discovery--and protest from Dr. Koch, we have made some adjustments to how we feed the critters.  The doggie table has been put away, a measuring cup has been added to the dog food bin, and each pup has been assigned their own small bowl and dining situation where they consume their new, portioned meal twice a day. 

You probably have a pretty good idea on how this whole "doggie diet" is going.  Bella has taken no concern to the table being gone.  She is one who really doesn't need to lose any weight.  Lou Lou is not taking the "change" well at all.  It isn't the fact she has been limited on her kibble intake---it’s the fact the dish has moved.  THE DISH HAS MOVED!  Just the sight begins a display of pure panic proceeded by panting, pacing, and drooling.  It is change.  Lou Lou and change are not friends.

Then there's Naughty.  I have started a strict feeding schedule, allowing them their measured amounts at breakfast and supper time.  Breakfast is around 6 a.m.  Yes.  6:00.  As you can guess, Naughty is not an early riser so her food bowl is left untouched.  Upon the other two dogs finishing their breakfast, I stack the bowls on the counter.  I certainly thought a few days without breakfast and Naughty would learn to pull herself from her comfy pillow to eat her vittles.  Not so much.  She continues to come to me whenever she feels the need to nibble throughout the day and barks rudely, slapping me with her big feet.  She prefers the "nibble all day" method.  I am truly attempting tough love here, as I know it is for her own good to get on a schedule and eat smaller amounts.  But I am finding with this new "diet" the moods are a bit "touchy" and the temptations to help ourselves to what the humans aren't guarding are almost unbearable. 

It has been a little while since I have sat and written.  I can say I have been busy.  That reason is legitimate.  We have hit a time of life where my husband is working constantly along with him dealing with some health issues.  Basically, I see him  for doctor appointments…and the occasional chance he gets home early enough to stay awake for dinner.  And the boys are growing and every day is a new adventure for them.  New responsibility.  It's an exciting time to be a mom, watching them "find themselves" and look to where God is leading their lives…in between throwing darts at one another and the sudden boxing matches that may break out in my living room.

 Many "reasons" not to write, but honestly I haven't written due to being in a "place".  I'd like to say this "place" has a sandy beach and warm sunshine…but the truth is, this "place" is right here on Maple Street.  Right here at this table, with a cup of coffee.  Right here with God…(and occasionally my Ma)  And this morning, while in my "place", watching my poor basset hound roll around on the floor, obviously in agony over an empty belly, I am reminded of the purpose of being in my "place". 

Watching the dogs go through this torturous routine of dieting and trying to trim up has reminded me of my own path of weight loss and gain…and loss…and gain….and…  It's actually not a path…it's more like an insane roller coaster I've hung on to for dear life  throughout my time here on this earth. I have ran the gauntlet of diets, exercise routines, no fat, low fat, high protein.  You name it--I have tried it.

My last circle on this roller coaster ride of dieting started about 10 years ago.  The boys were very small and my husband was working out of town. I had been in a "place" talking with God and  came to the conclusion I needed to join a gym and I would lose weight, again.  I asked God to help me be healthy for my boys and husband, and to be used by Him. Soon after beginning a regular work out routine,  I started to see the scales go down. That gave me the motivation to change some eating habits and from there my  results compounded.  Every morning I would thank God for where He had directed me.  I thanked him for the health He had given me.  At the end of a two year period, the scales were down one hundred pounds.  Physically, I felt great!  I had found the confidence I had lost years ago.  I found it easier to play with my kids, to  participate in various ministries and activities.  I would like to say at this point in my life  I finally had my act together.  And--most people around me thought that.

I don't exactly know when it happened or even how.  But somewhere on this journey, I took my eyes off God.  I did.  What had started out as a good thing had created a work out hungry beast that thrived on the accolades of others.  I found myself obsessive over working out.  And if I didn’t get "MY time"--well, it wasn't pretty.  After all, I needed to keep up the "look".  I soon found  working out or meal planning higher on the priority list than my family…than my God.  I had so easily forgotten these verses:

"Do not turn  to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves, I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:4

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."  Jonah 2:8

I didn't realize that’s where I was until I found myself in a spot.  We will just call it that for now.  A really bad SPOT. At the time I was in the SPOT, we lost my husband's parents, we lost our main income through my husband's company downsizing, we lost our home…and…I almost lost my family. 

It is interesting how quickly things of this earth take us captive.  How quickly a person can become "hooked" or obsessive and lose sight of what is important.  How fast something can become an idol.  Now, no where in here am I saying God "let me" lose weight as a "reward" or for "being good"…nor am I saying He pushed me off the cliff that landed me in the "SPOT" because I took my eyes off of Him.  I don't proclaim to know how God works.  He is much bigger than my little brain can even start to grasp.   I look back now and can very clearly see where I jumped right off that deep end all on my own.  He knew I was going to…He IS God, after all. 

So with the "cliff" came the comfort eating...the emotionaly eating...the chaos  of holding on.  And with all that, came the weight.  Another loop on the roller coaster.  And hear I am. 

As for the weight loss journey--I am cautiously walking it once again.  Slowly and CAUTIOUSLY. And even though He knows I could veer off that road again,  God has taken me by the hand to guide me along the way.  That's the awesome thing about God---when I stumble, fall or flat out crash and burn, He never gives up.  He helps me up an brushes me off again.  We are going at this a little differently this time.  It can't be about the latest "shake"… it can't be about running myself into the ground…it can't be about looking good or receiving compliments.  It has to be about being useful for Him--useful in every area of life.  My husband.  My boys. My Ma and Pa.  My nieces.  My "other kids". 

"But, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."  Ephesians 2:4-5

At this time, I would like to give recognition to my  three accountability partners:  Naughty, Lou Lou and Steve the Cat.  (Yes, even poor Steve has been put on the dreaded diet.)   Not one of them can say a word to me,  but their salivating mouths dripping as their pathetic looking eyes stare me down are enough to make me think twice about what I'm shoveling in my pie hole!

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."  Colossians 1:10-12