Archive | November 2014

Abbey Still Has More to Say

Abbey-Marian

Abbey and me collaborating on blog posts

In my imagination, Abbey has been talking to me over the last couple weeks. Her spirit is still very much alive. “Mom,” she said, “I was really sad to leave you, and I still think about you a lot. But I’ve also been really busy exploring heaven. You can’t imagine all the smells there are up here. One of my first days here I picked up a familiar scent and followed the trail for a few minutes, and you’ll never guess who it led me to – cousin Holly! We reminisced for a while about the good old days in Uncle Dan’s workshop, and then she offered to take me around to meet lots of our relatives – both canine and human. Every day in heaven is a new adventure!”

It was so good to hear Abbey talking to me again, even if it was just in my imagination. One thing Abbey said to me was, “Our imaginations are among the best gifts God ever gave us.”

Abbey also told me, “Mom, you need to get another dog as soon as you can. Your family is incomplete without one. I’ll help you find the next dog, one who will be the perfect fit for you and Mim and everyone you take care of. What you need to do is write a HELP WANTED ad in your blog to let your friends know that you are looking for another canine companion and caregiver – someone a lot like me. Then you also need to do an Internet search for ‘dog adoption.’ Your old dog Megabyte, who I met up here last week, told me all about how search engines work. She said if you enter the search criteria correctly, Megabyte and I can arrange to have the right dog come up near the top of your search results. Then you just need to follow up with the contact info to meet the perfect dog for you.”

As you know, I followed Abbey’s advice. Last week I blogged the HELP WANTED ad. I also did an Internet search to try to find the right dog. IT WORKED!!! The perfect dog came to our attention almost right away. I followed up with the contact info for ARVSS (Animal Rescue and Vet Support Services), learned more details about her, filled out an online application, and interviewed her and her foster mom. As of Sunday afternoon, she has joined our family.

Yesterday, Abbey entered my imagination again and said, “Mom, you have no idea how happy Megabyte, Maia, and I are that you brought another dog into our family. We had a party last night to celebrate our new sibling. And we’re so proud of you that you followed our advice and found the dog we sent your way.”

Floey adoption photo

Floey – named after Florence Nightingale.

So who is our new companion and caregiver? We’ve renamed her “Floey” – short for Florence Nightingale, one of the most famous caregivers of all time. She came with a rather strange name for a dog, “Pony.” We figured that “Floey” sounds enough like “Pony” that she’ll adjust to her new name quickly. And, in fact, she already has. I called her by her new name a few minutes ago, and she came right over to me. She’s lying on the floor beside me now as I’m writing this blog post.

“Hey, Floey, do you want to help me write my blog post today?”

“Sure, Mom. What do you want me to do?”

“I want to let people know all about you. What should we tell them?”

“That’s easy. I’m 10 months old, nearly full-grown. I weigh 28 pounds. I never knew my parents, but I think I’m a distinctive mix of several breeds including Australian Shepherd or border collie, and whippet. I’m quite petite in my features, except I have long, lean legs which make me a very good runner.”

Floey playing with cousin Lucy in Uncle Dan's carpentry shop.

Floey playing with cousin Lucy in Uncle Dan’s carpentry shop.

“Why did you want to join our family, Floey? You know you’ll have to be a working dog if you live with us – you’ll have to be a loving companion and caregiver around the clock.”

Floey meeting Anna.

Floey meeting Anna.

“I think I was born to love and be loved. I think we all were, but not everyone realizes it. When I first walked into your house and saw Anna sitting at the kitchen counter, I knew I had to run up to her and kiss her. She laughed and laughed and petted me. We were both so happy. Then when I sniffed around,  exploring the house, I saw Carolyn sitting in her room. I ran up to greet her, and she reached out her arms to welcome me. She told me how beautiful I am. I immediately fell in love with both Anna and Carolyn. That was after I’d already fallen in love with Mim and you. Can you imagine what that feels like to fall in love with four new people, all in one afternoon? It’s wonderful!”

“Hearing you talk, Floey, I want to say you are the personification of love, but I know that’s not quite the right word. Dogification, maybe? Anyway, I’m truly thankful that you have joined our family.”

“And, I’m thankful that God brought us all together,” responded Floey.

This is the perfect week for Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for, including the dogs in our lives and their uninhibited and unlimited ability to love.

Floey resting on my legs at the end of her adoption day.

Floey and me putting our feet up at the end of our first day together.

 

HELP WANTED: Canine Companion and Caregiver

We took a vote – Mim and me and our three 93-year-olds. We want to get another dog as soon as we can. We don’t want to wait till spring, which was our original plan.

Every time Anna comes home from one of her outside activities, she says, “I miss Abbey so much.” When we asked her if she would like us to get another dog, her face broke into a huge smile. “Really?” she asked.

Ann - Abbey 3

Abbey wishing Anna Happy Birthday a couple years ago.

Carolyn told us, “You know I love dogs. As soon as we can get one is fine with me.” Martha concurred, “I like having a dog around.”

We all miss Abbey. She was a wonderful companion and caregiver – a truly amazing manifestation of God’s love. Now that she is no longer with us, except in our still vivid memories, we all want to find another dog to live with us and be our loving companion.

Abbey enjoying hours of non-stop petting from Edith.

 

I’ve started spreading the word and searching the Internet to find our next canine companion and caregiver. Here’s what we’re looking (and praying) for:

HELP WANTED: Canine Companion and Caregiver

Incredible life-long position for the right candidate. Applicant must be committed to the belief that dogs were created to be special instruments of God’s love to all species on earth.

Meg and Marie - adj

Marie scratching Megabyte’s ear.

Job Description. Applicant will become a devoted family member of the Country Comforts Assisted Living Family. Family members include Mim and Marian, a few people who are elderly and may be somewhat frail, several other human caregivers, and extended family members of all the above. Must interact in a friendly manner with everyone, including guests. Specific tasks will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Sit still for hours beside an elderly resident while she pets you.
  • Warmly greet each resident whenever she enters the room you’re in.
  • Occasionally hop onto the bed of a hospice resident to cuddle if she can no longer get up.
  • Take the other caregivers on long walks daily to keep them in good physical condition.
  • Do the pre-wash on dishes before they are loaded into the dishwasher.
  • Clean up any food that falls on the floor.
  • Warmly greet all guests at the door.
Patti-Abbey in bed

Abbey comforting Patti just a couple days before she passed away.

Required Skills and Personal Traits. On-the-job training will be provided for specific duties, but general skills that are required of this position include:

  • A calm demeanor. Some enthusiasm, exhibited by a frequently wagging tail, is desired, but hyperactive jumping and running is unacceptable.
  • A soft voice. Loud, frequent barking is unacceptable. An occasional loud bark to alert us to matters of concern is desirable.
  • Ideal candidate will be between 1 and 4 years of age and will weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. Mixed breeds are preferred, but not required.
Maia and Selma in wheelchair

Maia cleaning off Selma’s clothing protector after a good meal.

Compensation. Food, shelter, health care, and unlimited love and companionship forever.

To Apply. Respond to this blog post, or send a personal email to MarianKorth@gmail.com.

Selma-Meg-Mim cropped

Megabyte and Mim walking Selma (Mim’s mother).

 

The Dogs in My Life

Family dogs out for a ride in my brother's car

Family dogs out for a ride in my brother’s car.

God so loved the world that she gave us dogs.

The first dog in my life was Teddy. He was a big brown and white collie mix that lived in the barn. He only came into the house occasionally to warm up, when it was really cold outside. My dad had trained him to be a faithful working dog. When it was time for the cows to come back to the barn for evening milking, my dad would yell as loud as he could, “Come, boss,” hoping that the cows would hear him and come home to the barn. Teddy would take that as his cue to run to the pasture or down the lane to the woods to get them. He would find them, gather them together by running around them and barking, and would herd them to the barn.

I couldn't find any of my own pictures of Teddy, but this what I remember him looking like.

I couldn’t find any of my own pictures of Teddy, but this what I remember him looking like.

I was a little afraid of Teddy. I liked to pet him and say, “Nice, Teddy,” but I never dared to give him a really big hug or play with him. He was a very big dog, and I was a very little girl. He died of old age when I was about 5.

Tippy

Tippy

Our next dog was Tippy, a mostly black collie mix puppy with white tips on his paws and tail. My dad had hopes of training him to be another cow dog, but my brother Danny and I had other ideas. We trained him to be a playmate. Although he still had to sleep in the barn, Tippy was at our side whenever Danny and I were outside. Unfortunately, after a couple years he was killed by a car speeding down our country road.

Rinny - c1955

Rinny

The next dog in our lives was Rinny, named after RinTinTin, the german shepherd on TV. Rinny didn’t look like RinTinTin – Rinny was another black and white collie mix. My dad still had hopes of training another cow dog, but Danny and I adopted him as our next playmate, and Rinny never paid much attention to my dad.

While Rinny was still in our lives, a stray german shepherd mix wandered onto the farm and decided to stay a while. I named him Bullet, after my other TV dog hero. Bullet became my dog and Rinny was Danny’s. While we were negotiating that deal, our mom told us about when she sold her dog Mollie for $2 to her brother Helmer. From a practical standpoint, Mollie was still the family dog, and Mom was $2 richer.

Bullet with me and my newest Kitten Useless.

Bullet with me and my kitten Useless.

After a couple years, Rinny suffered the same fate as Tippy. Left alone, Bullet must have been bored when Danny and I were away at school all day, and he wandered off to find another home that needed his love.

Danny and Mollie 2

Danny and Mollie

Our succession of dogs continued with our own Mollie, a brown collie mix, and Tammy, our first little dog, probably a beagle-terrier mix. By that time my dad was resigned to the fact that any dogs coming into our household would become playmates, not working dogs. That meant it was no longer necessary to get a dog with herding instincts.

Tammy

Tammy

As an adult, I lived without a dog in my life until I reached my early 40s. Mim had not grown up with dogs, so she didn’t know how much love they could bring into your life. I finally convinced her I needed a dog when she got a job working nights for the Night Ministry – I didn’t want to be home alone at night in Chicago without a dog. We made a visit to the Anti-Cruelty Society in downtown Chicago, and walked out with a 10-week old blonde collie-golden retriever mix puppy. I named her Megabyte. (I was a computer consultant at the time.) Megabyte was the perfect dog to turn Mim into a dog lover. I knew she was converted when she told me about the homeless man who told her one night that DOG was GOD, just spelled backwards.

Megabyte as puppy

Megabyte

Meg was a very affectionate and social dog. She loved to go for walks in the park and loved to play with all the dogs in the neighborhood. We even arranged play dates with Charlee, the puppy down the block who was about the same age. When Mim and I decided to move to Cambridge, we were concerned that Meg might be lonely without all her canine friends, so we made another trip to the Anti-Cruelty Society to adopt a sister for her. We were drawn to a 3-month-old black border collie-spaniel mix. Mim named her Maia. From day one, Maia tried to be the boss, but the two dogs quickly worked out their own rules for sharing the leadership role.

Megabyte and Maia with Marian in Chicago

Megabyte and Maia with Marian in Chicago

Both Meg and Maia lived well into their teens (their 90s in dog years).

Then came Abbey. You already know a lot about Abbey and all the love she has shared with us and the people who have lived with us. She’s been the perfect caregiver, with plenty of love, gentleness, kindness, and wisdom to share with everyone who has lived in our home.

Abbey head-on colorYesterday, Abbey went to meet all the rest of the dogs in our family – Teddy, Tippy, Rinny, Bullet, Mollie, Tammy, Megabyte, and Maia – plus many of her cousin dogs and people friends. For the last couple years Abbey has had a slow-growing mass in her brain that has been affecting her ability to walk. It finally got too much for her, and God invited her to come home to heaven. She had fulfilled her purpose on earth very well – teaching all of us more about God’s love than we ever could have imagined without knowing her.

Marian Korth Family Portrait - bronze 2

God loved us so much that she gave us Abbey for 8 years
to teach us more about God’s love.

De-Adult Me, Please

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remake me as an awe-fascinated primitive,
de-adult me so as to wonder like a child …
[from Edward Hays, A BOOK OF WONDERS, p. 336]

The picture above is my great niece, Katie. I snapped the picture at our family Christmas celebration in 2001. Katie is in high school now. I hope she keeps her sense of awe and wonder forever.

snow on bushesIt snowed last week for the first time this season. And for the first time in my life, I wasn’t delighted by it. Well, maybe for a split second I noticed the beauty of the fluffy white blanket on the bushes outside my bedroom window. But that tiny moment of delight was quickly replaced with feelings of, “Oh no, not already!”

For the last forty years or so I’ve been adult enough to not appreciate snow – at least not publicly. But privately, I’ve always thought snow is beautiful – whether it’s coming to earth in giant snowflakes or it’s silently covering everything outside with a pure white blanket of sparkly fluff. The first snowfall of the season has always given me childlike delight.

Always. Until this year. What happened? Do I need a new coat? A new pair of boots? New tires on my car? Or, do I need to bring out my Christmas music to get me in the mood?

I really don’t know what’s wrong this year. Have I finally become an adult completely? If so, I think I want to pray to become “de-adulted” as Edward Hays suggests.

After all, JOY is my special word for 2014. If I’ve become too much of an adult to experience JOY at the season’s first snowfall, I really need some serious “de-adulting.”

Megabyte was the first dog Mim and I adopted. She always loved to play in the snow. For Meg, every day was filled with many, many moments of joy.