Desperately Seeking Squirrels

Exalting Christ in community and mission

Desperately Seeking Squirrels

When we bought our dogs years ago, we sought and found a breeder in a good faith attempt to not inadvertently support puppy mills. We made a day trip of it and drove a couple of hours to get to her house. And, when we entered her front door we stepped Through the Looking Glass.

The lady that met us as the door was at least 900 years old. Sweet as can be. And totally confuzzled.

She was surrounded by a dozen playpens full of bouncing, churning, yapping swirls. Imagine a cotton candy machine gone rogue, spitting out balls of fluff. There was constant noise and motion.

When we asked for the Bichon Frise we wanted, she bent and picked up what was, she told us, the last she had of that kind, the runt that nobody wanted, and, hey, if we would buy him, she would throw in, for half-price, another puppy which was the result of her failed attempt to mix a Maltese with a Bichon Frise. To be fair, we did not know then that it was a failed attempt.

Looking back I learned at least four lessons that day. One, when a breeder wants to offer you a puppy on a BOGO deal, this does not bode well. Two, ask to see the mother of the litter. Three, always ask to see the mother, so that you will know what you are going to end up with in a few years. And, four, don’t forget to ask to see the mother. Enough said on that.

We soon began to realize that whatever DNA cocktail our breeder had mixed, she had borrowed the recipe from Dr. Jekyll’s lab, because our dogs were . . . well, different from other dogs.

Dr. Hugh Ross (astronomer and founder of Reasons to Believe) teaches that there is a class of soulish creatures, and that dogs are in that class. I have always agreed with Dr. Ross, but our dogs may be the exception that proves the rule. We call one “Lumpy,” because his god is his belly and it shows. And, the other is “Soul-less Sam,” (with a nod to Sam Winchester of “Supernatural”).

Not only are Lumpy and Sam deficient in the soul arena, but they are also not overly blessed with intelligence. In fact, they exhibit a pretty flat learning curve. For instance, one of their favorite activities is squirrel chasing.

This is what happens: The dogs see a squirrel. The dogs run to the squirrel, barking frantically so that the squirrel knows to run away. The squirrel runs up a tree. The dogs run circles around the tree while the squirrel, with back feet gripping the tree trunk, is dangling mere inches from the dogs’ heads. Yes, inches. The dogs never, never, look up. Ever. After a few laps around the tree, the dogs trot back in to the house. The squirrel comes back down into the yard. Rinse. Repeat.

One day, after years of this game, who knows why, maybe he stumbled, but Lumpy happened to look up during the chase and what he saw froze him to the spot. He stood there trembling as his processor loaded the new data into his system. You could almost see the “loading, loading” symbol circling. The new information? “There. Is. An. Up.” An UP!

Most of the time I act like Lumpy and Sam. I am so focused on the horizontal that I miss the vertical. This is natural for those of us living life here “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes ).

But, I long to be super-natural. I long for the intersection of the horizontal and the vertical. I long to live life at that cross-section, where the horizontal things, squirrel-like, draw my attention UP.  Where, C. S. Lewis-like, I chase every sun-beam back to the Son.

Recently my daughter and son-in-love bought a Border Collie puppy and named her Addie. One day, when Addie was a few months old, I saw her quietly sitting out in the yard gracefully tracing with her eyes the passage of migrating geese in the sky. She saw the UP.

It seems that I have adult onset ADHD, the genetic condition that you inherit, most often from your children, but, more and more frequently these days, from culture. It has also been labeled ADOS, as in “Attention Deficit Oh, Squirrel!” Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe I can chase those squirrels up the tree. Up and UP . . .

“Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

@Awara Fernández, 2015 Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety.   Photography by Amanda Fernández


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