KM: The thing about dogs is that, given a loving master or mistress, they live life with everything in them.
My apologies to Merry for the pictures showing up in weird places. I need Bonnie Calhoun to write a book about blogging so I can learn how to format my posts better.
And now...ta-da...introducing Flint and Echo.
What's your dog's name, breed, and age?
This is Echo.
Flint is a probably a too-large white Shiba Inu aged 5 years. Echo is a black husky/wolf mix aged 4 1/2. Both were named after characters in Louis L'Amour books - Flint for FLINT and Echo for Echo Sackett in RIDE THE RIVER.
This is Flint.
Where did you get him/her?
I went to get a puppy for my daughter for Valentine's Day. Our 15 year old cat had died the year before and I felt our grieving process was less-blunted and it was time for another animal. I couldn't get another cat just yet and she wanted a puppy, anyway. My husband and I walked around trying to find a puppy. They didn't have any. So we chose a smaller dog. When we went to the room for socializing the dog completely ignored us. So we walked around and chose another. That dog cowered in a corner and wouldn't come to us, either. By then we'd been there for a couple hours. My husband was ready to give up when the worker asked if we saw any other dogs. I mentioned a little white puppy in a cage with a chow. He went and got the dog. Flint (formerly known as Spike) ran around and explored the room, then ran straight to me and stuck his head between my hands. I didn't know it at the time but I was owned that day. We had to leave him behind as he wasn't neutered and were told to come pick him up the next week.
When I arrived to pick him up they were giving him a bath so I chatted with the workers and told them about not finding a puppy. One lady piped up and said they DID have a single puppy - the little runt that they were going to put down because she couldn't walk when brought in...but they decided to feed her and give her a chance. I felt obligated to look but had no intention of bringing home a sickly, stunted puppy who might need medicines the rest of her life and have other issues.
This woman came out with this fat, black puppy who looked just like a teddy bear. She introduced her as Nana. No one could have resisted. I said I'd take her and her name was Echo. Just then the woman came out with Flint and started to turn around to take him back. I said, "Where are you going, that's my dog!" They thought I only wanted one. I took both dogs home that day.
What is the weirdest/sweetest/most annoying thing they've ever done?
Flint for the first YEAR would sit outside the glass shower door as I took a shower and howl at the loss of me, his best buddy. I mean HOWL. He is my protector and if he thinks someone is threatening me he will step between me and them and growl. We had to teach him that it was okay for people to hug me and for my husband to kiss me. He is terrified of sticks, brooms or anything that looks like that (we assume he was struck with one before we got him). But if someone approaches me holding a stick like object, he will be frightened, but he steps between me and person. His most annoying habit is that he loves rolling in poop - especially deer poop. We live in rural country and my parents feed the deer, so they flock through my forest twice a day. Flint knows where the freshest poop can be found. And when I leave home he still howls as if his heart is broken.
Echo adores cheese. She herds people towards the fridge to get it. She comes into my office while I'm writing to give me "lovies" in a blatant attempt to get it. She follows all her commands (the only time she does) to get cheese. She also must inspect everything that comes through the door. All bags and things carried must be nose-inspected before we put it away. She is fascinated when we get down on the floor to do anything. My husband put in a garbage disposal one time and Echo sat on the floor and nose-inspected every tool and part before he could put it in. Her undivided attention has convinced us that if she had opposable thumbs (or maybe not) she could install a garbage disposal with ease. Because of Flint's influence, she also bays when I leave. Her voice is very deep and she has a terrifying bark that has backed down visitors. She also looks like a sleek, black wolf and people tend to be afraid of her. What they don't know is that she is one of the sweetest tempered dogs we've ever had.
How does their companionship enrich your spiritual life?
That unconditional love no matter what the circumstances is a blessing. Both dogs have a sheer joy in life, too. When we moved to the country and Echo found she could stretch her legs and run flat out...the joy on her face was a sight to behold. I was nearly brought to tears to see her in her natural environment - the great outdoors. She has never lost that joy. Every time she runs on our walks she is as excited as the first time she ever ran flat out. I take lessons from her joy.
When I walk with her in the woods I am amazed at all the small miracles. The forest teems with life. For the first time I have been still and know that God is here. I've always had a relationship with God, but when I think back on it I realize I've been lackadaisical about it. Out here in nature I feel God every day.
Flint takes quiet joy in being my companion. He faithfully follows me on walks he never wants to take - he has possible dysplasia and on some days, especially cold ones, walking is hard. I have never had an animal whose very purpose seems to be my friend. I am convinced that Flint would die for me if he felt I was threatened. Flint is afraid of people, especially men. So it would be hard for him to face down an "enemy" but he'd do it. Whether I deserve to live or die isn't an issue with him. His love is so unconditional that it doesn't matter.
I suppose its sacriligious comparing a dog companion to our Savior, but as Jesus died willingly to save me, it is very humbling to know that Flint would do the same. It reminds me of that old saying "I hope I am as good a person as my dog thinks I am." I hope I am living and not wasting the life God has given me and that the Savior died for so I could keep that life.
How does their companionship enrich your everyday (or writing) life?
I have two very faithful companions. They are never far from my side. If I am writing they are in the office sleeping in quiet support. If I read a passage out loud to test its readability they have that happy-to-get-attention look and listen. They never edit or critique my work (this might be a bad thing). If I take a nap they come and stay in the room until I wake up. When I go outside they jump up to go. Flint is often in pain due to the torn cruciate ligament (which requires surgery next week). But his pain doesn't matter to him as much as being with me does. No questions, no balking, just the joy of being my companion excites both dogs.
Is there something about your dog that you'd like to brag about? Or that we just wouldn't believe?
Flint went to Obedience School and was the top dog despite his fear of everyone and everything. I also taught him a trick. If you say "roadkill" he will roll over on his belly and stick his legs in the air. The vet almost died laughing when I made Flint roll over for him. I taught Echo to "give me four!" with her left paw and my Pa taught her to "give me five!" with her right paw. He was in the kitchen one day programming the coffee machine for an early wakeup for a trip and he asked my Mom if 4 am was too early. Echo was across the room and promptly sat down and offered her left paw in the air because she heard him say "Four."