Facing your fears

By Eliza Boulware

I am scared, or should I say AFRAID of dogs. Any size, any type – yes, even the tea cup dogs. I know it’s bad and it is sometimes embarrassing because it seems like everyone has a dog. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and they told me it was aggressive which mean it grows fast, so I was faced with a greater fear. The fear of cancer and not sure if I would live through it.

Before I started treatment, I was told that they would bring therapy dogs around and I began to panic. If a dog came near me, I would run, jump, break things, as I screamed. My heart would race and it felt like I stopped breathing.  Now I am trying to figure if I am sitting there plugged up to all these machines, what if I pulled the needle out? I began to pray and made my mind up that if I could face the fear of cancer, I will face my fear of dogs at the same time. My journey started and I became the main attraction.  Everybody would walk up to see how I would respond. At first, I could not relax when the dog came in. The lady had to keep the dog from even touching me. As I continued treatment, I kept dogworking on overcoming my fear. As you can see in the picture, with trusting God to face my fears, I was able to allow the dog to sit beside me and even rub the dog. I can’t express how major that was.

Lesson learned that when we trust God, we can face any fear and overcome them. Life sometimes has us to face some difficult situations and we become fearful of the unknown. I still don’t know why I am afraid of dogs but that fear could hinder me from doing what God has for me to do or can keep me from being in the right place to receive my blessing. Face your fear so that you can overcome what maybe hindering you on your journey. With God all things are possible. Face your fear!

In Memory Of My Father, Richard Baldauf

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

On Sunday, December 11, my father, Richard Baldauf, lost his brave struggle with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). I am feeling so many emotions, but instead of focusing on me, I want to share an amazing story of God’s grace that I experienced firsthand

Mary Pat Baldauf

Five years ago, my father was diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), a form of dementia that shares characteristics with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  From day one, I felt helpless because Dad could no longer enjoy the many things we used to do together like talk politics, do puzzles or work around the house. Up until this summer, I felt bad that I couldn’t do more for him, but that all changed when I found Gizmo, a rescue Pomeranian pup who changed Dad’s last six months in a way that I couldn’t.

Dad never really had indoor pets, but for years had a loving Chow mix named Lucy. As Dad’s illness progressed, Lucy came in during the day to keep Dad company. Unfortunately, Lucy was diagnosed with cancer in November of last year and died at home the following February. My mother, sister and I gave Dad some time to grieve, but we were anxious to get Dad a new canine companion, perhaps even a little lap dog. We made several attempts and even brought one home for a trial visit, but Dad was adamant that he didn’t want another dog.

As Dad’s somewhat rebellious daughter, I wasn’t going to take Dad’s refusals lying down. My sister and I kept our eyes open and even checked local rescue websites, but we hadn’t been able to find the right dog. Then one fateful Saturday, I was shopping at Harbison and stopped by PetsMart on a whim. There were several rescue groups on site, but I only saw puppies and larger dogs. I sighed in disappointment and decided to try again later.

On my way out, I spotted one last rescue group, Fairfield County Animal Adoption Center. At first glance, I saw no small dogs, but a volunteer told me they did have a rescue Pomeranian named Gizmo, but he was outside being walked. As we waited for his return, she told me that Gizmo’s first home was with a wheelchair bound man and that the dog would sit in his lap all day. That was my first tinge of hope. Dad used a walker, and any dog who rode in a wheelchair probably wouldn’t mind a walker. She went on to explain that when Gizmo’s owner passed away, the dog went to an abusive home where he was beaten with canes and brooms and generally neglected.

At that time, in walked a volunteer with a precious little bundle of fur that was Gizmo. I may’ve been on the fence before, but I was immediately determined to adopt Gizmo for Dad. I tried to call my sister to get a second opinion, but couldn’t reach her; I just took a giant leap of faith and adopted Gizmo. Janice screened me well and asked a lot of questions, but thankfully was as convinced as I that this was meant to be.

Fast forward to Mom and Dad’s house, where I walked in with Gizmo.  Dad had no more made that funny face and started to say no when Gizmo jumped in his lap; the rest is history. Within the hour, he was telling us, “This is my dog!” And indeed, Gizmo was Dad’s dog. He took to Dad immediately, and in the coming days, their bond grew exponentially. Quite simply, Gizmo gave Dad unconditional love and friendship that truly enhanced his quality of life in his final days.

These are just a few of the examples of how amazing Gizmo was for my dad:

  • Gizmo stayed by Dad’s side practically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the day, he sat on Dad’s lap in the easy chair in the living room, and at night, slept right beside him.

    My dad with his faithful companion, Gizmo

  • Gizmo made it easier for Dad to have guests.  With Gizmo, he always had something to talk about.  He could easily make conversation about the dog, while remembering current events or previous visits were more difficult for him.
  • In addition to the love he provided, Gizmo also became Dad’s smallest care giver.  On many occasions, Gizmo sounded the alert that help was needed. Once, when Dad was struggling to get out of the bed while Mom was making breakfast, Gizmo ran into the kitchen and barked until Mom figured out what he was trying to tell her.
  • Gizmo was loyal to Dad to the end. Gizmo camped out on Dad’s bed, and even when Dad could no longer speak, he nearly always had a hand on Gizmo. Even after Dad passed, we couldn’t pry Gizmo from Dad’s side, so we let him stay and say his goodbyes.

These days, Gizmo is still supporting Dad – this time by pouring out his love on my mother. He’s already sleeping with her, and with Gizmo there, Mom is never alone. For my sister and I, visiting Gizmo is like having a little of Dad right there with us.

In the opening, I mistakenly suggested that I found Gizmo. That’s not quite right. I was just God’s conduit, a way for Him to deliver the gift of Gizmo to my father. There are a lot of things I don’t understand about God, but this I know for sure: God bundled up his grace and love in that sweet, furry package especially for Dad.  And for that, I am most thankful.

For the Love of Buddy – Part 2

By: Shannon Shull

So now that I hopefully have your heart strings in a bit of a tether after my blog entry, “For the Love of Buddy – Part 1”, I’d love to put your heart at ease… My fellow animal lovers and/or sympathetic, supportive blog readers, take note! My little Buddy is A-Ok! After a long, grueling healing process – the dog that could’ve easily been left for doggie heaven is now alive, well and most importantly – healed and immensely loved. This little bugger has taught my little family many a lesson, whether it be to hang in there – the excruciating, healing wait is worth the while, or to lighten up and just enjoy the little things in life. Our little Buddy reminds us to take light, to chill out and enjoy life.

See the proof in my video that our once broken pup is now our “Bionic Buddy” –

“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Butler

Isn’t that a great quote? If only we could be reminded of that principle more often and actually apply that principle! Those little moments when you run around the house playing fetch, tag and wrestling with a rascal dog are moments in which I’ve learned need to be cherished, because they remind me to take a “daggome” breathe and not take life too seriously. I should really take heed of my own advice here, because I have to admit – especially lately – I have not been very good at taking a moment to chill and enjoy life!  But, you know those folks who take the time to play with or love on an animal and they seem to enjoy the heck out of it? Ever asked them if it was worth the effort? Worth their time? Probably not, because you were possibly too caught up enjoying watching them, watching a human and a pet enjoy the little things in life. Nothing wrong with that – as I’ve said before, if we let them, these little rascals can bring us a whole load of happiness. And this is coming from a human that’s not your average crazed animal lover. But I tell ya what, after experiencing having my own pet be crushed by a car and then saved by the grace of love…well, a certain appreciation happens that’s just well…unavoidable.

There’s a saying that has always rung true in my experience in life. “The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” ~ Anonymous. It isn’t the tell-all of a person’s inner being by any means, but you sure can get an idea of a person by how they treat animals.

It seems I constantly run into folks who are mentioning their dear pets and sharing tales of either their silliness, aggravation or sweet stories of friendship and such.  Pets are a big part of a whole lot of people’s lives. Do any of you happen to have a touching story of pet triumph? A pet that saved yours or someone’s life in some way? A simple story of an animal that made ya smile? I’m eager to hear your special pet tales – come on, do share!

Stay tuned for my next blog that will demonstrate the crazy way my dog now sleeps after having been smacked by a car. You will not want to miss the pictures I will be sharing! And after my next blog, I promise to lay off the pet talk and get back to other super cool, passionate things. Seriously, I promise.