March 30, 2020

Melissa got her dog Bella at Valentine’s thirteen years ago.  She arrived as an eight-week-old pup who was all legs with a ball of fur on top.  At the time Melissa and her parents had four cats who also lived with them, so Bella took on many of the characteristics of the cats, especially sleeping a lot.  That’s when Bella became the “Cat Dog.”  When Melissa moved to Wichita Bella was annoyed by the squirrels who ran in her yard and would perch in the trees and chatter at her.    If there were any squirrels in our back yard I’d yell, “Squirrel Dog!” and Bella would take off after them.

After we moved to the camp Bella became much more attached to me.  I was home and checked up on her during the day.  Bella had been a registered therapy dog in Arkansas (elementary children read to her in the library), so I got her a little blue vest and made her a little badge with her name and information on it.  Bella became the “Camp Dog” and would get all excited when I took her to work with me.  She’d mostly sleep but she was also quick to patrol the lobby if someone came to visit.  One of Bella’s favorite things to do at camp was to eat cheese.  She got good at catching any cheese I threw to her.  Since I love cheese, catching cheese became one of her favorite games.  I’d have her go across the kitchen and throw the cheese to her, and she rarely missed.  Bella became affectionately known as the “Cheese Dog.”

Since we moved back to Arkansas Bella has had some health issues.  Her arthritis has increased, and it is hard for her to walk any distance.  Bella also varies in and out of stomach and pancreas problems.  I’ve quit feeding her cheese and she is on a strict low-fat diet.  Bella isn’t happy about her new diet.  She knows if she goes outside, she will get a piece of chicken jerky so even though it’s hard to walk she goes out four or five times a day.  Bella also dreams of the good ol’ days when she would catch cheese.  Every time I sit on the sofa with a piece of cheese Bella comes and watches me eat.  She doesn’t whine, just watches with that forlorn look on her face.  Occasionally it works.

THOUGHTS: We face many transitions in life.  Just like Bella I have been called an archaeologist, historian, educator, pastor, and director.  Each transition brings new possibilities.  Each bring both opportunity and tribulation.  One trait that sets humans apart from other species is our willingness to adapt.  While others adapt to changing conditions, humans change conditions in order to adapt.  During our current crisis we are being forced to adapt.  We are finding new ways to continue as social beings even while social distancing.   Let’s remember what we did after this is over, and make it work.




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