An Easter Memory

I love Spring…such a welcome change after a long, harsh winter…and Easter is definitely a favorite holiday. A dog lover friend asked me to share this s Easter memory again:

Easter is always special to me, but last year is especially memorable. I had promised to bake a cake for the church’s annual pre-Easter bake sale, but with all the activities going on, I forgot until the last minute. Thankfully I managed to find an angel food cake mix, which I quickly baked. I set the cake on the table to cool while I finished a few chores, and didn’t notice that Scout, our newly acquired puppy, had creatively managed to plant a paw print right in the middle of the cake. Scout had already been in more trouble than any dog I had ever met. My best friend insisted that he suffered from a serious case of Attention Deficit Disease, but I excused him as just going through the “normal puppy phase.”

Frantically I looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake, and found it in the bathroom—an almost empty roll of toilet paper. I plunked it in the middle and covered it with icing. The finished product looked like a real work of art, if I do say so myself. Before I left the house to drop the cake off at the church and head for work, I woke my daughter and gave her money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened, buy the cake and bring it home. However, when Amanda arrived at the sale, and discovered that the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold, she grabbed her cell phone to call me. You can only imagine how difficult it was to concentrate at work, so it was later than usual by the time I checked out. At home, a total mess greeted me. Scout had somehow gotten the lid off the waste basket, and trash was scattered throughout the house. Oblivious of the havoc he had created, he quietly lay on the living room floor, chewing on one of my new Easter shoes.

I had already RSVP’d that I would be attending the Women’s Easter Luncheon the next day, so I promised myself that I would try to not think about the cake and would go and enjoy myself. I left a very unhappy pooch in his seldom-used crate with a toy and treat and headed to the church. The meal was elegant, but I almost fell off my chair when our table hostess presented my toilet paper cake for dessert. Our minister’s wife, sitting next to me, murmured, “What a beautiful cake”… She looked at our hostess . “I didn’t know you were such a gifted baker. It is almost too perfect to cut into.”

Alice looked embarrassed and placed her cutting knife on the table. “Guess I better ‘fess up. I didn’t bake it. It was such a busy week, I just bought it at the bake sale. I am sure it will taste better than any cake I would make.”

As she picked up the knife, I realized that it was ‘now or never.’ All eyes focused on me, as I stuttered and stammered the entire story. “Well,” said Alice, pulling out the sticky toilet paper roll . “I say we try it and see if it is as good as it looks.” It was good…nobody seemed to care that Scout had touched it….and everyone agreed that it was a perfect ending to a perfect lunch.

As I recall that day, I am thankful that I have such understanding friends, and am thankful that Scout has outgrown most of his bad habits. Most of all, I am thankful for the most precious Easter gift of all, the resurrection of Jesus. Hopefully my story has made you smile, and may the glory and promise of this day bring you joy and happiness. Alleluia. Have a blessed Easter.

 

There is No Charge for Love

Easter is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Western world, a special time of love and joy. For Christians, Easter brings the good news that Christ’s resurrection fulfilled the promises of both the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during His earthly life, and gives definitive proof of His divine authority. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Christ’s resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history, and it offers definitive proof of His divine authority, and is a story of unconditional love, freely given.

Not all Easter celebrations focus on the resurrection. Passover is also a holiday about renewal and liberation, and in the minds of many children, the Easter Bunny is second only to Santa Claus. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending over seventeen BILLION dollars for apparel, food, decorations, and especially candy, so we take this opportunity to share basic facts regarding chocolate Easter eggs:

  • Diet tip: Eat an Easter egg before each meal….it will take the edge off your appetite, and that way you will eat less.
  • If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you are eating it too slowly.
  • If calories are an issue, store them on the top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
  • Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

No matter how you celebrate, this time of year is a reminder that life is a constant process of love, hope and renewal, especially needed in these turbulent, uncertain times. “No Charge for Love” is a perfect Easter story, familiar to some of you, but worth repeating.

Good Samaritan Oliver Townsend had rescued a neglected mother dog and her litter of pups, and determined to find a good home for all of the pups. He posted a sign advertising, “Pups for sale to forever homes,” but weeks passed and no good prospects appeared. Late on Easter Sunday, he was outside trimming some bushes when he realized that he was being watched by a young boy. “Sir,” the boy said, “I would like to buy one of your puppies. My mom says it’s okay, and I have a little money from my Easter basket.” He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a couple crumpled bills and some change, and held them out. “Could I take a look at them?” Mr. Townsend shook his head, thinking that this would not be the right match. “You know, son, the mother of these pups was in bad shape, and I have spent a lot of money nursing her back to health, and caring for her babies.”

The boy looked directly into the man’s face. “I would take really good care of the pup, and if I don’t have enough money, maybe I could mow your lawn or something. Couldn’t I just take a look at them?”

The man put down his clippers, and let out a whistle, “Here, Dolly,” he called. From the front porch ran Dolly, followed by three little balls of fur. As the dogs came closer, the boy’s eyes sparkled with delight. Suddenly he noticed something else was stirring on the porch. Slowly, another, noticeably smaller pup, appeared, and in a somewhat awkward way, tried to catch up with his siblings.

“I want that one,” the boy said. “I will work for you until he is paid for.” Townsend knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. I love him dearly, but he will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

The boy repeated softly, “I want that one.” He reached down and pulled up one leg of his jeans, revealing a brace running down both sides of his leg, attaching itself to a specially made shoe. “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

Oliver carefully picked up the little pup, and gently placed him in the boy’s arms. “How much?” asked the youngster. With tears in his eyes, the man answered, “No charge – there is no charge for love.”

May your life be filled with hope, joy, and gentle, wise, wonderful, kind love, today, and all year long.

 

 

An Easter Lesson

Easter is a special, holy day, and this story by Chris…no last name given. And I can’t even verify its accuracy…. but it illustrates how sometimes a simple experience teaches us lessons we need to know:

I want to tell you about an Easter event that changed my life many years ago. It reminds me that things are not always what they seem and that angels come in many packages. As our custom, my wife and I donned our new Easter finery and went to Sunrise Service, an uplifting celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Our new young minster read Scriptures on the Resurrection and a passage on faith, hope and love, with the emphasis on love. He spoke of the Lord’s sacrificial love to mankind, and then posed a direct question: “What do YOU do in appreciation of that love?” I felt he was speaking directly to me as he paraphrased William Penn’s admonition, “You will pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that you can do, or any kindness or love that you can show, do it NOW… Don’t defer or neglect it…You may not pass this way again.”

Trying to put the message out of my mind, I suggested to my wife that we stop on our way home at a local convenience store to get coffee. Carefully juggling the coffees (and a couple rolls), I got back into our car, but before I started it, we both noticed a man standing in front of the building. His clothes were tattered and worn. In fact he was tattered and worn and it appeared that he had gone in and gotten himself something warm to drink, since it was a chilly morning. My wife remarked that he probably didn’t have enough money to get anything to eat…probably true, but the world was filled with unfortunate people, probably primarily because of their lack of motivation.

The next thing I noticed was a dog hobbling up to the front of the building. Being a dog lover, I noticed that she was terribly thin… You could tell that she had been feeding puppies, and again my wife remarked that she was really undernourished, and how sad the situation was, that if she didn’t eat something soon, she and her puppies probably would not make it.

We just sat there and looked at her. We noticed that people walked around her, almost as if she was not even there. . We felt bad, but rationalized that the world was filled with needy dogs. We did nothing.

But someone did. The homeless man, whom we thought did not buy himself anything to eat, went back into the store. He came out with a hot dog, knelt down by the dog, and offered her the food. An elderly gentleman, watching from the doorway, spoke directly to the fellow. “It looks to me like both you and that dog need more than a hot dog. Let’s you and me go back into the store and while we eat a good meal, I will call someone who can help that poor mother.”

Suddenly the true meaning of Easter was made real to me….….it had taken a homeless man , a starving dog, and a compassionate stranger, to teach me a lesson in faith, hope, and love that has remained with me as I pass through this world but once.

We at the TLC hope all those, both two legged and four legged, had a very Happy Easter.

Happy Easter – An Easter Memory

I love Spring…such a welcome change after a long, harsh winter…and Easter is definitely a favorite holiday.  Dog lover/friend Sara shares this Easter memory:

Easter is always special to me, but last year is especially memorable. I had promised to bake a cake for the church’s annual pre-Easter bake sale, but with all the activities going on, I forgot until the last minute. Thankfully I managed to find an angel food cake mix, which I quickly baked. I set the cake on the table to cool while I finished a few chores, and didn’t notice that Scout, our newly acquired puppy, had creatively managed to plant a paw print right in the middle of the cake. Scout had already been in more trouble than any dog I had ever met. My best friend insisted that he suffered from a serious case of Attention Deficit Disease, but I excused him as just going through the “normal puppy phase.”

Frantically I looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake, and found it in the bathroom—an almost empty roll of toilet paper. I plunked it in the middle and covered it with icing. The finished product looked like a real work of art, if I do say so myself. Before I left the house to drop the cake off at the church and head for work, I woke my daughter and gave her money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened, buy the cake and bring it home. However, when Amanda arrived at the sale, and discovered that the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold, she grabbed her cell phone to call me. You can only imagine how difficult it was to concentrate at work, so it was later than usual by the time I checked out. At home, a total mess greeted me. Scout had somehow gotten the lid off the waste basket, and trash was scattered throughout the house.  Oblivious of the havoc he had created, he quietly lay on the living room floor, chewing on one of my new Easter shoes.

I had already RSVP’d that I would be attending the Women’s Easter Luncheon the next day, so I promised myself that I would try to not think about the cake and would go and enjoy myself.  I left a very unhappy pooch in his seldom-used crate with a toy and treat and headed to the church. The meal was elegant, but I almost fell off my chair when our table hostess presented my toilet paper cake for dessert. Our minister’s wife, sitting next to me, murmured, “What a beautiful cake”… She looked at our hostess. “I didn’t know you were such a gifted baker. It is almost too perfect to cut into.”

Alice looked embarrassed and placed her cutting knife on the table. “Guess I better ‘fess up.  I didn’t bake it. It was such a busy week; I just bought it at the bake sale. I am sure it will taste better than any cake I would make.”

As she picked up the knife, I realized that it was ‘now or never.’   All eyes focused on me, as I stuttered and stammered the entire story.  “Well,” said Alice, pulling out the sticky toilet paper roll. “I say we try it and see if it is as good as it looks.”  It was good…nobody seemed to care that Scout had touched it….and everyone agreed that it was a perfect ending to a perfect lunch.

As I recall that day, I am thankful that I have such understanding friends, and am thankful that Scout has outgrown most of his bad habits. Most of all, I am thankful for the most precious Easter gift of all, the resurrection of Jesus.  Hopefully my story has made you smile, and may the glory and promise of this day bring you joy and happiness.  Alleluia. Have a blessed Easter.

 

 

Live Rabbits are not Easter Toys

It’s Easter time, and what would make a more perfect gift than an adorable floppy eared bunny? Baby rabbits and soft baby chicks are soooo adorable, that they are hard to resist.  After all, you think, wouldn’t this be a perfect, low-maintenance “starter pet” for a small child? THINK AGAIN!  These animals are not well suited for children, and it’s a sad fact that most of the ones that are purchased as impulse pets will not live to see their first birthday, because as soon as they grow out of the cute baby stage, they are given away, banished to lonely lives in outdoor hutches, or just released outside, a sure death sentence.

Most children want a companion that they can hold, carry and cuddle, and rabbits are not cuddly.  They are ground-loving, prey creatures that actually are  physically fragile, and require specialized veterinary care. Children are naturally exuberant, and loving, but “loving” to a small child usually means holding, hugging, and carrying an animal around in whatever fashion their small hands can manage…exactly the kinds of things that make most rabbits feel insecure and frightened.  Handled in this way, they will often get fidgety and start to scratch or bite simply out of fear. The rabbits that do survive the first few months , quickly reach maturity, and when they are no longer tiny and “cute,” the kids usually lose interest, and the rabbit, who has no voice to remind you he’s hungry or thirsty, or needs his cage cleaned, is gradually neglected.  If you are impulsively thinking of adding a rabbit to your family, it is important to understand that rabbits have a lifespan of 7-l0 years, and they are high maintenance creatures. BEFORE acquiring a rabbit, here are a few points to consider:

  • Housing:  A rabbit’s cage should be at least six times the size of an adult rabbit…It should not have a wire bottom, as the wire can injure the rabbit’s feet. There should be room for a litter box, toys, food and water bowls. It should be kept indoors… NEVER left outdoors.
  • Playtime: They are inquisitive, intelligent, and very social by nature, requiring plenty of exercise and interaction with the humans.  An energetic young rabbit needs at least 30 hours a week of time outside her pen or cage on a regular basis.
  • Grooming: Rabbits shed their coats 3-4 times a year, which necessitates regular brushing.
  • Diet: They need fresh water, fresh grass hay, at least 2 cup of fresh vegetables, and a very small serving of plain rabbit pellets EVERY day.
  • Health:  Like cats and dogs, rabbits should be neutered or spayed. The risk of uterine cancer in intact female rabbits is alarmingly high, and unneutered males are likely to spray.

Mary Cotter, president of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab in New York City stresses that “Rabbits should NEVER be bought on impulse. Adults must be willing to take full responsibility, committed to being actively involved on a daily basis for the possible l0-year lifespan of a rabbit, or they should not consider a live bunny.  A rabbit is not a toy, so if you are not ready to promise him ten years of your life, you’re not ready to give him as a pet. A better choice would be a chocolate rabbit or a stuffed rabbit that will be almost as cute, and a lot less work.”

A perfect Easter gift for any child would be the beautifully illustrated book, The Forgotten Rabbit by Rabbit Society educator, Nancy Furstinger. Wearing its heart on its sleeve, this story has a mission, but it is a worthy one, telling the story of a rabbit who was purchased as an impulse pet and later forgotten and neglected until she was rescued by someone who gave her a forever home and showed her the meaning of love. The story is touching and draws attention to the plight of unwanted pets purchased without adequate planning and preparation. Appropriate for any child over five, the book offers honest, charming insights into the proper care of a rabbit as a companion animal. It is suspenseful, moving, and in the end, joyful. The active language will delight children while helping them build vocabulary skills. The book can be purchased from a local book store, or online from Amazon.com.