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Climbing Trees In the Rain

Climbing Trees In the Rain - Encouragement for Your Writing (and other) Goals.

Writing is a journey - a put one word in front of the other adventure. And it takes persistence. Lots of persistence. I thought I might share with you this story about my daughter's service dog as a way to illustrate what that means. When Bear was a very little bear, he set out on his hero’s journey. As his “mom” it was my job to give him the tools for success. Two of the major tools for a DAD (Diabetes Alert Dog) are persistence and discernment. By persistence I mean that he cannot give up – not ever. If my daughter (affectionately known as Kid #4) had a low blood glucose level, Bear couldn’t give a signal and go to sleep. He had to get the blood levels checked. He had to go around the house and find someone who would act. Bear is very good at this.

We have different ways that Bear signals us based on where we are and what’s going on. If we are at a restaurant, Bear will tap-tap-tap on my foot until he hears the meter beeps. At home, where we are busy and our brains are often elsewhere, Bear will bring us shoes and drop them over and over until we give him the signal, “check-check, Bear.” This isn’t enough for my husband. Hubby is deaf in one ear and can’t always hear the shoe being dropped. If I’m not home and Bear needs to get Hubby to act, he will jump right up on the bed and hit my dear deaf husband in the head with the shoe. "There! That'll get his attention." No. I didn't teach Bear to do that, but it cracks me up every time I see it happen. Persistence and a little ingenuity keeps Kid #4 safe

Now here’s a major issue with DADs - if 1/3rd of the U.S. is diabetic, how can we take Bear out in public and get him to ONLY alert on his diabetic? Well, I thought I had it worked out -- both the persistence idea and the discernment idea. I thought I would teach these concepts to Bear with his daily ballgames. When Bear was a puppy, I would give him one tennis ball and that was the only tennis ball that we would play with that day – the only tennis ball that I would throw. As he learned this, I would add to the number of tennis balls that were out in the yard. When the yard was full of tennis balls and Bear still would only bring me our tennis ball du jour, then I could even throw other balls. He would chase them but refuse to pick them up, returning to me and waiting for me to throw the right ball.

The persistence part comes from another game we played. I would send Bear away from me with the command, “Go.” As he ran away, I would pitch the ball into the bushes somewhere. He would turn for the ball, and I would command, “Find it.” Off he would run, and run, and run. He would have to search the whole yard. Most times this was a forty-five second event. His nose is remarkable. Sometimes when the ball went some place obscure it was a longer process. There was Bear running circles around the yard sniffing every square inch -- his tail wagging, his tongue lolling, joy shining his coat. I’d sip my coffee and wait. Bear would not give up until he found the ball. I love this about him!

Well, I mostly love this about Bear. One particular morning not so much. I was out throwing the ball for him having a great time, enjoying nature and the beauty of the trees in their full green splendor. I sent bear out with the, “Go,” command, turned and threw the ball behind me. “Find it, Bear!” And off he sprinted. I sat down and took a sip of my coffee to wait for the ball to be brought back to me. There was a clap of thunder and the sky opened up. Rain by the bucket full. I went onto my porch to wait for Bear. I couldn’t call him in because he didn’t have the ball – and he can never give up. He ran by me -- coat streaming, big smile on his face. He was having a great time! He ran and ran and ran. The humidity in the air made my clothes heavy and wet. I was getting cold, and still he ran. The thunder boomed and the lightening flashed – and still he ran.

I couldn’t understand what was taking him so long. Was it the wind? Was the rain getting in the way of his scent? Then Bear put both paws on a tree and looked over at me. I waited. Bear looked up the tree, looked back at me, and barked. I perfectly understood what he barked at me. “Hey, Mom! I found it. The ball's up the tree, and I never give up until the ball is in my mouth!”

So that’s how I found myself, dressed in my sopping wet flannel p.j. pants, climbing a tree in the rain to retrieve the ball that had wedged itself into the branches. Because in our house, Bear will only play with the ball-of-the-day, and he will not stop until he has put it back in my hand. And I love that about him (mostly). Best of luck with your project. When the rain is lashing you, picture Bear -- nose to the ground, smile on his face, tail wagging, powering through because nothing will stop him. Don't let anything stop you. One word and then another. You'll get there; I know it.

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