Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dogs and Cats Living Together - Mass Hysteria!

Isn't it interesting how one small change can add so much stress to daily life?

Amanda and I are dog-sitting a friend's German Shepherd for two weeks. So instead of our normal household activity, there is now a change that impacts much of the daily routine for 4 of us that were already in the house: Amanda, myself, Sonora our dog, and Socrates our cat.

Some of the change is fun or good, like the dogs running around the house and when Haven (the German Shepherd) loved to play in the stream of water when I was cleaning the pool filters yesterday. She sure loved that...which was fun for her and I since Sonora doesn't want anything to do with the water other than sitting down on the top step of the pool to soak. It is fun having Haven around, but our cat doesn't agree!

Sonora (left) and the dog we are sitting, Haven (right)
Yet, yesterday also illustrated one of the big frustrations the change has brought. Haven is not good with cats. In fact, Socrates had been missing for four days. Normally I try to have Socrates be in our bedroom during the day with the dogs outside. Then, when going to be, I switch them out. Unfortunately, Socrates didn't come back right away one morning to complete the switch back...with good measure. Haven had tried to lunge at him while I was holding him during the swap the day prior. In fact, twice since then Socrates has tried to get back in the house only to have Haven spot him and charge out after him, chasing Socrates back over the wall into neighbors' yards.

Socrates is traumatized. Yesterday, just after a haboob rolled through Phoenix, I went out back and heard him come out meowing in the neighbors yard. Seizing the opportunity, I jumped the wall and was able to get him. I hadn't seen him in 4 days! I picked him up and realized it would be hard to get back over the wall with him, as I did this quickly enough I hadn't been able to put the dogs away to complete this. What I did do was walk around to the front of the house, hoping I had left the front door unlocked from earlier work in the front yard.

No such luck. I then thought I might be able to get over the gate on the side of our house, but the dogs showed up...Haven lunging upward terrorizing Socrates, who I had perched on the wall. So we back downed, and I walked over into the neighbors yard next to us, where I knew the wall was shorter. I placed Socrates on the wall and started to get over when Haven came running. Socrates got away from me, ran down the wall, jumped into our yard but unfortunately Haven was right there, preventing the cat from getting inside. So, once more Haven chased Socrates across the yard and he barely jumped and climbed over the wall once again.

Socrates during more peaceful times with Sonora
Needless to say, I was pretty mad. There was absolutely no controlling the reactions of either Socrates or Haven in the situation. Socrates is terrorized right now by the change. I was able to find out where he was hiding, and so have gone over and put food and water under the shed for him, but he won't come out to my calling. He's probably in a traumatic shock...and now I'm associated with the terror of the dog. Hopefully, this fades. I tried multiple times last night to coax him out, but to no avail.

Of course, this entire situation had me on edge and realizing how much a simple dog-sitting can impact life for better and worse. This isn't the first time we've watched Haven, and she is a good dog but with her own unique tendencies, habits, and personality. Unfortunately, she is not good with cats. So, it adapting and adjusting to this change on life is what is necessary.

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Change in life is inevitable. We should not try to hide from it. But we also need to realize how much of change is out of our control, and simply try to mitigate the circumstances. We can let ourselves get stressed out, or place the blame on the new variable causing the change (Like Haven). Or we can blame the actions of one of our own in failing to react the way we want them to in the face of the change (Like Socrates not coming when I called him later). Perhaps we even react like either Haven or Socrates, becoming aggressive or terrorized, lashing out or hiding away paralyzed.

I know that stuff like this gets me a bit on edge, frustrated that things are peaceful and harmonious. These are times when I realize there are circumstances beyond my power to solve, and being a problem solver this irks me! But its also when I realize I have to let go, release the situation to God, who has promised that He is with me. Do I know how the situation will play out? Absolutely not, but I am confident that Socrates will get back, and I can set him up in our bedroom with all he needs to survive the remainder of the days of dog-sitting!

Can we apply this in the rest of life? We should, but do we? Job hunting, workplace dynamics, family gatherings, and finances place stress and change upon our life. Sometimes we get aggressive, sometimes we withdraw. Yet, we really need to give up our concerns to God, fully bearing our burden with the one who faithfully accepts this burden. He wants us to see that it will be OK, that one way or another the concerns are not the end, but that there is value, meaning, and hope found in Him. He reconciles us with each other in a way I can never reconcile Haven and Socrates. He restores us to himself, bringing us back to a holy life which is focused not on our concerns but His concerns. Change can be embraced the same as the way things have been as we understand that they are simply circumstances that pass.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. -Psalm 55:22

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