Spiritually Speaking: Life with Betty

By Rev. Connie Seifert

Who is Betty? Let me introduce you to her – well, as best I can. We’re still getting to know each other. We met last Friday at a rescue shelter in Broadalbin, NY. At the moment, we are sharing a two week trial period to see if we are compatible. Thunder, the cat, is still undecided. I think Betty and I are looking at a long term relationship.

Betty is a five year old, pointer/hound mix. She’s red and white with a beautiful face and eyes that tempt you to say ‘yes’ to whatever she wants – usually food that isn’t good for her. So far so good.
I have not given in to her begging. She is supposed to be taking me for walks to help me lose weight. Hopefully, I will continue to give her a healthy diet and keep her from putting on any extra pounds. I’ve only found a couple of flaws thus far. She does smell like a dog. I can’t really fault her for that. And a trip to the groomer will help in that area. The other fault is that she thinks that she is a match for big trucks. She growls and tries to go after them. Thankfully she is on a tight leash when we are on the road.

I’ve been watching Animal Planet and I’ve got a few things to try which will hopefully break her of this bad habit. On the other hand, she loves people. She will stand still for long periods of time allowing herself to be patted and petted. She is very gentle with children. I’ve not been successful at teaching her to play fetch – or to obey simple commands like ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’ But she does respond to her name, will stop on command and has stopped pulling on leash when we go for walks.

When I first moved to Pennellville, I intended to get a dog. I discovered that my budget was not ready for a dog. Back in October when a stray adopted me for a few days, I decided that it was a sign from God that it was time to revisit the dog option. I started an online search. I knew what I wanted. A rescue dog, old enough to already be housebroken, calm enough to walk as slow as I do and able to get along with a cat. Betty fit all those criteria. I think she’s a keeper. Nonetheless, it is taking time to get used to being a dog owner.

I haven’t left her alone in the house with the cat yet. Tonight will be our trial run for that. Tomorrow she will go with me to Rochester. She has accompanied me to a pre-marital counseling session, a confirmation class and both worship services Sunday morning. That was our first 48 hours together.

Today we have been enjoying a quiet day at home which I think she prefers.

We’re working on establishing a routine but that is no easy feat with my schedule. I have back and arm muscles that are hurting from so much walking. But it is all for the good. I need the extra exercise and her on-leash behavior is improving. She is learning to slow down to my pace. Good thing, because I can’t keep up with hers.

She passed her first ‘home alone’ test last night with flying colors. And she seemed to enjoy all our adventures in Rochester. We met friends at Wendy’s for lunch, visited Aunt Kathy at work, shopped at Petco together where she encountered a Great Dane as big as me (curiosity on both parts but no conflict or casualities), then a long nap in the car on the way home.

When we made our last stop to leave a note for Aunt Kathy at her house in Rush, it was obvious that Betty was ready to come home. She went to Kathy’s door, looked back at me sadly saying, “Mom,
I’m tired. Can we go in?” Of course we couldn’t. Kathy was still at work. My cell phone had died and I couldn’t call Kathy to cancel dinner plans. So we stopped to leave a note. Betty slept soundly all the way home and has not bounced back energy wise though it is 9 a.m. the next morning. She refused to go for a walk this morning so I leave her ‘home alone’ for the second time with great trepidation.

I sure hope that her lethargy and lack of energy just mean that she got worn her out yesterday, not that we need to make our first trip to the vet. Time will tell.

For the most part, I am enjoying being a first time dog owner. I hope I am the one who will give Betty a permanent home. We’ve got 10 more days to go. I now carry plastic baggies in one pocket and dog treats in the other. Picking up poop is the least favorite part of this enterprise but it’s worth it. Thunder the cat is coming around too. She went out with us last night for that last pee patrol. Hopefully, we are on our way to being one big happy family. I’ll keep you posted.

Betty has been good for me spiritually and physically. She will let you pet her forever and loves to be combed. I think she lifted a lot of spirits Sunday morning when she made the rounds after worship too. She is a sweet and gentle spirit in a freckled canine package. I also lost five pounds after this first week of walking the dog. Betty is the answer to many of my prayers. I hope, in the long run, I am the answer to many of hers. Life with Betty is good!