Last summer, Daisy the Vicarage Dog was very poorly. This normally lively (to put it mildly) now eight year-old Cocker Spaniel was barely able to move at times and had lost both her appetite and her bark. After many appointments with the vets, specialist interventions and different medications, she was diagnosed with a very rare auto-immune disease: Wegener’s… no, the vet hadn’t heard of it either (as he reminded us on many occasions – and continues to do so…).
After months on steroids, the symptoms eased and she was back to her normal self. Steroids meant she drank a lot more – and, thus without giving too much information, she has more towels than Jane and I put together. She would also wake up very early and for weeks we saw more sunrises than ever before. So much so, that in itself took us to the vets. We were prescribed sleeping tablets – for Daisy, that is.
Then a few weeks ago, the symptoms started returning. So, to use one of my favourite phrases (which I believe is original) we followed the ‘wisdom of hindsight in advance’. We went straight back to the vet to catch things early. And she’s back on the steroids. And she’s fine – apart from the reappearance of the two aforementioned ‘issues’.
Five o’clock mornings are something I don’t particularly want in these Covid-fatigue times but our son came up with an excellent suggestion. You see, Daisy is besotted with me. I am, in her life (and maybe in a couple of others too), her No. 1. Jon suggested putting an item of my clothing (recently worn) in to her crate at night so she could smell my scent (or smell my smell, I guess would be an more accurate phrase…). A way of helping her to feel safe and secure. And, so far, so good!
Many of us like our creature comforts, don’t we? That favourite item of clothing or snack. The best chair. The comfortable place.
Physical comfort, such as a hug or holding hands (my wife and are well practised at those) also help us to feel a sense of safety and security.
One of Daisy’s favourite habits is to sit on my lap in the car (when I’m not driving, I hasten to add – but she would do the same, given the chance). Our 20-something year-old daughter will still occasionally sit on my lap too. It’s comforting for both of us. I would love to be able to sit on someone’s lap and be held: like a child with their parent.
In times of prayer I often imagine Jesus sat next to me on the sofa or in the room. I imagine God’s arms holding me safe and secure.
The psalmist’s words have become a regular source of comfort for this particular creature:
My soul clings to you, your right hand holds me fast.’ (Psalm 63:8)