For many years we only had cats then we also got chickens. Much more recently we started raising turkeys and we got a dog. We have considered getting larger animals like goats or cows, however, the amount of time they require is highly prohibitive. They also need pastures which we would be hard put providing on our piece of property, though it could be done. Also they would tie us to our property making it impossible for us to go anywhere because we would have to milk them every morning and night, unless we had a neighbor who could care for them while we were away. This we do not have although we do have a neighbor who is kind enough to do our fowl when we are not here.
I love cats, don't you? We have two, they are both females. In the spring they have kittens, usually 3 or 4 each. On unusual years one of them will have 5, but this year there is an exception that none of us have ever seen before, our youngest cat had kittens both in the spring and in the fall, we had all noticed that she was getting very fat, but few of us expected her to have kittens. She had 4 Christmas kittens. We try to find good homes for our kittens by the time they are two months old.
In 2001 I began working with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. We had not had a dog of our own, except for a few strays, since I was a baby, and though I had been praying and asking God to give us a dog, He had other plans. After much prayer Mom and I began attending GEB (Guiding Eyes for the Blind) classes at our local school. Under the patient instruction of the local leader, I learned the proper handling and training techniques used by the organization and became a puppy sitter. My job was to take the young dogs into our home when their raisers needed a break.
For the twelve to eighteen months that the puppies were with their trainers, they were taught basic obedience and good manners and were socialized to every imaginable place and situation into which they might go with a blind person. Our home was a great socializing center with lots of children, chickens and cats. Once all the basics were achieved the young dogs were sent to GEB headquarters where they learned the refined skills of leading in harness and guiding a blind person.
At one time I considered raising a puppy for them but the amount of time required was more then I could give. So I remained a puppy sitter. It was a pleasant situation for us, having and enjoying the dogs in our home for short periods of time. I learned a lot in the way of patience and perseverance, teaching puppies new things that they would rather not have to do. I also learned to be alert to my surroundings so as to know what might cause the dog to react, before it happened. I continued with Guiding Eyes for several years until I started high school, at which point I became too busy to participate faithfully and gradually pulled out.
About a year later, we were offered one of the last dogs I had worked with. He had had an accident which had made him timid and in certain situations fearful, and thus totally disqualified him from being a guide dog. Because I had worked with him and had him in our home I knew his problems. At our home he came in contact with none of the fear causing elements in his life and was very relaxed and pleasant. We chose to accept Navy into our lives. Being in the safety and seclusion of our home, Navy has gradually overcome his fears and is, for the most part, a carefree, normal dog. The kids have enjoyed teaching him to swim and climb rocks and love to put him through a test of his obedience training for treats. I have taught him several new commands like "go" and "stand" to make him an easier dog to handle.
When I prayed for a dog years ago I never expected God to answer my prayers in this way. But I am glad He did. I now have the knowledge and experience I gained through GEB to adequately train a dog and make it a pleasant pet, something I would not have had otherwise. And we also have a very nice, though rather lazy, well trained dog. Sometimes God does not answer our prayers at once, but I am encouraged through this experience, to wait for His best and not become impatient when I do not receive His answer. He will always do for us what He knows is best, and that is what I want for my life.
Copyright © 2006 The Stover Family - all rights reserved.