Artist’s Lane: Whiskey goes for a sleepover


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

The phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “How are you doing?”

“I guess OK. The doctor called a few minutes ago and said Reyna, Stephen’s dog, is scheduled to be spayed. My Sweet’s Al’s dog, Whiskey, has been straining all day with hemorrhoids and Angel’s dog, Daisy, is barking outside the front door.”

As for me, I’m about to have a meltdown. I need a break from the dogs. I want to take a bubble bath and dream, “Calgon, take me away.” Unfortunately, that won’t make any of this, or them, go away.

My friend called to say that she wanted to come to Pagosa for a visit. I just about jumped up and down with glee. I needed a respite and time with my friend was the perfect break. There is only one problem, she has dog issues, too. That means that if she comes to stay in the guest house, Whiskey will have to go stay at our youngest daughter’s house. 

If you have been reading my column for any length of time, you know that there is only one thing that causes my Sweet Al to dig in his heels: Whiskey. The truth is, it takes more than a crowbar and a bit of effort to pry the two apart.

“She doesn’t like to go on vacation without me,” Al said. “There is no one for her to talk to.”

“Your dog is big and loud and is undisciplined. It’s not going to hurt for you two to be apart for a week.”

For Al, it’s separation anxiety at the highest level. For me, a day at the spa. 

Before my friend arrived, my Sweet Al packed Whiskey’s overnight bag and off she went. Our daughter said that Whiskey cried all night long. Apparently, she has separation anxiety, too. 

I remember when Al and Whiskey first met. She was only 5 weeks old at the time. I begged him not to bring her home, but he insisted, and so became the momma dog feeding her milk from an eyedropper. 

I reminded him, “You know this is your fault. You ruined your dog.”

“Don’t throw stones. She isn’t ruined. She is just a little broken on the inside without me.”

Around 7 p.m. the next night, Al came into the room and said, “Whiskey needs me.” Next thing I knew, his overnight bag was packed and off he went. 

I read a statement from one of my favorite Bible teachers, “It is the brokenness of someone else that helps us to see our faults and mistakes. We will pick up a stone and see that same failure in ourselves.”

Being questioned by the Pharisees and Scribes who were ready to cast their stones, God the Son stooped down to write in the dirt. And as he wrote, one by one, those same Pharisees and Scribes who stood in judgment disappeared into the crowd.

Who was broken? The one with the stone in hand or the one with the broken soul? I’d answer both. 

When we stand in judgment, it is no different than if we toss a stone in someone’s direction. We can do more damage, even if only in thought, by our self-centered ways. As for the broken, some are splintered, while others are snapped. 

So, how do we deal with things that are broken? We can’t. Much in the same way that we can’t fix ourselves. But we can pray and ask God to intercede. Only then can hearts truly be changed. 

Final brushstroke: It is easier to judge others or where their head is than to accept situations that are out of our control. Why? Maybe it’s because it is easier to focus on what we think others should be doing to avoid taking responsibility for ourselves. It is important to remember that before we call out the splinter in someone else’s eye, we need to take the plank out of our own. 

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