Her name was Bindi, which means Little girl in Australian Aboriginal language. She was part chihuahua and acted like it. She would perch cozily on my lap while I worked. But in bed if I turned over on her, she would bite me.
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I was married when we picked up Bindi. As my wife said, “The saddest looking pup in the pen”. Not too long after, she came down with distemper and was very sick. My wife who had to travel that day suggested we pray for Bindi. She prayed a strong prayer, asking God to heal the little pup.
Now distemper is hard to beat, and while my wife was away, I watched Bindi get out of her puppy-bed and struggle to reach the kitty-litter tray we had set up for her. The pup was dying but still wanted to do what was right! This broke me up, and I cried and cried.
But Bindi didn’t die. When my wife returned late in the day, Bindi was much better and soon recovered completely. I was left facing the new concept (for me) that it’s okay to pray for animals, and especially pets.
Bindi was prone to run away, so we put her on a long leash when we let her outside. The leash was tethered to the back porch. One day the neighbor’s cat sat in the grass in our backyard. Bindi hadn’t seen the cat but the cat was watching Bindi…..carefully. When Bindi went down the steps of the porch, she saw the cat, and took off like a rocket.
At top speed she hit the end of the leash about two feet from the cat. Bindi was vaulted into the air before crashing down to earth. The cat was unmoved, and it seemed she was smiling. Somehow the cat figured the length of the leash, and where to sit in the grass to be safe from attack.
One day I took Bindi into the physics classroom at Oral Roberts University, and told the college kids that she would demonstrate velocity and acceleration. The students lined up along the corridor, and I instructed them to observe the changes in speed and acceleration when the dog moved. I gave Bindi a whiff of jalapeno cheese, which she loved, and commanded her to Stay while I walked about fifteen yards down the corridor and squatted down with the cheese in view.
When I said Okay, Bindi took off and accelerated until the cheese came into view, when she put on the brakes and slipped and slid to a halt just beyond the cheese. We did a repeat, then went indoors where I asked the students to describe velocity changes and how they relate to acceleration and deceleration. For years after, students would come up to me, “Dr Palmer, the best part of your physics course was the accelerating dog. I will never forget that lesson”.
One summer in California, I awoke at 6 am and started working at my desk. Bindi for some reason stayed in her bed, and would not jump up on my lap. I figured she must be sick. About an hour later things in the room started rattling, and my desk was vibrating. It was an earthquake, although only a minor one.
As soon as the earthquake stopped, Bindi jumped out of her bed and up on my lap, as perky and loving as she could be. She somehow knew an earthquake was coming. However instead of seeking the security of my lap, she decided to tough it out alone. I am glad we have the security of our father God’s lap in times of peril and anxiety.
Finally, I offer this quote about the benefits of human touch from Dr Kelly Turner, the author of Radical Remission of Cancer.
Research has shown that human-to-human contact releases many of the same healing hormones that are released when we receive love and support (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, endorphins) while oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) is secreted in particularly large amounts as a result of physical touch.
Oxytocin reduces inflammation and pain, decreases blood pressure, improves digestion, and improves immune function (most relevant for cancer patients). In human studies researchers have found that hugging for only 10 seconds a day can lower your blood pressure, reduce cortisol, and increase oxytocin. So try to get a hug or two each day, as well as an apple a day.
If you aren’t in a cuddling relationship, a pet will do just as well. We receive the same wonderful release of healing hormones from being around pets as we do from being around friends and family. Pet owners have been shown to live longer than non-pet owners.
Post-script: this joke about a chihuahua came from a Methodist pastor before a sermon.
Two men were walking their dogs in Houston on a hot, hot summer day. One dog was a golden retriever, one was a chihuahua. The men came to a bar, and wanted a drink badly, but the sign out front said No Dogs Allowed.
The men came up with a creative idea. They located a couple of long thin sticks, and put on their sunglasses. The first man tapped on the pavement as he walked up to the bouncer with his retriever. Tap-tap-tap.
The bouncer said “Hello sir, what a beautiful seeing-eye dog”, and opened the door to let the man and his dog enter. Seeing this success, the second man walked up. Tap-tap-tap. The bouncer said “Hello sir.” But then he paused and a frown creased his face. “I’ve never seen a seeing-eye dog that was a chihuahua”. The second man, trying hard to act like he thought a blind man would, replied “Do you mean they gave me a chihuahua?”
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. (Book of Luke, chapter 4).
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