Travels with Chanel

• The explorer dog.
• Chanel gets to see in 3D.
• She eats my stuff.
• Some spiritual applications.

The book called Travels with Charley (1960) by John Steinbeck was about his French Poodle. Steinbeck claimed Charley was clairvoyant: in the evening all Steinbeck had to do was think that it was potty time, and the dog trotted over to the camper door before his owner made any physical sign or movement.

Chanel and Mary her owner with a spectacular view of the southern Oregon Coast, near Gold Beach. Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog.

Mary has a little dog, 9 pounds, called Chanel. The Morkie is a cross between a Maltese and a Yorkshire Terrier. I’ve grown very fond of Chanel. She has long silky hair, and she doesn’t shed (mostly). She never met a person she didn’t want to lick on and love on.

Recently Chanel and I took a road trip – from the Oregon coast to Independence, Kansas. I alone was responsible for the dog. As an engineer, I’m trained to observe and to interpret. Here is what I found out.



From Oakland, California I drove to Barstow, in the middle of the Californian desert. At the edge of town I leashed Chanel and followed her around with the instruction: Go potty. Chanel sniffed the bushes: sniff – walk – sniff – walk – sniff – walk. But no potty.

A goat head sticker. Click to enlarge or to source.

Suddenly she jumped back and shook her head violently. She had a goat head sticker stuck on her nose. As I pulled it out, I winced because I could see it was hurting Chanel. For the rest of the potty-walk I guided the leash so she avoided the goat head plants which are sneaky evil plants that grow low to the ground.

Chanel explored half an acre of this desert with great enthusiasm. But no potty contributions. I finally gave up and watched the clouds flare in pink as the desert sunset grew rich and died. I looked down and at that moment Chanel pee-peed, so we returned to the hotel.



I wondered about the pee-pees later. A dog has to leave a calling card, right? It’s a search for significance, I think. The human equivalent is an innate desire to be recognized, respected, admired. The calling cards that humans use are things like a tattoo, or long hair, or a perfect figure, or beauty cosmetics, or making money, or demonstrating power in business or politics. We all want to be significant and proud of something. I think that’s okay so long as its kept in balance.

Although Chanel pee-peed before bedtime, when I awoke in the morning she had peed on the lower bed sheet and it went through to the underlying mattress padding. I reprimanded her strongly and pointed my long bony index finger at her. She lowered her head, dropped her tail, and remained downcast until I washed the sheet and the padding, and dried them with a hair dryer. It took me 45 minutes and I was angry the whole time.

After I finished, Chanel looked so mournful I picked her up and held her like a baby. I had to forgive her before I could comfort her and tell her it was alright now. She looked up at me and her big brown eyes sparkled once again. I found out later she may have had a bladder infection. Sometimes when we judge, we don’t always know the background….. of dogs or people.

Chanel loves it when I pick her up and hold her like a baby. She gets to see a different view…. a different perspective on the world from what she usually sees one foot above ground. The earth is round from up here, not flat. She can see better the height of a car, a house, a tree. It’s an extra dimension for her life….. 3D not 2D.

She is relaxed in my arms, and part of this must be the security I provide. I guess she feels safe and protected and loved.

Chanel admiring the fall colors in 3D. Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog.




I left a few See’s suckers in the lower door compartment of my car. When I returned, one of the sucker wrappings was lying on my car seat next to the sucker stick, but the sucker was missing. Chanel had somehow unwrapped the sucker and eaten it off the stick. Eaten the entire sucker, then crushed the wrapping paper. Is she smart or what?

When I challenged Chanel about this, her bright and shiny eyes said, “Why are you blaming me?” It was too amusing for me to be angry, except it was my favorite sucker flavor: chocolate-coconut.

A Sees sucker: chocolate-coconut flavor. Chanel ate the sucker, but left the stick and the wrapper.

That’s not the end of the story. Chanel is on a special food diet because she sometimes gets an inflamed intestine. And it happened again after she ate the sucker. Her tummy growled all night, she stopped eating the next day, and was totally subdued. I told Chanel there is a penalty for breaking the rules, no matter how clever we think we are!

TAKEAWAYS and possible spiritual applications.

• We can explore, yes, but stay within the boundaries (particularly important for teenagers). For the rest of the potty-walk I guided the leash so Chanel avoided the goat head sticker plants. Following in Jesus’ footsteps is a good way to avoid moral stickers up our nose.
• A common human desire is to be recognized, respected, admired. The biblical trait of humility helps to keep these in balance (rather than excessive pursuit).
• I had to forgive Chanel before I could comfort her. But then her big brown eyes glistened once again. Every psychologist in the world says it’s important to forgive, and that comes straight from the life and teachings of Jesus.
• Chanel may have had a bladder infection when she peed on the sheets. Before judging, it’s good to find out the background of a dog or a person.
• When I pick up Chanel and hold her like a baby, she gets to see a different view. The earth is round from up here, not flat. It’s an extra dimension for her. Now she sees in 3D not just 2D. When God embraces us, it’s a new view of the world, and access to a new dimension…. a spiritual dimension.

Forgiven, comforted, and reassured.

• Chanel is relaxed in my arms. She feels safe and protected and loved. Like Chanel, when I feel depressed or wounded or lost I run to the arms of God.

• Chanel had somehow unwrapped the sucker – my favorite sucker – and eaten it off the stick. Clever, and proud of herself…. until next day when she was hit by a stomach-ache. There is a penalty for breaking the rules, no matter how clever we are. I like Jesus as a role-model and I like the moral code of rules that He represents. I want to stay on the right side of God.

POST-SCRIPT: I turned out the lights after working on this blog last nite, and saw a tiny shadow in the corridor. Chanel who had been in the other room had come to check on me. My heart felt a twinge of love. I picked her up and cuddled her.

I want to check on folks who are hurting or sick or downcast. Not just pray for them, which is good, but check on them. Maybe they will feel a twinge of caring love also.

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The Gray Nomad ….. help someone to hope.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. [Book of Psalms, chapter 91].

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