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June 27, 2007

Laughter and Joy are Contagious

Paws I have said it before, but one of my highest compliments for an author is that he or she is funny or joy-filled. It might strike you as a queer sort of rating scheme, but the more I contemplate it, the more I think laughter and joy a very Divine notion.

The American Chesterton Society has a television program hosted by their president Dale Ahlquist called G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense. It struck me last night that Chesterton is completely right when he said, “Man is more man-like when joy is the fundamental thing in him and grief the superficial.” Do Christians in America have joy and laughter and grief and sorrow inverted?      

Christ Himself must have been fun to hang around. He was on a serious mission to be sure, but somehow I can’t picture our Savior as a dour or critical sort man. The facts speak for themselves—Christ was always surrounded with people, and he was always spreading His Father’s message of salvation, love, joy and peace, and also exhorting people to be anxious about nothing.

Heaven is going to be a place of great laughter and joy, but here on Earth, as Chesterton says, “We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levity of the angels.”

Here’s my own attempt at writing something humorous which I’ll title, “What I Really Need is Tactical Training.” 

I don’t own a dog and probably never will, but I have become hooked on watching a National Geographic program called The Dog Whisperer, staring Caesar Millan. I’m not sure what it is about the program I like so much—maybe it’s the fact that in order to treat a dog well, its owner needs to treat it like the creature it was created to be, and to do so, the owner needs to establish doggie rules, boundaries, and limitations.  Proper pooch affection isn’t necessarily just cooing and giving the dog treats, but taking it for walks and introducing their canine pal to other types of doggie adventure.   

My father-in-law, Papa Moreland, owns a beautiful but a somewhat undisciplined black Laboratory Retriever named Luke. Luke is still young (under two years) and weighs about 90 pounds  He's been clocked runing at forty miles an hour, and can jump four and a half feet high. Luke, like any brat, likes attention and is a happy, gangly large-pawed pup. Papa M. also has two other dogs, Gigi, an older Beagle mix, and a Jack Russell Terrier mix called Dog.   

One day when my husband Terry and I were going for a visit, I decided that I’d seen enough of Mr. Millan’s techniques to try them out on Luke, The Brat. I was contemplating taking Luke for a hike in the mountains, but Terry sort of snorted and said the dog would probably be in the lead chasing a bear or some other woodsy creature while I was dragged though the woods tangled in his leash.

Undeterred by Terry’s pooh-poohing my would-be success, I squared by shoulders and entered Papa’s house where I greeted Dog first, but quickly The Brat nosed his way in between the two of us. Ignoring him, I turned my attention toward Gigi, but before I got three pats in, Luke came and laid down in front of me, and as quick as a bunny, snaked his long "arms" out and pushed Gigi out of my reach. Of course my husband and Papa M. where both watching this little comedy played out as I tried to establish my Alpha status. Round one went to Luke, which left me, the sap, still part of his pack.

Quickly reviewing my performance, I realized I made a number of tactical mistakes—for one thing I was pinned in on all sides with furniture, but my biggest mistake was that I continued scratching The Brat's belly after he’d pushed the other dog out of the way. What was really galling was seeing a huge canine grin plastered across Luke’s face. 

Knowing the Lord God made us all, I sat grinding my teeth over being bested by a dog, while the angels in heaven and my relatives laughed out loud. 

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