by Jim Kraus. I loved this book.
I wasn’t sure when I saw the title, and, I was not familiar with the author, but I must say, the first page or two had me hooked and I finished the book in less than 36 hours. It was delightful – no other word but delightful. Thurman, the dog, is gifted in growling! And, those growls translate into words only a few can understand. Wilson, the Vietnam vet, college professor who is now in possession of Thurman (thanks to his mom, Gretna), hears every word Thurman mutters and they are words of faith and healing. Several stories are going on in the pages of TDTW, there’s Gretna, Hazel, and Emily; each a story in themselves but Kraus weaves it perfectly.
I emailed Mr. Kraus from his website and the next day I received a reply! He asked if he could furnish a piece for my blog review of the book, to which I enthusiastically said, “YES!”
Jim knows dogs and he studies them – here’s what he learned via his current dog, Rufus, on the very day he emailed me:
What I Learned from my Dog Today . . . Take Care of Things You Love
I continue to be amazed at what lessons our dog companions can teach us. Take our family dog, Rufus. He is a noble dog, gentle and kind. (Unless you’re a squirrel.) (And no, he’s never come close to catching one.) And he treats his possessions extremely well. Rufus is now in the middle of his eleventh year. For a miniature schnauzer, at that age, he is considered a senior citizen. When he was just a puppy, we purchased a stuffed squirrel for him. (That may be why he considers squirrels as prey.) He loved that squirrel.
He would play fetch with it for hours. (Okay, not hours, but until my arm got tired of tossing it for him to retrieve.) He would carry it with him. He would nibble at it. If we told him to “get your squirrel,” he would search the house until he found it and proudly bring it back to us. Occasionally, we would find him asleep, with his chin resting on that stuffed squirrel.
Schnauzers are terriers. A professional-dog- training friend of mine said that terriers can be hard to control. “They want to know what you want killed.” But Rufus has gone against the breed characteristics.
When we purchased that original squirrel, we bought a second, anticipating that eventually, Rufus’ terrier instincts would kick in and he would tear the toy apart in a flurry of plush and cotton stuffing. But here it is eleven years later, and the second, back-up squirrel remains attached to the original cardboard backing, still waiting in the drawer, waiting for Rufus to destroy the first one.
He hasn’t. And I am certain that he won’t. We played for a few minutes today with that squirrel. Our sessions are shorter now—his back hips must hurt a bit. It takes him longer to stand. He limps for the first few steps. For those aches and pains, he consumes expensive medication from the vet. And that original squirrel looks almost as good as the day it first came home.
So what do I take from this?
That we should treat the things we love and enjoy with gentleness and respect. Not just the ‘things’ in our life—but more importantly, the people in our life. Too often I see people, couples often, who have reached a certain longevity in a marriage, snipe and grouse and bicker near constantly. That’s no way to live. If you love someone, you need to be of gentle spirit, and kind, and respectful.
And that is what Rufus taught me today.