An A-Mail From T-Bone: Swimming Lessons
by Dan Vander Ark
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Introduction: For 13 years T-Bone, our Lab/Irish Setter mix canine companion lived with us. But in May of 2006 we had to put him to sleep due to a losing battle with separation anxiety and his old age issues (his story is available in book form: “Our Dog T-Bone: A Heart Warming Story of One Really Nervous Dog” or out on the web at www.ourdogtbone.com). So the following is what I call “An A-mail (Angel Mail) from T-Bone;” sort of “heaven from a dog’s point of view.”
Hey master…I am up to typing 5 words a minute now! They have a huge keyboard by one of the pearly gates of the city that is made just for dogs – it fits our paws perfectly! I guess it’s what they call dogernomic. It takes me awhile to type these, but hey, I gots lots of time! The angels help us (the younger angels-in-training); they help us spell somewhat and then we can pull up anyone’s name on planet earth and just hit the send button and they say somehow it gets to you. So that’s kool. I guess my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to try replying. There’s a young (and big) Newfoundland pup up here I met the other day. He can only type one word a minute so I am helping the Angel-In-Training help him. Ain’t you proud of me?
And guess what Master? I CAN SWIM! You know how scared I was of the water when I was down there with you? And you tried so many times to get me to swim but I would only go up to my chest? I do remember the one time you tossed me in off the dock at your mom’s lake and I went under for a couple moments and pretended I was a submarine. But I forgives you Master. Up here – I ain’t afraid of the water! I went swimming in the River of Life the other day and was floating on my back even. It’s kind of comical to see. But we had a great time!
We wuz watching HDTV the other day (Heavenly Days TV that is) and me and the other dogs who couldn’t swim too good on earth watched the story of when Peter tried walking on water. It was way cool! Its in the Bible in the New Testament (you DO know where the New Testament is, don’t you Master? Just kidding ), in Matthew chapter 14. Remember the story? Jesus had just fed over 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of Wonder Bread and two little walleyes. Then he told the disciples to get into the boat and cross the Sea of Galilee, but He went up into the mountain to pray. That night a really big storm came up and those big brave disciples were straining at the oars and weren’t making any headway. But all of a sudden, somewhere around 4:00 in the morning, they saw someone WALKING ON THE WATER! ON TOP OF THE WAVES! And Jesus said something like, “Hi guys, how’s it going? Don’t be scared!!!”
But with the wind still blowing and the waves still raging and Jesus still walking on the water, Mr. Bigmouth Peter said, “If it really is you Jesus, tell me to come to you on the water!” And guess what? Jesus told him “Well come on down!” Peter very cautiously got out of the boat, sort of testing his weight on the water (kind of like when you used to put me into the tub Master). And it was just like walking on Jell-O for him! Boing! Boing! Boing! Boing! He looked like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon! He was having a great time as was walking on top of the water and the waves just like Jesus! But all of a sudden, when he began to get scared (I knowz the feeling) and he took his eyes off from Jesus, he began to sink……reallllly sloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwllllllllllllllllllllllllly. It was so bizarre. I remember when you told the funny story of how you and your brothers were tubing down the Ottertail River and you came to a spot in the river and wanted to see how deep it was. So you rolled off the innertube – and fashooom! You sank like a rock to about 15 feet deep. Just your hat was floating on the water! Your brother was laughing so hard when you came up he almost shot minnows out his nose. Anyway Peter didn’t do that (hold it – I gotta connect my doggy thoughts – I don’t mean Peter didn’t shoot minnows out his nose, I mean he didn’t sink fast)…He went down really slowly! But when he cried out for help, Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up. That was so cool. And Peter just walked non-chalantly back to the boat on the water like nothing happened. But Thomas, Mr. No-Faith, said, “Yo Petey, wuz up with all your wet clothes? I told you not to get out of the boat.”
You know what Master? That story taught me too things. Hold it, I mean two things. First, Jesus helps us out in the storms of life. Big-time. Jesus comes in a way we don’t think He will and at a time we don’t think He will. When we are in storms, He loves us and can help us! Next, I would rather be a wet water walker than a dry boat sitter. We gives Pete a lot of grief because he sank, but hey Master – he was the ONLY ONE WHO HAD THE GUTS TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT! So we need to have faith and get out of our boat named “ComfortZone” and see what God can do in our lives. And next….no wait…hold it a moment…let me count on my doggy paws for a second…..nope that was two.
Well Master I gotta go. Hey you know what!? The Taco Bell dog is up here now! And he is a she! She just got here and her name is Gidget and she was 15 earth years or like about 105 dog years. She is teaching me Spanish, like "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" and ¿Es usted todavía calvo? (Are you still bald?). Sorry Master, I couldn’t resist.
Well, me and Bob and Maggie and Ghost and Xander and Alfie and Kegger and Guiness and several Max’s and Tomack are getting together for sort of a Vander Ark extended dog family reunion. The twins are putting it all together for us. Oh, and Gidget is coming as a special guest (I think I love her Master, maybe it’s the way she speaks Spanish).
I miss your wife scratching me behind my ears and hugging me. The angels up here do it, but its just not the same.
Hey Master, one last thing. I still look for you every day by the gate they say someday you will be coming through. I just lay out there for awhile and sort of think about you. Heaven’s real nice, but it ain’t the same without you and Mrs. Ark.
Yer Dog T-Bone
Dan Vander Ark
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