What’s up down on Fraggle Rock?

Sorry for the absence … again.

Things got crazy around here. Our fourth high school graduate was taking up our time when she wasn’t working. Her sister was dating and getting engaged. The last kid in the batch was presenting his own challenges.

And then a young lady called and told us, “I can’t take care of my kid right now. I need your help.” That was six months ago and the young man in question has become an even bigger part of our family than he already was. We had been there for his birth. Our house was his first home after the hospital. He’s been on vacation with us. He goes to church with us. He evaded Hurricane Irma when the rest of the family skeedaddled to North Carolina in September.

Things have settled back down, now, and we are used to the idea that our oldest daughter will soon move out and get married. Our oldest son, in the Navy, continues to excel as a sailor and is coming to visit soon with his wife. The second oldest, is doing well in Nashville, but looking for something more. Of the two youngest, one prepares for nursing school and the other is preparing to graduate high school with his associates degree. Next step? USF Bulls and a commission in the United States Marine Corps.

And where does that leave the adults of this little tribe? The missus has found herself in a challenging position that she enjoys. As for me, I’m finally able to get some writing done on a regular basis and making headway on the follow-up to “A Taste for Something New.” It is tentatively titled “Wolves in the Storm.” I hope to have the first draft completed soon and in the hands of an editor by November, with an eventual publish date in mid-February. I plan to share a sneak peak of this new work by the end of the week.

Hope is out of her cone. Small dogs may still bark, but the moment her head turns to glare, they run away. The squirrel in the back? He runs past and doesn’t stop to chatter at her anymore. Brandi relies on Hope as her muscle and Cowgirl is back to being Hope’s punching bag. Koda/Dakota and Hope are sorta friends for real now. Midnight, my future son-in-law’s cat, is not as accepted. We still volunteer with Peace River Search and Rescue and love it.

One final note — Savage 4×4, Inc., in Fort Myers chose my Jeep and I for their 2017 Heroes Build. If you visit their website and social media platforms you can learn more about this project and ways you can support it. I was nominated because of my status as a veteran and for the work I have been doing with PRSAR. Around Nov. 1, Savage will get my Jeep and I won’t see it again until Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. They did this last year for a truly deserving guy and it was incredible. I’m truly blessed to be a recipient of this honor and the work and so forth that goes into it.

And that, dear readers, is a snapshot of life down on Fraggle Rock.

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I have Hope

It’s probably come up from time to time that I have issues with depression and bi-polar disorders. It pretty much sucks.

Despite being a guy who prefers peace and quiet, I am pretty involved in stuff around my community. One of those organizations is Peace River Search and Rescue. I’m the Jeep team. My Jeep is useful for getting to places with more speed than a horse and more maneuverability than larger vehicles, such as an ambulance. It provides a platform for removing team members from the field or getting personnel someplace in a hurry. Finally, it’s a way to bring a victim to their loved ones quickly.

PRSAR hooked me with the Jeep, but they really reeled in the family when they convinced my daughter to begin training her dog, Cowgirl, to be a search and rescue dog. Rebekah, Cowgirl, and I have been learning the basics of SAR the past several months, including a lot of dog training. We’ve met some really neat people and amazing dogs.

One day two of those neat people were discussing a dog they weren’t bringing to training. She had been a police dog, working for a sheriffs office her in Florida when her handler committed suicide while they were in the patrol vehicle. The dog was presented to the widow who struggled to provide the care the dog required. Eventually she passed the dog on to the neat people I know, but they couldn’t figure out what to do with her. Well, they talked to me, and then talked to me some more. What she needed was someone who would be around A LOT to give her love and affection and break the trauma of her past and teach her a new way forward.

Jesus has been breaking me free from the trauma of my past and teaching me a new way forward for a while now. Part of that way forward, I’m pretty sure, involves dogs. I love dogs. We have two here. Well, had. Now it’s three.

Sometimes I ask God to give me hope. He answered. Hope is the latest furry addition to our family. I don’t know if she can help me write more or better. I don’t know if she’ll ever perform for the community as a service dog of some sort ever again. I don’t know if she’ll put up with the puppy’s crap from one minute to the next. But I do know I love her. Every time I look at her I’m reminded how tough things have been for her and how she needs to be handled appropriately. Eventually that understanding leads me to remember that lots of people have had stuff happen to them and they need to be treated decently, too. Finally, I remember that just because I’ve had it rough doesn’t mean it will stay that way. I mean, just look at Hope. Things are looking up for her.

Hope