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Aren’t You Scared?

One of the most gratifying gifts we can give another person isn’t an object, but an experience.

My father took me flying when I was a young girl. The thing I remember most about the day was how the flight made me feel simultaneously interested yet calm. There was so much to look at, between the airplane itself and the incredible view.

But, something I’ve noticed: When people learn that I fly, they almost always inquire “aren’t you scared”?

I’m so not a thrill-seeker. Flying fits my world view that life is meant to be enjoyed, which includes, being accepting of and embracing things (and people) with an open mind. Flying is what I want to do as a means to escape or take a break. I seek out an hour or so to get away; in the air, it’s quiet and beautiful. My phone doesn’t work above a certain altitude, so the act of unplugging is assured. I see things that move me beyond words; You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky, said Amelia Earhart. I wish more people would experience it, and understand how it works; I feel the fearful aspects would lose their power. Furthermore, I don’t feel that it’s as inaccessible as people assume.

You know what does illicit fear in my heart? Illness. Crowds. An inability to pay bills or fulfill my commitments. Car accidents. Cruelty. But flying? I don’t think it’s any crazier than many of the things people routinely engage in; To that end, we can search long enough to find the elements of danger in most anything. (Tide Pods anyone?)

Lastly, no, I don’t think I’m special because I fly. But I think that flying is special, and I want to share it with others.

I have taken people up for their first flights and it’s a gift to me to watch their joy unfold. I have a little mirror in my cockpit so I can see my rear seat passenger; we will be climbing out after takeoff and I can see their eyes gazing down, smile alighting their mouth. Then they’ve got their phone out, and their snapping pictures and guess what they’re doing?
Sharing it.

The Triumph of Kindness

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Thank goodness the Good Lord made dogs.

I love all animals, but dogs fascinate me because they’re the only animal (that I know of) that specifically choose humans to be their companions. Even when people are not good to them or betray them, (which is unfathomable to me) a dog remains loyal, and, in most cases, will return to humans again.

Between my parents and Mike and I, we have three canine companions. Two were rescues (Stella Mae, a beagle/lab, and Lili Lupita); and our little chihuahua, Badger Kingsley, was kind of a here, take this puppy, situation.

This story is about Lili Lupita. She came from a small town, Center is the name, in Colorado. Someone found her wandering the streets and she ended up at a nearby animal shelter, where they discovered that she was suffering from neglect and serious injuries. Apparently, someone kicked her, hard, in the chest; this resulted in serious internal damage. (Infuriating, right?)

Lili needed major surgery to fix her. The small shelter could not afford the operation, so they decided to try and adopt her “as is”. Lili went to a family for a little while, but they brought her back. Her situation was becoming dire; she couldn’t really eat and had difficulty drawing breath. She was very skinny and had the most heartbroken look in her eyes. She was very timid and fearful and held her tail tucked under her hindquarters.

Lili 1
Skinny and homeless, Lili was originally called “Shasta”

The shelter (Conour SLV Animal Shelter) had faith in Lili (then known as Shasta); they reached out to Dr. Jeff Young, also known as the Rocky Mountain Vet (he has a reality-ish TV show on Animal Planet). He offered to perform Shasta’s needed surgery for a reduced cost. But even with the reduced rate, the shelter did not have the funds.

Again, the good souls at the shelter fought for her. They held a fundraiser, and the community rallied behind little Shasta.

Friends of my parents (they are shelter volunteers) offered to drive Shasta to Denver for her surgery. My parents offered to care for her on the day before the trip to Denver. My parents were moved by her story, and the shy little creature snuggled up to my mom very soon after arriving at their house. My parents decided to adopt her, hoping and praying that she would survive the surgery.

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Lili (then known as Shasta) warmed up quickly to my mom

We all waited anxiously – the long and complex surgery was hard on her frail little body. Yet, despite the rough beginnings in her short life, it seemed as though Shasta also had faith and a desire to live. She pulled through! My parents couldn’t wait to receive their new baby.

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Lili’s belly shortly after her surgery

Shasta wasn’t unwanted anymore, quite the opposite! She came home to a cozy bed, toys, and good food. She slowly put on weight and made a full recovery. She was reborn with a new lease on life. Shasta was renamed Lili Lupita. Over time, she gained confidence among humans and other dogs. She loves to play with Stella and Badger when they come to visit.

pack
Lili, Badger and Stella, begging for vittles in my mother’s kitchen

That was nearly three years ago. She is a bright little spirit; she wags her tail constantly, and is the most loving little creature. In an instant, she’ll hop up on your lap and lay her head on you, wanting to snuggle. (Instantly heart melting!)

Waggy

Lili is amazing; her story captivates me. I was already a dog lover, but in watching her transformation, I’m even more smitten. The heartbroken look in her eyes and her gut-wrenching fearfulness slowly faded away. The dog she is today is nothing short of astounding. Lili never gave up: she never wavered on her will to live. Early in life, she learned that humans can be cruel, but she also learned that most are loving and kind.

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Lili, bonding with my dad

Lili’s story is also about a community of people that wouldn’t give up on a small, timid, unwanted stray. Lili’s loving and happy nature suggests that she thinks humans are pretty amazing.

Humans and dogs belong together.
Waggy 2
Lili Lupita’s waggy tail and happy face! Every dog deserves to be happy and loved.