Dog’s World

Dog owners know that dog, spelled backwards, is God. Dogs make the best people.

Angel Joy weeds

One sure cure for depression is to watch dogs out for a walk or running free along a beach. Heads up, tails wagging, sheer joy and exuberance shining out of their eyes.

Next time you pass someone out walking a dog, look—really look—at the dog. Chances are it is so proud and joyful to be walking with its owner that it will make you smile.


Dogs are praised for their unconditional love and loyalty. Another trait that makes dogs delightful is their ability to squeeze joy out of every moment. From hanging heads out car windows to catch scents on the breeze, to leaping into the air to catch Frisbees and balls, dogs excel at enjoying life.

Not everyone can own a dog and not everyone has the health to enable them to walk or care for a dog. But if you don’t and can’t have your own dog—just go somewhere and watch other people’s dogs. Then ask yourself, “Depression? What depression?”

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God provides healing in the world He made for physical and mental ills. I believe cure for depression is as simple as watching a dog and following its example: an attitude of gratitude for every moment of life.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! Psalm 150:6

Author Alan McKean took some of these incredible photos of our rough collie, Angel Joy.

Author Val Poore, Life HER Way

Meet Author Valerie Poore, Living Life HER Way.

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Best selling author Valerie Poore’s books include “Watery Ways,” “Walloon Ways,” “African Ways,” “Harbour Ways,” “How to Breed Sheep, Geese And English Eccentrics, and “The Skipper’s Child.” Her secret to success could be her courage to live life her way, never abandoning dreams no matter how impossible they seem. I am honored that she agreed to share my blog this week.

Val, do you remember what age were you when you decided to become a writer and what inspired you to make that decision? What is the earliest writing success you remember? Have there been any heartbreak rejections? If so…what kept you going?

Oh my goodness, Steph, I cannot remember ever not writing something. I wrote reams of stories as a child and then later, I wrote more descriptive articles. I also had to write for my work as a communications manager, so that meant a lot of copywriting for ads and brochures as well as newsletters. But the actual decision to write seriously for myself started in South Africa. I spent so much time listening to the radio that I decided to try my hand at writing plays for broadcast. Sadly, I never had any luck and had a few rejections from the SABC (SA’s broadcasting corporation) as well as from the BBC, but I did have a short story broadcast on a Christian radio station. It was a story about a minister who finds a kitten and on returning it to its atheist owner, starts an unusual friendship that leads them into all sorts of philosophical discussions. It had a happy and (I still think) rather touching ending.

It sounds like a marvelous story. I would enjoy reading it – but then, I enjoy reading everything you write! Your young adult book “The Skipper’s Child” is fiction, based on history and fact which, I believe, gives it added dimension and interest for readers. It has – along with some of your other books – been a best seller. “How to Breed Sheep, Geese, and English Eccentrics” seems to be fictionalized non-fiction. The rest of your books are non-fiction in the memoir genre. Which do you enjoy writing most and why? Do you have a future writing project in mind that is different from the books you’ve already written? And if so, would you like to discus it?

Well, I’m not sure if you would call any of them real best sellers, but I’ve been lucky enough to have The Skipper’s Child and two of my memoirs at the top of their respective categories for a while, so that’s been a huge thrill. As for the mix between fact and fiction, yes, I can’t seem to get away from fact completely. All the same, I enjoy writing fiction as it allows me the creative freedom to invent things that I don’t have with memoir writing. I have never written anything as completely fictitious as you have though – not yet! My next book is a novel set in Africa but is still based on my life there. The one after that will be much more of a challenge as it involves more research into the history of the waterways than I’ve ever needed to do before and it will be completely fictitious story. I’m really excited about it, actually. The idea is for a novel about a Dutch skipper’s efforts to escape from the Germans during the war. It will start with the bombardment of Rotterdam, which was much more horrific than I ever realised.

What a great idea, Val. Like all your other books, I can’t wait to read it! Now, let me ask this: “Watery Ways,” “Harbour Ways,” and “Walloon Ways” all detail restoring barges and adapting to living on the water. I love what one reviewer said, “Val makes even plumbing interesting.” What are the disadvantages of barge living? Do you expect to always live on a barge or do you want to plant your life back on solid ground someday?

Ah, Steph, I am already in a kind of transitional phase. I don’t spend all the time on my barge anymore as my partner finds it too small and uncomfortable these days, so I live with him in a house at weekends and on my barge during the week when I’m alone in Rotterdam for work. The disadvantages I have are only because of the location of my home harbour, which is on a tidal river in the middle of the city. The challenges come from problems with excessively high or low tides combined with wind, and of noise from being in the city’s social hub. If I were to move to a different location, there wouldn’t be any disadvantages as far as I’m concerned, but it’s not a ‘switch on the light and turn on the tap’ kind of life. You have to sort out your own electrical connections, fix your own plumbing and fill up water tanks on a regular basis. It’s hard work, and I’ve had to learn how to do it all myself, but I don’t see that as a downside. Quite the reverse – it’s all be part of the adventure.

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I love your sense of adventure, Val! Along with brilliant writing, it’s what makes your books so much fun to read. Even though you might deny it, you are also courageous and that pops out from the words on the pages when you detail the difficulty and hard work involved in building your life on a floating foundation. Another question, from “Walloon Ways” and anecdotes about your dog Sindy, and from “How to Breed Sheep, Geese, and English Eccentrics, it’s obvious you love animals. Do you ever plan to retire from your barge and fill your life with animals again? How difficult is it to keep a dog on a barge?

Oh yes, I love animals – probably more than most people really. Having a big dog on a barge was quite a challenge, and when Sindy got old, it was really difficult, especially as she hated being on the move too. Because of that, I won’t have another dog or cat until I lead a more settled life, but yes, I would love to have animals again. I miss Sindy terribly, even now. One day, though, I’ll have another dog, a small one though, and a cat too. I’d really like to have chickens as well. They are the funniest, most delightful creatures to have and to watch – just the job for when I get old and want to stay at home more, and then I can have my own eggs as well!  

I’m sure you will have all of that and more some day. You might even run your own farm when you exchange your watery ways for walking ways. It’s been so much fun having you here today. Delightful. Thank you. Before you leave to get back to your busy life, what would you most like readers to know about you and your books?

Wow, that’s a difficult question, but a good one! I think all I really want people to know is that life can always be an adventure if you just get up every day with a sense of wonder and curiosity, and I hope my books reflect this. Of course I’ve had my ups and downs, but my attitude is always to keep exploring, keep trying new things and keep enjoying every opportunity, however challenging it is. It’s taught me about places and introduced me to wonderful people I might never have encountered otherwise. I suffered from depression and crippling shyness as a teenager, but going to Africa cured me of both. It was the best thing I could have done and I think it’s what taught me to be open to everything and to cherish every experience, both good and bad.

I can’t imagine you ever having suffered from depression and crippling shyness, Val. You have done as marvelous a job of reinventing yourself as you have your lifestyle and your barges. That makes you an inspiration for others, especially those who are facing the same battles in their lives. Thank you so much for joining me today.

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Keep Growing

It is inspirational, the little tree that has been knocked down into a nearly vertical position – because it keeps growing.

It reminds me of a man who was “born to lose.” He was born with cerebral palsy. He suffered constant physical pain, humiliating public ridicule, bullying, and constant discouragement. Every time he faced a challenge he was told, “You can’t do that. You have cerebral palsy.” But he kept growing.

His father died. His mother was his one and only comforter and cheerleader. To each objection that others raised about his abilities, his mother told him he could do that. He felt that his mother was the only person in the world who loved him and the only woman in the world who would ever love him. Then she died, leaving him an orphan at age 14.

Severely depressed, and passed around from place to place because no one wanted him, he dropped out of school. Over the next two years, he attempted suicide several times. Then he gave his life to Jesus…and suddenly found for the first time in his life – he could do that. With the power of Jesus’ Holy Spirit, the baby who was born to lose transformed into a winner. He kept growing.

David Ring went back to school and graduated. He applied for college and was told, “You can’t do that. You have cerebral palsy.” Ring graduated from college and followed the Lord’s call into ministry. He was told, “You can’t do that. You have cerebral palsy. You can’t preach. Who would listen to you? You can’t talk right. You stutter. You can’t walk right. Your legs drag. No church would call you to preach.” He kept growing.

David Ring became a nationally known motivational speaker in 1973, and addresses some 100,000 people each year. He is also an author. He kept growing.

Ring was told, “You will never get married. You can’t get married. You have cerebral palsy. No woman would want you.” He kept growing.

Ring is a proud husband, and the father of four children. He has two grandchildren. The mantra of his life is: “I have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy doesn’t have me.” He keeps growing.

Ring tells audiences, “I serve the Lord with all that is within me. What’s your excuse?”

Good questions. If we have quit growing…what is our excuse?


Outward Looking

No one has a perfect life. Everyone hits hard places. Outward looking is the key to joy even when you find yourself growing among the rocks.

During my lifetime I’ve faced: childhood sexual abuse and forced abortions to cover it up; living under a bridge; 150 rejection slips for books before getting published; divorce; raising a hyperactive son as a single parent; losing the job I loved after seven years; having my house and property stolen from me; bereavement after losing first a husband, then a son, relocating to another country. Then there were the minor rocky places; being kicked in the face by my horse; getting bitten by a cottonmouth; getting attacked by an African lion (they don’t make good pets); having my truck catch on fire in downtown San Antonio; living in an open-ended garden center with no indoor plumbing and wooden planks with a lawn chair mattress for a bed; working two and three jobs for survival. Through all of these things, I have never lost my joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Recently, I’ve found myself counseling people who suffer from depression. I’ve never told them what I’ve been through. I’m no hero for having survived. My secret is Jesus and believing God’s Word: “In everything give thanks,” (I Thessalonians 5:18) and “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) Just as important, my outward-looking verse, Philippians 4:8: “Finally…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

When we look inward on our lives and relive the past with all its pains, illnesses, disappointments, disillusionments and loss, we are bound to be depressed. It’s like punishing ourselves repeatedly for the times in life we’ve been forced to grow in rocks. Inward looking is living a defeated, powerless life – and it’s selfish. When we think, “me, me, me,” all the time, “look what happened to poor me,” we are being shallow and self-centered. Everyone hits rocky ground. No person holds a monopoly on tribulation.

When we look outward and forget about ourselves and what we’ve been through, we are infused with new purpose, power, and joy. Because of what we’ve been through, we can help others. Because we’ve survived, we are stronger. Because we develop grateful hearts, we are joyful.

So if you find yourself in rocky ground, forget where your feet are planted and look outward. Who can you help? Where can you volunteer? What new hobby can you find? What educational benefit can you add to your life? Visit folks at a nursing home. You don’t have to be an expert. Give them a smile and hold their hands. Make cards to send military who are fighting for your freedom – better yet – send them care packages. Adopt a dog or a cat. Adopt a child. Take an elderly neighbor out to lunch. Look outward – not inward. You will find your roots going deep into the secret well of joy…even if there are still rocks around your feet.

Of course…you might be a writer. Don’t talk about it – do it. Write that book that you’ve always wanted to write because you’re the one who can tell your story best.

Outward looking is the key to joy. places

Dare to be a Dog

Dogs win accolades for unconditional love – and they should.

I want to praise dogs for their joyfulness.

Every day we take pretty much the same walk with our dog. Every day, other dog owners take pretty much the same walk with their dogs. Yet, every day, every dog is joyful to be out on a walk – even when passing the same scenery, the same greenery, the same same. Regardless of the sameness and circumstances surrounding them, the dogs are joyful to be alive and to be with the people they love. They exercise an attitude of gratitude.

What a life-changing spiritual lesson we could learn from dogs! Dare to be a dog! Dare to be joyful! People talk about being “stuck in a rut,” but wherever we are in life never starts out as a rut. It becomes a rut when we continuously dig it with complaining and a lack of gratitude. No matter where we live, God has created a beautiful world and has blessed us with another day of life. If you are reading this, you still have your life. With that life come the possibility and responsibility of choosing joy or sorrow; hopelessness or faith. Many other choices surround us in life, but depression destroys health. Joy restores health. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22.

Life doesn’t come with a rewind button. None of us can undo hurts and harms from the past. Our only choices are to become better and stronger from the heartbreaks we’ve survived– or bitter and resentful.

God loves an attitude of gratitude. He created us to praise Him. When Jesus was told that his worshiping followers were too loud and joyful, Jesus responded, “If they keep silent, the stones will cry out.”

Psalm 150 exhorts, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”

Many people make many New Year’s Resolutions. One would suffice. Dare to be a dog.