Monday, February 20, 2012


George taking a snooze.
 Not long after Rocky joined the Johnson Tribe, we gained another furry family member.  When my dad's health began to decline rapidly, he wasn't able to care for his dog any longer.  My parent's dog, George, is quite possibly the world's perfect dog...well, minus his dog breath and frequent flatulence{snicker}.  He is small, the perfect size for curling up in your lap.  He has an incredibly sweet personality, never aggressive in any way.  His fur is soft and curly, perfect for petting.  George has the most adorable little pudgy tail and it seems to always be wagging...he is a happy guy!  All of my dad's grandchildren love, love, love George.  He was a constant companion to my dad in his retirement.  After my mom's death, George's company was even more appreciated.  George gave my dad someone to care for, talk to, complain about, and "hang out" with.  When my dad would arrive at my house for a visit, my kids would run to his truck to shouting, "George! Poppy!"  My dad joked that they loved George more than they loved him. 

As my dad's health began to decline more rapidly, we had many conversations about the past...remembering the wonderful times our family had shared.  I also heard many stories for the first time - sort of shocking, my dad was a storyteller and I thought I had heard them all.  We laughed and cried...and remembered.  We also had a few conversations about the future.  He told me what we should do with some of his belongings after his death...material posessions didn't have much value to my dad.  We talked about how he was ready to go to Heaven and how he longed to be with my mom again.  We also talked about George.  He was concerned about what would happen to him and how he didn't want to burden anyone with George's care.  I quickly told him that George was a joy and not a burden...and that most likely we would end up in a custody battle over him!  My dad thought that having George at my house might be a comfort to my boys after he was gone.  He was so right.

Keeping Caleb company during his breathing treatment.

So, we've gone from zero dogs to two dogs in just a few months.  Brad is taking it all in stride...because he loves his family, he will tolerate the dogs {smile}.  George and Rocky have become pals.  They get along incredibly well and have similar termperments.  Rocky and George are rarely apart...snuggling on the dog bed, resting in the chair, playing outside, sharing a dog crate...they are canine companions. 

George has become one of the family.  We love him.   I can't imagine not having him here.  Welcome to the Johnson Tribe, George! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In the extended silent period of the ol' Johnson blog...much has happened.  I'll begin with last summer.  Wowza!  The blog really was dormant for a long time.  Anyhoo...back to the task at hand.  Catch-up.

For years, Brad and I have had conversations about getting a dog.  I am a huge dog lover.  My family always had a dog and I longed for my boys to have that same experience.  There is something special about a dog...unconditional love, entertainment, snuggling buddy, and the list goes on and on.  Brad, however, isn't as fond of dogs as I am.  Don't get me wrong, he likes dogs...just not in the house.  Really?  Why have a dog if they aren't around to love and snuggle with?  I can't imagine having an outside dog.  You can see the source of conflict for us.  {snicker}  I got really creative with my persuasive remarks..."The boys will learn responsibility" or "We will be safer when you are gone if there is a dog to bark at an unwelcome guest"  or "Your wife will be so happy to have a dog.  Happy wife - Happy life!"  or even  "You are getting a PhD, surely we can have a dog."  Finally, he gave in.  He loves me so.  {grin}

In the spring of last year, I began to research dogs.  We needed a low-allergen, non-shedding dog (one of our boys has a very mild dog allergy...our allergist gave us her blessing for such a dog).  We also needed a dog who was large enough to not be trampled by our herd of children, and small enough to not knock the children over.  To further add to the complexities of finding a dog...we knew that we didn't have time for training a puppy.  My dad was very ill and I was traveling to care for him each weekend.  It was getting tricky...what sort of dog would be right for our family?  I began to pray that God would provide just what we needed and I was confident that He would.  I was even bold enough to pray about where our dog would come from and what sort of training it would have.

Several years ago, I had seen a documentary about a "mutual rehabilitation" program in a prison.  The inmates were assigned a dog that had been rescued from a shelter.  The dog would remain with the inmate 24/7.  The dogs received amazing training (some were even trained to be assistance dogs for folks with disabilities) and the inmates learned a skill (dog training - some even became certified) and more importantly, they learned to be loved and to love.  I thought it was an amazing program - a creative way to "reshape" someones heart to love again.  Maybe those inmates would be open to God's love once their hearts had been softened? 

I searched the website often and continued to pray daily.  I made a few calls about some dogs...nothing seemed to "fit" or "feel right."  Until, I found a dog named "Rocky."  He was a schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix) with a unique looking gray/black/silver curly coat,  he was medium sized, and he was about two years old.  Things got even more exciting when I learned that he had been posted to the website by "Second Chances Canine Program" - you guessed it, a mutual rehabilitation program at a prison about an hour from our home. 

I called to ask about Rocky and the lady I spoke to seemed to think he would be a perfect fit for our family.  We made an appointment for Brad and I to go meet him.  Later that week, we drove up the tree-lined drive of the prison campus (formerly a small private Christian college), we stopped at a small building where an employee searched our car.  It's worth noting that Brad and I warned her that we weren't responsible for any goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, or sippy cups she encountered.  You never know what is lurking in the back of a mini-van.  {snort}   She found nothing of interest and then pointed us in the direction of a large brick building with a cross on the side.  It sounds silly, but the image of that cross was somehow comforting to affirmation that God was doing something. 

We entered the building and made our way through the metal detectors and showed someone our ID.  Once we were cleared, we went straight ahead into a small gymnasium...and the inmate, the program director, and our dog were waiting for us.  They greeted us warmly and told us a little about Rocky.  We asked questions about Rocky's training.  The inmate answered with great was like an encounter with the "dog whisperer" - he was loaded with knowledge about dog obedience.  Brad and I told him how impressed we were...and he beamed.  The program director grinned with pride and told us that the inmate had just received some special dog training certification and would be awarded a framed copy the next day.  The change in this man's life was obvious by looking at the "intake"photo on his prison ID.  His shoulders slouched, his posture was "down", he looked hard, angry, and unhappy.  The man standing in front of us was grinning, standing tall,  making eye contact, answering questions, telling us about his future.  He was full of hope.  We shared a little bit about our family and our faith and then wished him well and encouraged him to make his freedom "lasting" when he was released the following spring. 

Brad and I chatted about our experience the entire ride home.  We both agreed that it was the most "Christ-like" experience we've ever had in a secular environment.  Amazing. 

Oh yeah, we also adopted an amazing dog.  He is perfect for our family in every way.  The boys and I adore him...and because Brad loves us, he is tolerating Rocky.  {grin}

Matthew and Luke loving on Rocky

Rocky and Matthew...not long after Rocky got a haircut.

Rocky snoozing on his bed.  We love his soft, curly coat.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I have been thinking about the ol' family blog lately...and realizing that it's been largely silent for months now.  I guess that grief has been a quiet and personal journey for me.  Maybe I am also aware of that fact that no one reads my blog now that my mom is in Heaven!  {grin - although, I think my friends Sarah and Jodi read from time to time}  Then I remembered that this blog is for me, to record the seasons of my family life, to have a permanent memory available when my own fails me.  So, I am back at it.  I am going to do my best to blog weekly, even if it's about the ridiculous or mundane, I will blog.  I just need to get back in the, I will begin slowly and stretch those "bloggy" muscles at least once a week.

While the blog has been silent, our house has certainly not!  Most days, it's a loud and lovely flurry of activity around here.  Our boys are stature and in faith.  They consume more food than I ever thought humanly possible for someone their size.  Brad is plugging along in his PhD program - set to finish his classroom portion this May.  Oh happy day!  {grin}  Then, he will move on to the comprehensive exams...sounds like torture to me.  He spends his days with Dr. Witherington and I spend my days with Dr. Suess...and then we spend out evenings together.'s a good life.  I am super proud of Brad's hard work as a student and equally proud of his work as an instructor.  He works diligently to teach and serve his students.  It's a ministry for sure, and Brad has been faithful in it.

I will be making a mad dash to Indiana tomorrow to spend the day going through some of my parent's things.  I am praying that it will be comforting to be surrounded by memories of them.  However, I am also fully expecting it to be an incredibly emotional day, as well.  I miss them both.  It's overwhelming at times.  It's really strange, in fact.  I am an adult (a middle-aged adult even!  ACK!) and haven't depended on my parents to provide for me physically or financially in many years...but, their deaths have left me feeling "orphaned" in some way.  It sounds odd, I know.  Their deaths have changed the landcape of my extended family and the way we do life together.  We are figuring it out as we go along...and God continues to prove Himself faithful.  What a gift. 

So, I will do my best to remember that this blog is for me and my record our memories and God's goodness as we journey along.  However, if you happen to read - leave a comment so that I know I am not alone.