Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Frankie and The Wheeler Byrd

The Wheeler Byrd
My daughter Alicia and I visited this awesome shop in Joplin this past weekend and as we browsed through the magnificent displays we noticed that someone had left a door open to a small utility room. I stopped immediately, no longer interested in any of the beautiful wares they were selling, but instead found myself snooping as unobtrusively as I could at what lay behind that open door. I didn't go in, of course, but both Alicia and I peeked inside. There was a ridiculously big water heater and a few plastic shelves with odds-and-ends cleaning supplies. That's all. Why, we asked one another, was that so interesting?

I don't know the answer. But I've been a snooper of private places in stores anytime I've had the chance since I was a little girl. Back then, people bought their groceries at either Kroger or Hillcrest Big Star. Today, decades and decades later, I can perfectly visualize their stock rooms because you had to go through them to access the bathrooms. As a kid, I thought those areas were fascinating. I liked running as quickly and silently as I could on the sleek concrete floors in those long cool stock rooms and exiting out a different door than the one I had entered. I was never caught... or more likely, no one really cared what I was doing... but I felt adventurous and wild and free back there in that forbidden place.
These days, here at The Frame Shop, we have more space as private work area than we have as gallery. It just seems to me that it takes a dadgum lot of space to make a frame -- but I love it so much. Now that we've moved to our own little building our work space is pretty personal and organized to how we like to work and to what we like to do. 
The back room where I spend a lot of my time is decorated with green walls and pink curtains, magnificently framed fairy tale book pages, a rocker-lounger (for when I'm near death but still have to work!), a little television for my grandchildren, and two little dog beds.
Yes. Two little dog beds.
Frankie and Lucy, my little wiener dogs, have come to work with me at various times for several years and while Lucy always behaved better than Frankie, she finally became so frail and disoriented that she couldn't come anymore. We lost our little Lucy a month-and-a-half ago at age 16 years and 9 months. She was beloved and is dearly missed.
After we lost Lucy, our Frankie was really distressed and sad. We decided he should just come to work with me every day and he did. His behavior while he was at work was fairly good (although he really likes to bark at the neighborhood -- I'm so sorry, dear neighbors) and he would be pretty happy all day, but as soon as we'd get home, his ears would go flat and he would be sad again. He missed Lucy.
Wheeler, interrupting work (again)
So here came The Wheeler Byrd. 

And what is The Wheeler Byrd, you might ask?

This is The Wheeler Byrd.

He's just a little past six weeks and he is Frankie's new wiener dog puppy.

Now, bringing The Wheeler Byrd to work everyday along with Frankie has been an adventure.  He's really little but I can already tell he's going to be a porker if something doesn't change. This wiener dog eats, runs all over the back yard chasing Frankie as he makes his rounds and searches for squirrels and rabbits, then he collapses alongside Frankie into their little beds where they sleep like there's no tomorrow. An hour or so later, they repeat the cycle.
Frankie has his morning routine down so well that when I leave for work at The Frame Shop now it's really  difficult to leave the house without him. He is excellent company, but this Wheeler Byrd...

When I got Lucy all those hundreds of years ago, I was still working at Rolla Public Schools as the Board Secretary. Sometimes, after a board meeting, I would stay home the following day in order to complete the minutes from the meeting in as timely a manner as possible. I would sit at our old wooden school teacher's desk and write but before I ever started, I would prop up the girls' bean bag chairs one on top of the other then lift Lucy into the little trough they formed, right beside me. She would snooze there. Excellent, excellent company.

The Wheeler Byrd doing wiener dog work
We see all kinds of people in this little shop. Sometimes they are lonely. Sometimes they are stressed beyond what they can bear up under. Sometimes they are filled with worry about many things. Sometimes they are bringing things for me to frame that is a wound to their hearts because they have endured unimaginable loss.

Of course, having a little dog as a companion doesn't solve any of their problems. But when these customers leave, I sometimes come to this back room and see Frankie and Wheeler doing whatever doggy-things they are doing and I think maybe they know something we haven't learned. 
Although they may feel sad sometimes like Frankie did at the loss of his companion, Lucy... and although I know they feel afraid sometimes like Wheeler does when he hears someone operate a chainsaw or I shatter a piece of old glass so it will fit into the trash bin... and although I know they feel stressed sometimes (like when I'm eating a bologna sandwich and not giving any to them)... they also know how to recover and live in the moment. I don't know how to do that. When I can't get my work done, I worry and sometimes can't even figure out what I need to do first because I'm too busy acting like a fool because I have too much to do. If I encounter someone who is a little rude or terse, I can't stop thinking about it and sort of -- and this doesn't even make sense -- worrying about it. Why am I dumber than a dog?

These little wiener dogs are innocent, I suppose. Although I don't know that humans will ever be restored to an innocent state as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden (I'm thinking that ship sailed and we can't undo the partaking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), I believe God will make all things new and relieve us of the anxiety, worry, care, stress and sadness that plagues this life. While our precious little animals still have to endure these emotions because they do live in this fallen world with us, they are still innocent and so they aren't tormented by these emotions like we are.

I think we weren't really designed to live like this or in this type of day-in and day-out stressful world. We were designed to be awesome in an awesome place. But until then, I would recommend everyone consider  getting their own versions of a Frankie and a Wheeler Byrd. Because it gives a person perspective. It gives a person laughter. It gives a person a really cool looking dog. And most of all, it gives a person hope.