Saturday, March 15, 2014


'Thank God we can't tell the future. We'd never get out of bed.”
- Tracy Letts, August Osage County.

Otto is an old dachshund whose story went viral last week. It’s a sad tale, but with a happy ending:

“A 13-year-old Dachshund will be reunited with his owners after the elderly couple left him tied up outside a California animal shelter, with a heartbreaking note attached saying they were too sick and poor to cover the dog's medical expenses.

The dog, named Otto, was found outside of the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter near Los Angeles with a hand-written note asking that he be put to sleep because his owners could not afford to care for him, Yahoo News reported.

The note reads, "Our dog is 13 1/2 years old he is sick starting yesterday with bloody stools, vomiting," according to the website. "Had a skin disease for a few years. We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep."

Workers at the shelter reportedly notified Leave No Paws Behind, Inc., a foster-based rescue operation that specializes in seniors. Yahoo News reported that when Otto was later examined by a veterinarian, it was determined that his condition could be treated and that he likely had more years in which to live.
The rescue group reached out to the dog's owners -- after it was clear the Dachshund had been well taken care of -- to reunite the pooch with the couple.”

I was glad to hear that Otto was rescued, treated and will return to his elderly owners. Sounds like he might even outlive them. Otto dodged a bullet. (Perhaps quite literally if his owners had been Texans.) But it does beg the question, when is it time to put down an old dog? One of ours, Dillon, is 15 years old and he’s still hanging in there. We also have a 5 year old dog, Boudreaux, who pesters Dillon and keeps him active. But the old dog is reaching the end of the line. Dillon has lost about half of his teeth, does not see well, his hearing is about gone and arthritis has taken a toll on his hips and legs. He wakes us up early (real early) every morning and when we don’t wake up or get up he stumbles off into the bathroom to use the tile floor as he still recalls the scolding he got once upon a time for going on the carpet. We don’t like cleaning up his mess in the bathroom, but what are you going do? Whack old Dillon with a newspaper for being old? Even Boudreaux seems to understand that his old friend and mentor can’t help it.

My wife says we need to get a pup and start breaking him in so Boudreaux won’t be alone when Dillon is gone. I say that I’m not sure I want to start up with another dog. The actuarial tables say that I would most likely outlive another dog. But what happens when Boudreaux is gone. Do we get another pup so the surviving dog doesn’t get lonely in his old age? At some point, the oldest dog becomes the last dog and I’d just as soon not leave one behind when I check out.

Thinking about when should a dog’s life end always brings me to the controversial subject of when should a person’s life end. First off, animals and humans are different. God did not make animals in his own image. So we are special and sacred. Therefore, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to the pro-life/abortion discussion. But, I tend to lean to “the left” when it comes to “end of life” issues. When people say that it’s up to God to decide when a person’s life should come to an end, I am inclined to agree with them. But when they go on to argue that it’s our duty to do everything to keep people alive for as long as possible, I must respectfully disagree. There is that “quality of life” conundrum. Who gets to say when the quality of a person’s life is so bad that it’s time to pull the plug? And there’s the other side of the question, who gets to say when the quality of a person’s life is so bad that you “plug” them into some device in the first place? Can we have it both ways? Can we accept that God says when we die, but we say how long, as well as "how" we live even after all indications are that God has said it’s time to die?

There is no one right answer for every person and every situation. I know that I do not want to be dumped off at the county hospital someday with a note on my ‘jammies saying that I’m too old and sick to take care of anymore. Especially, if like old Otto, I have a few more good years left in me. At this point, I plan on using Dillon’s tile floor standard . As long as I’m not making a mess on the carpet, I say life is worth living.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Why did Allen, Texas build a $60M football stadium? Simple answer…BECAUSE THEY COULD. Why are people all over the nation, including many in Texas, now cracking up over the news that Eagle Stadium is…wait for it…cracking up? Simple answer…HUMAN NATURE.

When it comes to spending money on sports and entertainment; and make no mistake, Texas High School Football is big-time entertainment in these parts; Americans in particular are willing to spend money. Their own as well as that of the taxpayers. Just the tax exemptions alone on municipal bonds issued for the building of sports complexes cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $150M per year. The city of Arlington TX borrowed over $300M via tax-exempt bonds to help Jerry Jones build the Cowboys’ new stadium. And it is turning out to be a good deal for Arlington. The stadium is constantly in use for sports and entertainment venues (most of them, oh by the way, vastly superior to Cowboy games) and the economic impact on the city of Arlington is huge.

Allen, TX envisioned a similar outcome from their investment. It’s not just about high school football. It’s about other sporting events, concerts and revivals (don’t forget, this is the Bible belt.). For the time being, those cracks in the stadium are a minor setback and probably brought about by the hand of God to teach a lesson in humility to the folks in Allen.

But the bigger question for all of us is how much money should we spend on sports and entertainment? What do our tax codes and our personal spending habits say about our priorities. How do we spend our time? I promise you that aside from work, I spend more time watching, reading and talking about sports than anything else. At the end of the day, most Americans must admit that they are more interested in sports and entertainment than they are in the health, education and welfare of themselves or the fellow citizens. We won’t take the time to vote, go to church, help someone in need or even just read a book; but we will find the time to watch American Idol or our favorite sport. So don’t feel too smug about the cracks in Eagle Stadium. We’re all standing on shaky ground.