Meet ‘Twix’ – New Service Dog and Family Member

Hi everyone! Below are some “firsts” and an introduction to my new sweet “Twix”.

A big shout out of thanks to Canine Assistants, a fabulous organization that brings joy and life to many individuals and families!

During our week of camp ten of us who all had previous Canine Assistants were individually paired with several dogs. It’s amazing how the dogs “pick” their recipient!

Below: Twix and I meet on Monday, the first day of camp. Our class was all second and third time service dog recipients.

First meeting with Twix

Tuesday all the recipients were matched with their dog! We traveled to our hotels or our homes together for the first time!


Class continued through Saturday. Outings to restaurants and shopping areas acclimated us to each other.


TWIX the service dog

Our first family photo together!

Family Photo

Our first Saturday frolicking in the backyard – after class it was a great stress reliever! Doesn’t he look happy?

065 (2)

On our first Sunday together we went to Costco and Brent gave me this box of candy lest we forget his name! Twix came from the “Candy-themed” litter!


And then on Monday we went for a long walk in the cold weather, played in the backyard, then I fell out of my chair and broke my legs! It’s put a damper on some of our learning together but strengthened our bond and relationship.

Thank You Tahoe – The Life and Death of My Service Dog


 My heart is torn as I reflect on the life and death of my service dog, Tahoe.  A devoted family member full of cheer, comfort and amusement, he was a gift from God and no words can fully express the deep bond we shared.


Tahoe picked up my phone…again and again

As  a service dog he helped me with important tasks like picking up cash, keys or my phone and  the countless objects I frequently dropped!   His face lit up and paws pitter-pattered across the wood floor any time he heard something fall. Laughter, silliness and joy flowed as we threw rubbery indestructible ‘Kong’ toys for what seemed like hours each day.  Linked together, literally 24 x 7, we became part of each other.  We knew we were meant to be together the moment we met seven years ago.  After pairing with other potential canine companions ready for a forever home and forever companion, the search for the unquestionable ‘perfect match’ was over on that cool March day at Canine Assistants Recipient Training Camp. Tahoe nuzzled against my thigh and gently jumped on my lap and although we barely knew each other, our hearts solidly linked.


Saying hello. Moments after we met, we knew we were meant to be together.

After 13 years with Murray, my prior canine assistant,  I had no idea what was in store with Tahoe.

I didn’t know a creature could be so inherently sweet and outrageously affectionate, nor did I realize that not only would I need him, but he would need me and my husband desperately. He loved with passion and overtly needed safety and  acceptance.  He opened  his heart to everyone, but longed for our devoted, tight-knit family. Inspired by his transparent neediness and vulnerability, our hearts and our ministry grew.


First time in my van.

The immeasurable love exuded by Tahoe melted any hard heart. Attractive eyes, smile and soft fur made adventures with him purposeful. People lit up and opened hearts to Tahoe with just a glimpse.  Often children and adults asked to pet and visit with him for stress relief and comradery.  Hyper-sensitive to emotions, he knew how to comfort. On the flip-side, he showed  his emotional needs openly.

Perhaps we fostered his insecurities, but I believe they were part of what made him so special. He reminded me a bit of the character Adrian on the television show Monk. He was afraid of balloons, crowds, loud noises, anything hanging from the ceiling, thunder, loud trucks, rocking chairs and crowded aisles in a clothing store.   The Golden Labrador retriever was afraid of swimming when we first got him! We taught him to swim. Of course he loved it once he learned.  Despite all his quirks and undoubtedly because of them we had an incredible full life with him!


Tahoe loved travel to mountains of Colorado…

Bravely, he was happy to jump on a plane, go on long journeys in the van, ride the subway, stay in dozens of hotels, visit many camps and classes full of kids. His affection buzzed  as a dozen toddlers simultaneously touched him.

Memories of fun times with Tahoe live in our hearts, in photos and videos. One of my favorite trips with Tahoe was to the wonderful dog park in Amelia Island. Occasionally he enjoyed a run with the other dogs but he wasn’t interested in them – he wanted to play with us and his floating Kong in the doggie swimming pool.


A rainy downpour didn’t phase us as we admired Roosevelt and his pup in Washington DC.

I hate that his life had to end in a hospital room. There was beeping, barking and whining during his hospital stay.  He tolerated it like a champ. He felt so bad it broke our hearts. Every time we left him to let the caregivers tend to him we would return to a sad story of decline. For three days each time we gathered hopes we were stunned with nothing but negative news.

Tahoe laid quietly on the floor or on the gurney and seemed so peaceful – if you didn’t see his IV or his tired face his illness was invisible…he looked sleepy. Three days of medications and care led to decline after decline. One of the saddest,  bittersweet moments was when we got close to his face.  He made the effort to give us a peculiar kiss. We always laughed about his rough ‘cat-like’ tongue that could take skin off, but in the hospital, his kisses were soft and velvety, much like that of our former dogs, but not at all like our Tahoe. The muscles in his body from his paws to his tongue were declining each day.  Myasthenia Gravis ravaged his body with persistent progression.  This autoimmune disease caused his nerves and muscles to lose connectivity and showed no mercy other than it’s aggressive, short-lived suffering.

Late Sunday night, a week after symptoms started and three days after our hospital admission, we realized we did not want him to suffer any longer when were asked to leave while they cleaned him and he needed resuscitation as he choked during the process. We wished we had been there to comfort him.  He was a trooper, never whiny, just obviously sad and confused.  He knew something was very wrong.


Goodbye Tahoe – minister, friend, companion, helper, ambassador, comedian, family, playmate, comforter. We love you.

We spent our last hours together cuddling and talking to him and loving on him and telling him how uniquely special he was to us. We cried and cried some more – he even licked our tears with his soft tongue.  Then we said our final goodbyes.  He was so peaceful. He looked so perfect, innocent and loving.


‘If you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion – I second that emotion.’ Thank you Jesus, for such a faithful and kind friend.

We are forever thankful for seven wonderful years with Tahoe.  It’s been over three months since he died and as we prepare for a new young service dog full of life and energy, we continue to grieve in the most healthy ways we know.  Nervous and excited we anticipate a new family member.
No pup will ever replace our precious Tahoe and will certainly have big paws to fill, but we have hearts full of love to share with a new forever furry friend.
We love and honor our Tahoe.  Our heart aches in his absence. Shortly, our home will hear the pitter-patter of paws again. I think we’re ready… I hope we’re ready.


Advent Reflections: Christmas Season Daily Devotions

It’s with gratitude we offer the Wisdom and Faith Advent Reflections: Christmas Season Daily Devotions book.  Thanksgiving travel and preparations are underway and it’s time for seasonal focus on our coming King!  When I was a child we celebrated Advent faithfully during the four weeks before Christmas!  I can’t say I grasped the reason for the observance, nor did I focus on the coming of Christ. During most of my adult years we have not attended a church that lights Advent candles.

This devotional has:
– 4 full weeks of devotions
– is appropriate for any year (Christmas Day falls of varied days of the week)
– is an Advent devotional and (or) a Christmas devotional.

Over the last decade I increasingly yearned to see my Christmas season focus more intentionally toward Jesus. My heart stirred me to reevaluate traditions in our home.

The season…
…brings family together and grows relationships
…reminds us what giving really looks like
…shouts for more hope and joy
…is sacred, peaceful and inspiring.

We’d be honored if you join our family as we rejoice in Christ and his unfailing love to us and through us. If you observe the advent tradition at your church, try adding your own personal or family time to help clarify the focus in your home. If you haven’t done this before, maybe this year is an advent year (or a special ‘Christ-centered year) for you. If you choose not to light candles, enjoy the devotional during your Christmas season.

Get your devotional today!

What traditions does your family observe to point the season to Christ?


Gluten Free Squash Casserole

My love for squash casserole goes back to my childhood days when my grandmother made southern style casserole topped with breadcrumbs or Ritz crackers. Celiac disease and gluten free living for several years sent us to squash roasted in the oven or cooked lightly on the stove. And we eat a lot of squash!

Because we were a bit tired of “plain” squash, this recipe for gluten free squash casserole saved the day!


Here’s how we did it:


6 cups fresh zucchini and/or yellow squash cut and chopped

1/2 to 1 medium onion – chopped

2 eggs (optional)

3/4 cups greek yogurt (we made our own SCD yogurt)

1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 can water chestnuts – chopped (optional)

3 slices gluten free bread

2 Tablespoons butter


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Place chopped squash and onion in pot.
  • Add 2 cups water to the pot
  • Cook squash and onion on medium for 20-30 minutes or until soft
  • Drain squash in a colander and move to large bowl
  • Mix in sour cream, yogurt, 1 cup of cheese, and eggs
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Spray 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray
  • Pour mixture into baking dish
  • Top with gluten free croutons (optional)
  • Top with 1/2 cup cheese
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350

Gluten Free Crouton Topping:**

  • Cut bread into small cubes
  • Melt butter in a saucepan
  • Add bread cubes to saucepan and cook until toasted.

** We avoid bread and often top this casserole with only cheese.

*  We haven’t tried it yet but think chopped water chestnuts would be a nice addition to this recipe.  What do you think?

If you are looking for variety for your squash or just want a squash casserole – this might be the recipe for you.