Summer 2024

Desperately Seeking Squirrels

By Awara Fernandez

When we bought our dogs years ago, we sought out a reputable breeder in a good faith attempt to not support puppy mills. We made a day trip of it, and drove a couple of hours to her house, where we knocked on her door. It would be a cliche to say that “a little old lady” opened the door, yet it would also be true. She invited us into her living room, where she kept a dozen playpens full of bouncing, churning, yapping swirls of white, as if a cotton candy machine had gone rogue and was spitting out balls of fluff. Raising our voices over the din, we asked to see the Bichon Frise we had come to add to our family. The breeder slowly bent down, her white hair disappearing for a moment into the swirling litter, before she stood up, producing, like a magic trick, a tiny rabbit, no wait, a tiny puppy, that was, she told us, the last she had of that kind, the runt of the litter that nobody wanted, and, hey, if we would buy him, she would throw in, for half-price, another puppy which was the result of her ongoing and, so far, unsatisfactory, attempts to mix a Maltese with a Bichon. 

Dr. Hugh Ross (astronomer and founder of Reasons to Believe) teaches that there is a class of soulish creatures, in the sense that having a soul means having a mind or personality, which is different from a spirit in need of regeneration. Dr. Ross believes that dogs are in that class, and I have always agreed with him, even though our BOGO dogs, Sam and Lumpy, have a pretty flat learning curve. 

For instance, one of their favorite activities is chasing squirrels, and it goes something like this. The dogs spot a squirrel. The dogs run to the squirrel, barking frantically so that the squirrel knows to run up a tree. Then, the dogs circle the tree while the squirrel, back feet gripping the tree trunk, dangles mere inches from the dogs’ heads. Inches. But, the dogs never, ever, look up. Ever. After a few laps around the tree, the dogs trot back inside our house, and the squirrel comes back down into the yard. Rinse. Repeat.

One day, after years of this game, who knows why, maybe he stumbled, but Lumpy happened to look up during the chase, and what he saw froze him in his tracks. He stood there trembling as his processor loaded the new data into his system. You could almost see the “loading, loading” symbol circling. What was the new information?

There. Is. An. Up.

An UP!

Most of the time I live like Sam and Lumpy. I am so focused on the horizontal that I miss the vertical. This is natural for those of us here “under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes). But, I long to be super-natural. I long to live at the intersection of the horizontal and the vertical, where horizontal things, like the squirrels, draw my attention up. I want to join C. S. Lewis, in chasing every sun-beam back to the Son. 

Recently my daughter and son-in-law bought a Border Collie puppy and named her Addie. One day, when Addie was a few months old, I watched her quietly sitting out in the yard while her eyes gracefully traced the passage of migrating geese in the sky. She saw the UP.

As I age, I am experiencing more and more symptoms of adult onset ADHD, inherited from my children and our distraction-hungry culture. In fact, this condition is now so common that it is sometimes referred to as “Attention Deficit Oh, Squirrel!” Now, if I can just chase that squirrel UP . . .

About the Author

For Awara Fernandez, Christmas has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”, and she enjoys it even more now as Nana to her 7 grandchildren! You can find more of her writing at,, and coming soon to and