Ode to the little dog who has seen me through quite a lot

{Okay, so this isn’t technically an ode but it IS something I wrote in honor of this little buddy I got 4 years ago on the eve of February 13th.}

 

dino heart

 

At the shelter he greeted me with a cheerful hello.

 

I went in search of a big dog that night but something inside me said, this little one might be just right.

 

So I took a leap of faith and decided to bring him home.  Out in the parking lot about to head home, he shot out into the darkness, giving everyone a scare.  We feared the adventure might have been over before it had even begun.  Thankfully, a volunteer from the shelter helped put an end to the excitement, getting him safely back into the car.  And we were off!

 

By the next day, I found myself sobbing.  I wondered if I’d made a big mistake.  After losing my dad and my childhood Labrador, Maize, I learned the hard way that having a new dog wasn’t going to fill all that empty space in my heart.  I missed my Maize dog.  She was the one who had seen me through so much.  And somehow, this new dog made me miss her even more.  After all, he was little and looked quite different.  But most of all, he was simply a dog I didn’t know.

 

My mom wisely said to give it some time.  That one day, before I knew it, I’d be talking about how much this new little dog had seen me through.

 

And she was right.  As my mom often is.

 

Now here I am, four years later, and already I can’t believe how much I’ve endured with this little dog by my side.  It is hard to imagine that not so long ago, as I was inspired to trust that we’d grow together in time, we started a fresh beginning, just a girl and her dog.

 

In that first year, we took training classes and practiced tricks.  Sitting and staying, heeling and shaking.  He thrived.  He loved playing this game called Learning New Things where the rewards were dispensed as tasty bits of treats.  This motivation led him to become the star of each class.  And like a proud parent, I beamed as he passed all of his tests.

 

We sat outside at local coffee shops and walked down the street.  With infectious enthusiasm, he’d greet each person who passed by, showing love to business women, homeless men, and children all the same.  Well, actually, he always has the most excitement the second he sees kids are near!

 

He helped me make the transition to teaching first grade.  He’d greet me with excitement each day when I came home happily exhausted.  And then snuggle next to me at night as I did my final bit of planning for the following day.

 

The following year, when the exhaustion felt more bitter than satisfying, he reminded me of how wonderful the simple things in life could be.  His presence alone brought me a huge sense of joy.

 

Going for walks in the park, he was lively as could be.  Always curious, sniffing things out, and looking for new places to explore.

 

And I have to admit he was daring enough to take off on a handful of adventures on his own.  Once, bounding through the greenery of the hills, out of sight and without a sound, I had no way to find him.  I didn’t know what to do so I had to let go and hope he’d decide to come back on his own.  Which he did.  The second I turned around to walk home.

 

And the following year when the strike of illness left me unable to move from my bed, he remained by my side, letting out a whimper-slash-whine to say he wished I could get up and play.

 

Still he brings me comfort as he curls up on my lap.  Soothing my heart and my mind as I pet his downy soft fur.

 

He hogs my bed during nap time and carefully watches the floor when I eat.  He listens intently when I speak and tilts his head, trying to piece together what I say.  He climbs on my lap and sticks his cold nose in my face.  And when he wags his tail with excitement, his whole body wiggles.

 

He makes me laugh every day and keeps me entertained with an endless array of adorable expressions.  And then there are the moments when I see him all stretch out or all curled up, that a single glance at his resting face makes me breathe a little deeper and gives me an infinite sense of peace.

 

And in those rare but comical moments when he starts to bug me, I ask if he wants me to send him to live with the circus.  Seriously, he’d do quite well there with his repertoire of tricks!  He can crawl like an army cadet, give you ten up high like a sports fan, and run to you from across the room, flipping his body around in an instant to be right at your side, facing the same direction as you.

 

All jokes and tricks aside, deep down I love that each day I get to live my life with this ever loyal and loving little dog by my side.

 

My pup.  My pal.  My prince.

 

It just took a little time.

 

What do you love about your pet(s)?  What have they helped see your through in your life?  I’d love to know!  Send me an e-mail or comment over on the Facebook page!

 

Oh, and here’s Dino wearing a pink bow on Valentine’s Day so I could snap a quick photo!

 

dino pink bow

 

 

Step Back so the Door Can Open

wait you want me to take a step back

 

One morning last week I got out of bed to discover my Dino dog stretched out on the floor in front of the door, staring at it with great anticipation of getting to the other side.  His chin rested on top of his furry paws so his cute little nose was so close to the door that there wasn’t space for it to open.

He didn’t move when I grabbed the door nob to open the door so I motioned to him and heard myself say, “you have to back up so I can get the door open for you.”  The moment the words left my mouth I smiled, and almost laughed, at the clarity that so magically formed in  my mind.  And I went on smiling, muttering to myself, “you have to back up, sometimes you have to step back.”

Sometimes you must take a few steps back in order to get where you want to go.

Who would ever guess that such a silly, everyday moment of opening the bedroom door for my dog could create such a genuine epiphany!  For that brief bit, life felt so beautiful and full of possibility as I pondered this idea that taking a step back doesn’t have to be something negative.  It doesn’t mean you’re behind.  It doesn’t mean you’re giving up.  It doesn’t mean you’ve dropped out of the game.  And it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t still get to go where you want to go or perhaps get to go somewhere even more incredible than you could have hoped or imagined.

As I thought about my time spent with this illness and the ways it may actually help me get where I want to go, I marveled at the deeper level of peace that I’ve only come to experience because of the way calm, quiet, and the ability to focus on one moment at a time have become necessary for my very survival.

The feeling of peace never seems to last forever, especially when new challenges get plopped down atop of the heaping pile of things that already felt hard enough, making the new challenges feel downright insurmountable.

But I love knowing that this feeling of possibility is always there for me to return to when I’m ready; the invitation to trust that this time spent hanging back, learning to live with pain, uncertainty, and limitations, and being steeped in peace and love, will create the space for a door to open…

A door that will be just the one I want to step through when the time is right.

 

Thankful Thursday: This Little Dog

As I finish making my coffee (half-caff), I head over to sit in the navy chair that feels like home when I notice this little guy soaking up some sunshine out on the balcony.

I’m thankful for the way this makes me smile.

And I’m thankful for the way he convinces me to forgo my usual spot to sit next to him and get some fresh air.

Today I am thankful for this little dog, my one and only Dino.