A puppy is a puppy is a puppy.
He’s probably in a basket with a bunch
of other puppies.
Then he’s a little older and he’s nothing
but a bundle of longing.
He doesn’t even understand it.
Then someone picks him up and says,
“I want this one.”
And so it was a few weeks ago when a friend who owns a no-kill animal shelter invited us to look at a dog he thought fit us perfectly. It has been nearly one year since we let go of Finn, our beloved spaniel, and I had been totally unable to fill the void. Even Sister Helen commented several times a day how much she missed the little tyrant’s mischievous ways and I simply could not find meaning in the diurnal routine that a dog now wrenched from us and laid to rest, had provided. I had given away all his belongings thinking we’ll never get another dog, the usual excuses embedding themselves so as to convince me I was doing the right thing. Perhaps some of you have uttered those same excuses and then somewhere down the road, maybe on a walk or in a hospital or simply meeting a friend in the park you come across a creature so engaging and friendly that you were stopped in your tracks. It was a dog, domesticated from his ancestors to approach us, to wag a tail and enthusiastically say hello. And then it’s off to the job of walking or consoling or being a companion and you simply know. Yes, I needed a dog.
I found her at the shelter cowered in a cage, a little ball of white fur nursing the post-op spaying and additional treatment for an umbilical cord hernia. She was also undernourished. A miniature white poodle/Maltese mix. I will never forget the picture. Later that night we took a vote and the little dog who made it from Georgia to Ohio to the shelter was going to be our girl! (We did have to win over Sister Anita but it was so easy that Anita even brought her home.) I have to add that Anita works with the attorney who also owns the shelter.
We named her Lily for her totally white coat. She is a ball of energy even as a six year old dog. It is a delight to see her playing (I’m her play partner) and walking in our woods as if she now owns them. She is swift, agile, acrobatic, and she belies her senior status. She has brought amazing joy to the household. I love hearing the thumping of her paws as she runs up and down stairs. I love walking/running with her in the park. I love that she checks on each of us at night before she settles in her bed in my room. I even love that she secretly steals Sister Helen’s shoes or Sister Anita’s slippers and deposits them in her bed – a result of ‘puppy fantasy’ says the vet, because she is an older female who has been spayed. Oh my! Hormones abound. But she is ours! She has found her forever home.
In one of her essays in Dog Songs, poet Mary Oliver tells the story of a dog who showed up in her yard with a remnant of a chewed off rope around his neck. He becomes a permanent resident of her home after she unties the rope. Dogs can teach us so many things if we are open and if we watch them carefully. When I re-read this essay I thought of Lily’s new found freedom and love with us. She will honor it as long as we give her freedom. Oliver’s last line of the essay is “…maybe it’s the wonderful things that may happen if you break the ropes that are holding you.” p. 45, Dog Songs. Lily is teaching me during this time of Covid: What are the ropes holding me back from anything?
To all of you, my known readers, and my anonymous angels: What are the ropes holding you back from acceptance of faith, from acceptance of others, from going forward to embrace the freedom you desire in your soul? Maybe even acceptance of restrictions of this dreaded virus. Why hold back? Why not break free of the ego and listen to others who are specialists and place yourself in the trust of their expertise as did Lily one fine day a few weeks ago?Let’s reflect on this for the coming week. I pray for your openness to this question…What are the ropes holding me back? Untie them!!!