On the Right Dog, Appreciatively

The Wrong Dog – New York Times 

We got Acorn when he was 4.5 months old. He was already broken – scared, shy, hesitant. Whatever had happened to him before we got him was enough damage to last a lifetime. Even now, a year and some days after we brought him home from Mississippi, he cowers every time he goes in or out of the back door; he remains terrified of wood/linoleum/tile floors; he begs for attention constantly. He’s the same nervous baby nugget we brought home with us, cowering, terrified, alone. He’s a beta, through and through. (Nothing wrong with that, of course.)1

I’m so very happy that our rescue situation worked out for us – he definitely needed a lot of love and discipline, but at his core, he’s the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. Trouble, definitely, but the best kind. I’m so grateful that he found us and that he’s melded so well into our lives. I feel for people who’ve loved and had to let go of dogs who just aren’t a good fit. I know it’s hard and horrible, and I respect the choice to let them go. I hate it (for both human and dog) but I know that sometimes, it’s the only option. (It also helps that Acorn had probably never seen a cat – or been inclined to attack anything – our cat Carlos hates him, but they’ve come to tolerate each other – when Acorn isn’t trying to eat the cat’s wet food.)

Our dog needed so much love to bring him into the confident dog he is today. He’s bad, but only when he hasn’t been walked enough. Case in point: the last three days. No walks = chewed up papers all over the house, chewed up trash in the backyard, catching him in the alley in the morning after I’ve let him out.

He doesn’t run though. Our yard is open, and we live on a busy street. He hangs out in the backyard, and every now and then we’ll find him in the front yard, lounging, or the alley, where, when called, he’ll guiltily sneak back through the gate like he hasn’t been gone. He doesn’t even approach the post man. He knows we’re his family. He begs for our attention, which I hate, but tolerate since I understand how much of it we had to give him in the beginning to earn his trust.

We couldn’t have been luckier. That post in the New York Times reminds me how lucky we are to have such a funny, expressive, adorable fur-child in our lives.

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On Hurt and Hope, intangibly

Hurting other people is something that I try never to do. Emphasis on try. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and through the hurt that I cause (regardless of intention), I hurt as well.

Sharing hurt is never pleasant. Suffering, regardless of cause, is painful but entirely unavoidable. A life well lived is full of moments of pure joy and pure pain, emotional and otherwise.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection. I’ve come up short. It’s hard to try to help someone hurting heal, particularly when the hurt they’re feeling is entirely your fault. It’s hard when you’re hurting, too.

But to keep at something simply to avoid suffering isn’t a wise course of action either. Sometimes the hurt is unavoidable. To be free and live the life I want, I must ensure that my needs are met. I must ensure that I am doing the very best I can to become the person that I so badly want to be, the best person that I can be.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

There are no words of solace, there are no words to soothe, to mend, to heal. The honest core of me and the apologies proffered are the best that I can do. And yet I still hurt because I know the hurt that I’ve caused isn’t easily mended.

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

Everyone has their own motivation in life, their own driving force. They carry with them their experiences and the wisdom that they’ve gained from those experiences, both failed and successful. Love and life are so similar, so miserable in their sorrows, but so miraculously wonderful when they work. And so very worth it.

Hope is the only thing that can drive healing. My hope for the best is guiding me right now; it’s the one thing I am entirely certain of. To hope is to be invigorated. That hope will drive away sorrow, or at least mitigate the dull numbness edged with daggers that circles the heart and threatens to overwhelm.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Moral of this story: Ugh, walking the path sucks, but you just have to keep on keepin’ on.