Tethered to My Heart

The True Value of LOVE

Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind. You’re tethered to another and you’re worried all the time. – Brandi Carlile (The Mother)

Having a dog is so alike and unlike having a child. A child grows steadily over the years – physically and mentally. Notice I didn’t add emotionally since children are born with all the emotions of an adult and the process of maturing is also the process of learning to manage those emotions.

Think about that the next time you see a child having a temper tantrum in the store. All the emotions of an adult and no idea how to express or manage them.

Dogs, on the other hand, grow very quickly and while most retain their puppiness for two or three years – they never grow beyond the cognitive abilities of a 2-year old child. Except really, really smart dogs who grow all the way up to a 2 ½-year old child’s mental ability.

Cleanup Pug
I Can Eatz?

I think puppiness is as close as a dog gets to a child’s sense of wonder. I remember trying to encourage that sense of wonder in my own children. Whether we were in the pediatrician’s office or the grocery store, I would carry them from object to object, so they could physically explore it. Framed art on the walls, fake plants in the corners, bags of carrots, bunches of celery.

As they grew older, we moved outdoors to parks, shopping malls, and petting zoos; and, of course, our own horses. The happiness and sheer joy as my children saw, touched, heard, and smelled new things was much the same as when a puppy explores its world.

Sliding boards and pygmy goats and new-born foals for my children. Sticks, stuffed animals, and children for my puppies.

Boston and Stuffed Animal
Boston Puppy with Stuffed Animal

Encouraging a sense of wonder was not without dangers, whether it was my son reaching out to touch a red-hot burner on the stove or the dreadful sound of a rattlesnake in the back yard after dark. Like the song says, Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind. You’re tethered to another and worried all the time.

In the case of the stove burner, I was there to snatch my son’s hand away. With the rattlesnake, I ran outside so fast that I was in the middle of the yard before realizing that I had no idea where that snake was. Anyway, both ended well. My son wasn’t burned; and, the snake was released back into the desert.

Puppy Rides

We child proof our homes for kids. We dog proof our homes for pups. We realize and accept the fact that their safety – sometimes their very lives – depend on us. We wake with a start when our child cries, or when our puppy whines, in the middle of the night – suddenly awake and vigilant – ready to do what is required, for as long as necessary.

New parents and new dog owners seldom get enough sleep. And we accept the responsibility that comes with it as the new normal.

We expect our children to have long, full, rich lives. To outlive us. With dogs, however, it’s different. We adopt or purchase a dog with full knowledge that, all things being equal, we will outlive our pet.

Best Friends

Valeska Bruzzi writes that, Living such a deep relationship with an animal is not for everyone….It is knowing that he would give you life without thinking for a second, and that you will have to learn to live life without him long before you are prepared for it. It is to have daily access to impermanence and to know that every passing day is not an extra day, it is one day less.

One day less. One day closer to when my heart will be torn apart by raw, unmitigated grief. When I lose a pet, I tell myself that next time, I must surely die. That I can’t feel this grief again and live. But I do.

And I know there will be a next time because there will always be another dog needing rescue. Another dog to tether my heart to.

That is the True Value of LOVE.

I’M THANKFUL FOR MY DOG. For all the paw prints on my floor, for all the slobbery kisses on my face, and for the fur on my clothes, FOR THERE WILL COME A DAY when there is too much room in my bed. – Uknown

~ George

EXTRA STUFF:

Benjamin, K. (n.d.). Where did your childlike wonder go? 7 steps to get it back in under an hour. Retrieved online from: http://happinessinternational.org/childlike-wonder-go-7-steps-get-back-hour/#sthash.bwoIiCbp.dpbs

Bland, K. (06 June 2017). Think like a kid – why childlike wonder is important. Retrieved online from: http://929thelake.com/think-like-a-kid-why-childlike-wonder-is-important/

Paleologos, M. (18 Oct 2014). A sense of wonder. Retrieved online from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-paleologos/a-sense-of-wonder_b_5686811.html

Wiest, B. (07 June 2013). 14 ways to keep childlike wonder alive in adulthood. Retrieved online from: https://thoughtcatalog.com/briannaewiest/2013/06/14-ways-to-keep-childlike-wonder-in-adulthood/

Baggage

The True Value of Second Chances

Now that I’m home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked in my warm new bed.

You’re New but I’m Tired. Can I Trust You?

I’d like to open my baggage
Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry –
So much to regret.

I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You; But, I Was Excited.

Hmm . . . Yes, there it is, right on the top
Let’s unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my leash hides Fear and Shame.

I’m So Afraid You Won’t Want Me Anymore.

As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave –
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.

I Didn’t Mean to Bite You; But, I Was Afraid.

I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn’t good enough – for they didn’t want me.

Waiting for Adoption in the Loneliest Place In the World

Will you add to my baggage?
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things –
And take me right back?

Table Chewing Millie
I Was Afraid You Would Never Come Back.

Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
To never repack?

Suitcase Stowaway
Please Help Me Unpack. I Want to Stay With You.

I pray that you do – I’m so tired you see,
But if I come with baggage –
Will you still want me?

Jailbird Auggie
Please Open My Door and Let Me Love You

Written by Evelynn Colbath

That’s the True Value of Second Chances

Wish I Knew You When

The True Value of Second Chances

I saw a Great Dane puppy today that made me think of you. Tall and gangly, boisterously romping and tromping through grass and shrubs and flower beds. Excited by everything, as if this puppy had suddenly sprung into existence; and, was experiencing life for the very first time!

Saved from http://www.dogtricktips.com/great-danes-information-and-facts/6/

Nothing about the Great Dane pup I saw was anything like you at all. It was all legs and tail and ears moving in several directions at the same time.

You are short, compact, and muscular. Its muzzle was long while you’re a card-carrying member of the Flat-Faced Dog Society. The Great Dane was still a puppy, whereas you’re a senior. Although still a puppy, it was already a big dog and getting bigger – did I mention how short you are?

What I want to believe is that what I saw today in that very large puppy is what you were like once, when you were young. When life, for you, was new. I love everything about you – except the illness that will take you away forever. Someday.

I love the adult you that I met six years ago. But, I wish I knew you when you were an innocent puppy – when life was new. Before you were given away by the person you loved and trusted. Before you were forcibly removed from the only home – the only life – you’d ever known.

Familiar sights, smells, tastes, and textures were gone forever – replaced by an unknown, scary place where even your food and bed were different. And mommy’s cats were gone. Mommy had lots of cats and you peed in the house so she wouldn’t forget about you. So she would remember to love you, too.

My Rocky Boy_070217

Then, we met. You were in a crate inside Choice Pet Market at Scottsdale Road and Shea Blvd, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Driving by, Ellen saw the Arizona Boston Terrier Rescue Adoption Event sign.

On impulse, we stopped and went in. I wasn’t even looking for another dog. We already had a Boston, a Boxer, and a Pug at home. When I saw you for the first time, I turned to Ellen and said: “That’s him! That’s my dog!” You sealed the deal by jumping onto my lap and licking my face.

I have to confess that I. Did. Not. Like your name. Rocky. Who names their dog Rocky?! Turns out a lot of people do. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that, in 2016, Rocky was the 6th most popular name for male dogs. I learned to tolerate it, and later actually like it – after The Beatles played Rocky Raccoon in my head for a few months.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0jwzCXYERls

Rocky, Rock, Rock Monster, Rock Star, Rocky Boy, Rocky the Rock Elliott. My good boy. My best boy. We’ve grown older together, you and I – you, a little faster than I. Six years ago, you were 3 ½ years old and still had a little puppy left in you. We ran, played, tugged and went exploring when we got sidetracked on our walks. We played in the snow in Denver, ran on the beach in Los Angeles, and panted in the heat in Phoenix.

Your enthusiasm and unbridled joy has never diminished. You love absolutely everything! You always start every walk tugging on your leash, like we’re embarking on the Greatest Adventure Ever!

When you started reaching the end of even short walks with a loose leash, breathless, and needing to be carried up the stairs, our vet at San Dimas Animal Hospital confirmed that you’re in Congestive Heart Failure.

How I hate that three-word death sentence. My grandmother – the one person I loved more than anyone else – died from congestive heart failure.

I know that you could live for years – just not the life we lived before. You don’t even know you’re sick.

Today, our walks are shorter and our rest times longer. Today, we sit together on the floor or stairs or sofa while I pet you and you lick me with more saliva than a Saint Bernard. Or, I talk to you while you look at me like you understand every word – and then lick me with more saliva than a Saint Bernard.

We don’t get to hike and the camera captures fewer action shots of you; but we always have each other. I think I’ll get one of those K9 Sport Sacks or some other backpack dog carrier and lug your 30# around on my back. He ain’t heavy, He’s my puppy!

So, when I saw a Great Dane puppy today acting as if every moment was the Greatest Adventure Ever! it made me think of you. I am jealous of everyone who knew you as the rambunctious, pocket-sized tornado that Boston Terrier puppies usually are.

Mostly, I found myself wishing that we had met sooner so we could have lived more and loved longer.

You’re a Good Boy, Rocky. You’re the Best Boy.

That’s the True Value of Second Chances

~ George

Hey, please feel free to share stories about your dog(s). I would love to hear from you!!

BTW, what was the most popular name for boy-type dogs in 2016? Find out here:

Kriss, R. (2016, December 5) These are the most popular dog names of 2016. Retrieved from:  http://www.akc.org/content/news/articles/popular-dog-names-2016/