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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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/