Thursday, January 17, 2008

Energy To Give Away

I'm trying to type with a dog on my lap. A dog that keeps sticking its butt in my face. There. I put her down on the floor and so she sits there whining at me because her two favourite places are either on a lap or running around outside. All other options illicit a whine from her that goes on and on and on. She's like the energizer bunny without the off switch.

It wasn't my idea to get a house dog. But the process of getting one showed me in a new way how to work my program and reap the promises. Maybe one day that will no longer come as a surprise to me but for now it still does.

Dearest one is a dog person. I prefer cats although they make me sneeze and feel like I have a head cold 24/7.

Someone had a purebred registered pug to give away and dearest one answered the ad only to be put on a waiting list. Great, I thought. Someone else will get it first and I won't have to deal with the issue.

Saturday night I came home to find out dearest one's name had risen to the top of the waiting list so the dog was ours if we still wanted it. Great, I thought. And out tumbled all my reasons why I didn't want a house dog. Or at least not now and not this dog. Having a difference of opinion is fine and dandy but what took me by surprise was the intensity of anger that seeped through all my protests. Eventually I looked at dearest one and said, "Why can't I simply say - I don't want a house dog - or - A house dog would be very healing for you, go for it!" Eventually dearest one went to bed and I was left to contemplate where all the anger was coming from. First I wondered if I was simply buying into my mom's dyed in the wool attitude that if something isn't her idea then it's not a good idea. As I sat there I realized I'd dragged 25 years worth of resentments about other dogs we've had into this conversation about the new one. Carrying that baggage into the present totally wiped my ability to be present off the radar screen. One of the benefits these days is that I'm able to look at that and not get defensive all over again. I simply know I need to add those resentments to my 4th step inventory and get back to the present.

Dearest one was sleeping by the time I figured all this out so first thing the next morning I told him how I'd dragged 25 years worth of resentments into the conversation about the new dog. How I knew instinctively that this new little dog could be very healing for him and that while I really didn't want a house dog right now I was willing to set that aside for his sake.

What happened next was a profound moment of grace. Earnie Larsen says that surrender is the ultimate power trip. Phillip Yancey says that repentance is the doorway to grace.

Dearest one has been doing gut wrenching work in counseling. We both have issues with intimacy - and by that I mean - letting someone see into our soul. Letting the walls crumble enough to let the other person in.

I was laying in bed and dearest one was sitting on its edge beside me as we talked. In the midst of this conversation about resentments and dogs there was an exchange of stark vulnerability that left us both in tears. A moment of deep intimacy. What was my body language at that moment? I realized I was laying there with my arms splayed out above my head like a newborn baby does when they sleep.

After dearest one left the room I lay there looking at the sun streaming in the window feeling full of gratitude for what had just happened. At the end of the day when we talked about the best part of our day - both of us chose that conversation.

It even trumped bringing home the Energizer Bunny.

She's sleeping with her head nestled in the crook of my arm as I resort to typing with one finger.


daisymarie said...

Sounds like she might ultimately be healing for both of you! Enjoy!!

Heidi Renee said...

you have to post pictures please!

Anonymous said...

Aww, she loves you.

That's so wonderful about your morning conversation, Hope. True and deep healing for you both. Makes me a little teary thinking of it but they're happy tears for you guys.


Beth said...

This post made me cry. I'm so grateful for the chances we are giving to find healing, and to share grace.

That dog will come to represent something essential in your lives, together and separately.

So happy for you...and thankful to God.

Peter said...

Hope, I greatly appreciate where you're coming from and how you see this as a personal growth issue.

But as a dog human myself (no one "owns" a dog, trust me), I will say that in the whole business of getting a dog, unanimity and choice of a particular dog by the humans Up Front is terribly important. In other words, you both have to want a dog first and then the same dog--it really increases the odds of the situation being successful. If the situation isn't successful, the dog will be the one paying the price.

In other words, this isn't about your journey, although i can see how it might seem like it--it's about this dog's life, first and foremost. I'm very encouraged that you and pug-face seem to be getting on reasonably well right now. May it continue!

You have entered the life of a full-time parent once again. To meet pug-face's needs, you will have to walk her at least twice a day, with adequate cold-weather protection; the right amount and right kind of food provided (no human food), and Attention: plenty of it. You will need to learn about the nature of her particular breed, and will need to train pug-face so that you don't have a royal monster on your hands.

Obviously, your new pet (owner) seems to know how to make her needs known, which is good. Now, you will be involved in meeting those needs, because no one else can--welcome once again to total dependency of another being on you.

God's Abundant Grace, Hopester, and I have never wished that more fervently than now. :)

Hope said...

Thank you Peter for your words of advice and encouragement. It took until the end of the second day for me to see just how I was like a parent again in the life of this little dog. I can't say I'm totally thrilled about it but I'm willing to work on accepting it.

I take her on my mile and a half walk every day. She is 14 months old and her original owner trained dogs for the drug unit of a correctional institute. She seems quite well trained and for that I am grateful. She is leash trained and quite good about it. Also fully house trained.

Due to the experience of another friend who had a big vet bill after someone gave her little dog people food we won't be doing that. She definitely knows what the kitchen is though and so I wonder what her experience has been.

Yesterday the power was out for several hours and she was quite a comfort on my lap right about then.

Peter said...

Excellent! By the way, what have you named her? Bunny, by any chance?

ALso, pugs, like bulldogs and boxer dogs, are prone to breathing difficulties because their cute pushed-in snouts don't allow air in or out very efficiently. Something to watch. And--dogs are puppies until they are {gulp} around 4 human years old! Enjoy her puppyhood--it may seem to last forever! :)

Hope said...

She came with the name Neeka.

Peter said...

Very nice name. Of course, you have innocently renamed her Energizer Bunny (wonderfully descriptive!), it seems to me. Bunny for short...? {mischievous grin}

Sue said...

she's likely so clingy because she is breaking in to a new home, and after a while of love and attention she will find security at your feet instead of on your lap :)
i have a house dog too, she's laying in her bed just beside me.

Jim said...

Nearly a year ago, although we already own a Shitzu, the wife saw a chocolate cocker spaniel and had to have it. Worse yet, the daughter who is living with me had to have its sister. Guess up with the pups every night, saw to it that they were fed and watered, and was out enough money taking care of them that we could have easily had another small vacation along the way. And after everything, the wonder left and we gave both of them away, the chocolate one just yesterday. Still...if she wanted another one tomorrow, I suppose I'd do it all again.

Anonymous said...

A puppy :-)
I'm jealous.. just wanted to say hey I love ya.. so very proud of you my sweet sister

Love ya

Peter said...

Jim, with all due respect, I hope you strenuously resist that temptation.

Dogs are "pack" animals and your family is the pack, especially to a dog raised in it from puppyhood. Banishing a dog from its pack (there is no other way to describe it) because you don't feel want it any longer is a terrible thing to do to a dog. I hope the spaniels have gone to good (and lifelong) homes.