a small brown puppy
admires himself in the mirror
finds a friend
a middle-aged woman
glimpses herself in the looking glass
spirit vs ego
canine vs human
one much wiser than the other
Embracing the Moment
This morning, I am sitting on my bathroom floor, holding a puppy until it falls asleep on my lap. It is the best thing I have done for a very long time.
Now I don’t own a puppy. I don’t even like puppies. When my puppy crazy friends start talking in their “cootchie, cootchie coo” puppy voices, I roll my eyes and pretend I am above the lure of adorable puppyness. I had not planned on sitting on my bathroom floor holding a puppy until it fell asleep. I had many other things to do. There is a tidy list on my desk so I don’t forget even one of the many things I have obligated myself to do. So why am I here?
First, my friend is the local puppy-rescue queen and already has five dogs at her house. This little guy needed a quiet place to recover from minor surgery, and… well, what are friends for?
Second of all, puppy eyes? They steal your soul. This little guy, Sven, is a 3-month-old, light brown mutt with floppy ears, a wrinkly puppy nose, and eyes right out of a Disney cartoon. He has been very mellow, probably because of the pain pills and anesthesia in his system from the vet visit yesterday afternoon. Now though, every time I walk past the door, he jumps up off his bed, puts his front paws up on the wire gate containing his movements, bowel, and otherwise, to the easily mop-able bathroom floor. His thin rope of a tail wags so hard I think he will fall over. And those eyes? Those eyes say, “Hi there! Good morning. Are you going to pet me? Huh? Huh? Are you going to pet me?! Oh, you are not going to pet me. SIgh. Ok. I will wait 30 seconds until you walk by again, and maybe then you will pet me?”
I resist this for over an hour because, you know, I have a list of things to do. This last time though, Sven doesn’t bother to get up, only raises his head, thumping his tail a few thumps before letting out a little sigh and settling back down, already resigned to a life of disappointment.
Suddenly, I am transported back to when my children were small. I had lists back then too. I would rush to do dishes or run a load of laundry between changing diapers, feeding hungry mouths, and putting people down for naps. It was a glorious day when I found time to shower or make a phone call. The very best days, the ones filling my heart with tender memories, were the days I forgot about the damn list. The days of tea parties on the lawn or forts built out of blankets taking up the entire living room. The days of waffles for dinner and “Just one more book, Mommy?” and making popsicles out of old brown bananas. I do remember how much I loved having a nursing baby. For twenty minutes, I could sit, totally still, with a small person attached to my breast, doing nothing while doing the very best thing at the same time.
Making the choice to do the best thing is in my mind as I turn back to the gate separating the small brown puppy from my list-filled day. When I climb over and sit down beside his dog bed, he leaps up, puts his paws on my lap, the rest of his warm, wiggly body quickly following. It takes him a bit to figure out how to curl up. He is still wearing a plastic cone around his neck, and my lap is rather lumpy and unsteady compared to his dog bed. He finally gets all the bits in the right places, gives a happy sigh, and closes his eyes.
Sven will be off in a couple of days, first to another friend in the community, then hopefully to his forever home. I am pretty sure his tiny puppy brain will not remember a 20-minute nap he took on my lap, but I certainly will. Not because he is a small brown puppy with Disney cartoon eyes. Not even because of the new chew marks on my bathroom vanity. Once again, I realize taking time to be rather than focusing on doing is the best way to go through life. This lesson I will have to learn again and again and again but having a small brown puppy for a teacher makes is a pleasant lesson indeed.
Two days after Sven helps me let go of my list and curls up in my lap for a nap, he is taken to the vet and put down because of distemper. This horrible disease is 80% fatal in puppies and often runs rampant through overcrowded and understaffed shelters. All of us who were part of taking care of Sven shed bitter tears over his fate. The fact he did not get to live a happily-ever-after story makes me all the more grateful I slowed down and did right by another living creature.