One of the problems of life I see is we tend to compare our life to our friend’s Facebook life. Or, in the movie biz, it’s like we look at everybody’s highlight reel and we compare with what’s on our editor’s floor. Everybody has hard times. This is an example of spiritual tools and how they work in those times.
My wife brought home a cute new puppy from the pound, happy with what they were calling a medium sized dog. I took one look at those muffin paws and knew this was no medium size. He grew into a 90 lb affection hound.
I call him an affection hound, but it’s more like he’ll lay his head in your lap rather than try to sit on it. He likes his butt scratched and he’ll come say hi now and again, but he’s not needy and is a really good guard dog. He can be very intimidating, even though he’s never bitten anyone and I don’t think he will. He just doesn’t care much for other dogs and likes to establish order.
He has gotten past me a couple of times to settle things with other dogs on the sidewalk. This does not work in my neighborhood. I believe an owner is responsible for the actions of their dog and we were now facing the city’s animal control bureaucracy and a lawsuit. Plus whatever social ostricization in the hood, though that never ranks high on my decision making priority list. So we could move. Or we could get rid of my dog.
Lease and business obligations make moving very difficult, with lots of planning. Kind of hard to call a friend or even a family member with the line “My big dog is a bit of a problem. Can you take him?” I’m lucky I have a cousin living in the country with six dogs already and some property. A little arm twisting and he agreed to let him stay until I can rework the home situation. Still, it’s a family broken up.
The first weekend was the hardest so far, because my dog had no idea what was happening, but he knew something not good was going on. He is trying to adjust, but he doesn’t know why. My cousin says he has the loneliest howl between one and five am. The dog went from sleeping on the sofa in the living room to a sleeping bag in a penned up doghouse. He also knows which shed we put his collar and leash in for when we take him on walks. Seems like when he’s out of his pen, he spends most of his time lying in front of the shed’s door.
The first tool of coping I reach for is Love. It’s the biggest, most versatile tool in the box. Really, to think of it as a tool is a bit derivative, but it works. It’s also the blueprint for whatever I decide needs to be built. Love is whatever I cover him with when we separate and when we get back together. When I find myself missing him, I think about the love I have for him and send it to him. I also have spent my weekends going south and running through the woods with him.
Which brings me to intent. I want my family back together, even if it takes years. Which means I want my dog to know my growing kids and for him to know he has a place in the family. To make my intent reality, my actions must match. I couldn’t just drop him off and hope for the best when I pick him up in a year or two. I have to spend time with him and make sure he is adjusting. If not, I have to create other living arrangements.
Another tool is hope. I’m not just talking about hopeing the dog will be able to come home. Country folk treat dogs differently than city people. Dog fights usually get settled among dogs in the country. City people will try to break it up. Country folk know there probably won’t even be blood before they decide who the big dog is. Maybe it’ll change the way he deals with other dogs after he gets HIS butt kicked. I mean, if you’re going to fight all the time, you will discover losing sooner or later. This weekend, my cousin was hanging a deer to clean it. My dog would not be a part of something like that in the city. Maybe he’s just a country dog at heart.
My dog also has fear, and a lot of what he does is to cover that. Next to his pen is a pasture with some horses in it. He sees them as huge somethings and he backs away barking and such. Of course, the horses know dogs and I think they like to aggravate my dog. A chance to work on some of those fears. He is a smart dog.
I’ll follow development and we’ll see what happens.