a dogs life...
I sat in the driveway this morning with my dog at my side and watched the sunrise. It was beautiful, I lovingly patted his back and rubbed his ears while he listened to the birds tweeting and the cars driving by. His eyes smiled… it brought tears to mine. The day began totally different to my normal routine, and I knew it was all about to change. My ferociously loving pit bull was sick. He had been vomiting for 24 hours, stopped eating, and the night before stopped drinking. Dehydrated and scared, he clung to my touch and longed for comfort in my words. He was 11 years old. I knew the vet was going to give us options, I cringed to think of the worst, but knew the time had come.
I loved that dog. A part of our family. He was Matt and I’s first ‘child’. I had never had a pit bull, but Matt convinced me they were an awesome breed. And are they ever! I had no idea the mark he would leave on my heart the day we brought him home. He was an engagement present to ourselves, we named him Voltan (god of earth) in honor of the Mayan Temple we were to be married in. He was the sunshine in our day, we trained him, doted on him, gave him ALL of our attention…he was an amazing dog. He broke all pit bull stereotype labels, in fact was quite the opposite: the most lovable, caring, thoughtful dog I have ever had. I believe Pit Bulls are a breed that demand attention, they need guidance and strive to please. Voltan adjusted well to the birth of our daughter Mya and our growing family. He adapted to the new house and sat patiently waiting his turn now that we were busy with a child and climbing the corporate ladder. He also loved baby Kate, daughter number two, as she rolled on him, played with his tail and pinched his ears. He howled in unison with ambulance sirens. He ‘sang’ with opera on television. Amazingly, and with all honesty, our potty-trained dog announced both my pregnancies by urinating in our bedroom days before I took the pregnancy test?*&% He listened and loved and WATCHED as LIFE grew and changed around him.
I held his head and looked in his eyes as they grew heavier and heavier after the vet euthanized him, and softly he took his last breath. My heart hurt so bad it felt like it tore, and on returning home I could not seem to escape the ominous raincloud that hovered over my head. How was it possible to love a dog so hard? I went for a run in the late afternoon but soon realized after parking my car at the trailhead that I had forgotten my garmin. But in emotional exhaustion did not care and began to run. It felt good to NOT know my time. I walked. Thought about Voltan. Cried. Ran. Walked. And in so doing, realized that we take SO much for granted: the routine of feeding Voltan, taking him out to go potty, shouting at him to stop barking….busy, busy, busy…chores done out of HABIT, done WITHOUT conscious living . Now he was gone, and a piece of me went with him. Running can sometimes feel like such a chore, like a check off the list of to-do’s. Until it gets taken away. So in honor of running, I FORGOT about my pace, my stride, and the miles and JUST RAN, just because I COULD.
While running I thought about what makes a dog so special: their love and companionship has no rules, no boundaries. Their faithful love has NO EGO. Voltan loved my spunky and flirtatious pre-wedding self, my voluptuous and pregnant self, my non-running self, my injury-moping-on-the-couch self, my just-got-out the bed no makeup self, my every SELF I CHOSE to show to the world, and the SELF that cried and complained and HID behind the curtains. No expectation. I never had to BE anything for him, I never pretended, never donned a mask, never lied. He loved me always, and whenever I had the time, HE LET ME LOVE HIM BACK. This thing called ego that struggles for survival, strives to protect, and stops at nothing to enlarge itself. Running is in the ego business. Time, miles, history….we compulsively obsess about it…feel identified with details to wear this transparent label on our shirt “runner”. Isn’t it as simple as: if you run, well then, you are a runner. No ego, no competition, no fear. No explanation or justification of time or miles, an opportunity to SOAR, and to FAIL, to get up and run – whether bad or good. Never questioning how fast, how far, how long?
Look in the mirror and say, I am a runner….I RUN. I run without expectation. I run WITH and FOR love. And when life changes, and stuff happens, well then, I will adapt. But for now, SAVOR the run. Be confident in the SELF. Live in the moment without ego. Approach life without rules. Adapt to change. Love without expectation. GET A DOG (they can teach you so much.)
“The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.” Ben Hur Lampman