Saturday, February 08, 2014

dharma and the dog

I learn more dharma from my dog, than I do from just about anyone or anything else. My dog suffers, and has suffered, just about every day of his short life. He has a host of physical problems -- hip dysplasia, spinal stenosis, a hole in his heart. Now he has heart arrythmia, an enlarged heart, is blind in one eye and going blind in another. He is only 7.

Every morning, he wakes up gagging and retching. He gathers himself and every so slowly makes his way to his feet. Painfully, slowly, and with great care, he makes his way downstairs to go outside. And there, he stops, sniffs the air, slowly takes in the whole of the world. He is fully there, and fully appreciative. He embodies joy in each breath. If it rains, he raises his face to the sky and catches rain drops. If it snows, he tastes the snowflakes. A squirrel makes his whole body energized and he becomes motion.

When he is full to the brim with outside, he comes inside. He eats, doing nothing but enjoying, tasting his food. He drinks, doing nothing but drinking. He has a biscuit and he joyfully throws it in the air, and then chases every bit as it breaks. He sighs contentedly and curls up for a nap.

He is in pain through every minute of every day. This is not a perception, but a fact. His spinal cord is squeezed, and every motion causes pain. His breath is ragged, uneven, hard to watch. But he will rise in a bit, and pick up a toy -- hoping for a game. He will seek out a cuddle or just warm company. He will run to the cat's protection, from every imagined foe. He will attack the mail as it comes in the slot, because it is his job, and he will do it as well as he's able, for as long as he is able. 

He has taught me attention, gratefulness, to be gentle with myself and my body. He has taught me that attitude is everything. That joy is in each breath, each day, each moment, accessible to all who will accept it. He is teaching me love without attachment. And now, slowly, he is teaching me to let go. His days are dwindling. He knows it, and I know it. He will tell me when he is ready to go, I think. And I will let him go when he asks. 


2 comments:

Theresa Tarkington Kersey said...

What a beautiful story, so hard to read because I know the feeling . We can learn so much from our animals if we just pay attention. Love to Largo and to you and your family

RaineS said...

thanks so much! I really think we get so much more from our pets than we give them.