I immediately wanted whiskey. I have no idea where this came from - if you know me in real life then you know I barely drink at all, definitely never anything past a beer. Then, shortly after that thought: dogs. Whiskey and dogs would be my chosen medicine. So naturally, it was off to Brooklyn with me.
He brought him out from the back where the cages are and I just about melted into a puddle of love. "His name is Staples." We walked together, he and I, for awhile. Up and around a building that houses a bed I used to sleep in. Down to the area by the water where one of my favorite weekend activities is held. He slid snout-first into the grass as though he had never experienced such bliss. It was one of those moments where you feel your heart break and fill up with even more love at the same time. I eased down next to him, careful not to startle the little guy. As I touched ground, he moved closer to me, slowly but surely letting me scratch behind his ears, slide my hands along his back, give him a good long belly rub.
We had only known each other less than an hour but already had something major in common: we each recently lost our person. My best guess is that his was a touch more traumatic as I hadn't been left in a box somewhere in the Bronx, unable to speak the same word language as anyone around me. Yet despite that, within the hour, he slowly opened up, scooting closer to me each time we took a break, breaking into a smile when I looked down at him. He took my presence in and assessed the situation, knowing it would be okay, that he was safe. He learned to trust me in less time than it takes to bake a cake, to wash a car. Easily (and correctly) believing I would walk him back to his current home, that he would not be left again. He had a love in his eyes that I don't see in very many humans - he was freely expressing a deep desire to belong, to be held and touched and to be loved back.
How many of us could ask for those things from another so quickly? How many could do it after having just been abandoned? Let down and mislead by the person you thought loved you best. The person you thought you were safe with. Furthermore, how many of us could do this while we weren't totally sure what was going on or why we were where we were? I sure couldn't. But this tiny, furry baby did these things with ease.
And there, with the wag of a tail, was the very reminder I needed: we may not get to choose what happens to us but we absolutely get to choose how to handle it. We can hold on to painful feelings, create stories for ourselves to live by, refuse to trust again after having it broken. OR we can let it go, roll around with joy and immediately open up our hearts to more love. We can panic and let our fear run the show OR we can see that where we are is for a reason, even if it isn't very clear yet, and trust that it will be okay. We can think we aren't good enough or worthy enough to be loved OR we can see that we are enough, we are deserving of being loved and giving love. We can analyze for months OR we can shake it off in minutes.
It made me sad to finish my walk with Staples (who seriously needs not only a new family but a new name!) but I left our time together with more wisdom and peace than I had started it with. The incredible wisdom and love that comes from dogs - all animals - never ceases to amaze me.
Next up on the list: whiskey. But that, dear ones, is a story for another time.