Things I Learned From My Dog: Wordy Wednesday

I have a dog. 
Well, we have a dog. 
Or, maybe he has us. 

Yoda came to us from a rescue. It was suggested at the time that he was a Cairn Terrier (think Wizard of Oz Dorothy dog) but he looked like he had a little Westie in the photo they shared with us. He had an unmistakable “old man” look when he was young. I know now that it was more “old soul” that I was seeing. 

The story that he came to us with, was that he had been rescued from a puppy mill in Idaho. I get a terrible picture in my mind when I hear that. Dirty cages, cramped quarters, dark garages. I wonder about the first few months of his sweet little life. By the time we got him, he had endured a brief placement in a family with young children and it didn’t work out. He was a vocal one and not everyone has the patience for a puppy. He was now six- months old and being fostered by two women in Aberdeen WA, very cautious about who would be the caretaker of this small wonder awaiting his forever home. We took my niece and nephew to be sure he would be okay with young (well-mannered) kids. He was shy, but incredibly sweet. 

We brought him and his safety rug home that day. Dogs are multipliers of joy. He settled into our small family quite easily. He’d never been around cats, so Gus was his first introduction. How lucky for him that he had this angel to share his life with. They became fast friends. Inseparable. Brothers 

Molly was another story. To this day they continue to engage with the instinctual adversity that dogs and cats are known for. They are quite aware of one another but will never be snuggle buddies. When Sassy came to us several years later, Yoda was tentative at first, but eventually embraced his new sister. They slept in soft crates side by side. They ate their dinners together (socially distanced) in the kitchen and curled up together every night on the couch or in front of the fire. He took his job as big brother quite seriously. She grounded him. He provided the spark of fun she needed. 

Kismet. 

I linger in bed later and later these winter days. I’m still crawling under the covers by 8pm but I’ve taken to lingering in the mornings until 5. I dream like crazy just after I first fall asleep and then right before I awaken. It’s as though the fog isn’t so dense in my head at these bookend times of day. The blessing is, that even as my middle of the night continues to be restless, this dream time as I fall and then awaken, is much needed sleep.

In the morning, I make the bed first thing. I’m usually the last one up so I make several trips back and forth around,  pulling and tugging on sheets and blankets. I hear a small whimper outside the door. It’s Yoda. He waits for me some mornings. I believe you can’t know true unconditional love until you know what it is to have the complete adoration of a furry creature. I step outside the bedroom into the hall. His butt won’t stop wiggling. His tongue won’t stop wagging. I sit down on the second step and he wiggles over as we have our morning reunion. My heart spills over. 

He’s getting older. By bedtime, he is stiff and struggles with the stairs ,though he does not want to be carried up. In the winter, his last walk happens before dark and he retires to one of his many sleeping places for the evening. At 7pm he stirs and is ready to go upstairs to his soft crate for the rest of the night. Before he climbs the stairs he comes to me for one last kiss. I tell him over and over that we love everything about him. That he’s a good dog. And then up he goes, to slay dragons or run the open meadow in dream. We begin each day how we end it. With love.

Sound bothers him differently now. Fireworks, the sound of whistles on TV, appliance buzzers, smoke alarm beeps. They are disturbing to him and while most we can manage, some come as shockwaves through his tiny body and he just wants to be held. His joints ache in the evening and he is afraid of slippery floors. His fur is changing too. The soft curls have become coarse and unruly. Aside from these things, you would never know he was approaching 13. He loves his nightly play ritual with me before dinner. He has four favorite toys, all with squeakers, all different versions of the same one. We play fetch down the hall with carefully placed rugs and runners. 

On the couch next to me he dreams. His paws and nose twitch and I imagine he’s off somewhere saving the world. As I move from room to room during the day he follows. He curls up nearby … just for the sake of being nearby. Even during my morning bath, he is right there. Precious.

I’ve learned a lot from this guy. Some things are simple. Well, all of these things are simple, really. As humans we have a tendency to overthink and complicate everything, don’t we? If only I could embody the simple wisdom of this lovely, sweet beast. 

Yoda Wisdom:

Eat when you’re hungry. 

Drink when you’re thirsty. 

Sleep when you’re tired. 

Keep routines for everything: sleep, food, walks, play. 

Don’t carry anything longer than is necessary. 

Be generous with affection. 

Don’t hesitate to express yourself. 

When you need rest, seek solitude. 

When you need love, seek company. 

Stay grounded by touch. 

Try new things. 

Investigate every possibility. 

Begin every day like it’s your first. 

Begin every day like it’s your last. 

Stay intimately connected to the world around you. 

Trust, but first, verify safety of all things.

Be loyal. 

Show gratitude. 

Take chances. 

There are dozens more. I could fill pages. To share life with such a creature, you learn things you can learn no other way. They are friend and teacher, parent and child. I love this guy. Yesterday, as I began this post, I kept looking into his soulful eyes and told him I was writing about him. I don’t know what he heard, but there was a loving approval. There is almost always that. It’s what I live for. 

11 Comments on “Things I Learned From My Dog: Wordy Wednesday

  1. Oh Yoda. Such a sweetheart. He struck the motherlode when you found him. And so did you and Kelly. May there be many more happy, if slower, years of companionship.

    • Oh, I hope you’re right. He’s been quite a blessing for us. The sweetest, smartest boy. (And I kinda love that you used the word motherlode ♡)

  2. Unconditional love, so good. Glad you have that love in your chosen family. I too have evening aches and coarse hair, we have much in common. Wish I could face both with such equanimity.

    • Ha ! Yes. We all have so many things we could learn from them. I long for calm in the face of change too. Aging is not for sissies.

  3. What a remarkable tale of your friend and companion. He has the most fitting name. 😀 How lucky that his cat experience was tender from the start. And how lucky we are who are showered with canine love all moments of our days! Long live Yoda!!

  4. Wonderful words about such a sweet creature! The pictures are fabulous too! I felt the same way about my little Samson puppy. He made it seventeen and a half years-so here’s to Yoda and many more years of a fun and exciting life!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: