beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to
twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” - Thomas Merton
this morning I posted a photograph of Will from his first morning with us on our
Facebook page. The comments were
numerous and kind. Some emailed and
others posted comments asking me how it worked out that a fifteen year old dog who
was ready for death choose to stick around long enough to not only
celebrate his two year anniversary with us on May 6, 2015, but also thrive
and turn his anger into happiness, his loneliness into trust, and his painful
past into redemption.
For those who posted, thank you for your kind words. Many are far too
generous with their praise.
off, I'm not a saint. Far from it...which helps me in many ways, I think. For there were times in my life where I was
also lost, just as Will was. That made it
easy for me to choose to look at Will from the very beginning in the same
manner I looked at Atticus when he came to me as an eight week old. And I don't mean as puppy, but as an
have always tried to put myself in his skin and thought about how I would want
to be treated if I was Will. After that
it was and, continues to be, trial and error.
If something works, we keep doing it. If it doesn’t, we try a new
important to point out that I do not consider myself an expert (and avoid most
experts whenever I can), but in the instances with Will and Atticus, and with Max
preceding them, who, like Will, came to me as an older dog, it has worked out
well enough that I have no plans to change our approach.
dealing with those I care about, I choose to concentrate on their individual
journey, or as Joseph Campbell wrote about, "the hero's journey". I do my best to eradicate that which divides
us and concentrate on commonalities while still respecting our differences. That’s why the Golden Rule works for us.
I'm a writer, words are extremely important to me. They represent and make concrete my thoughts. They form my contract with life and the
outside world and are the basis of human communication. It's one of the reasons we are very careful
with our social media postings and what we allow on our Facebook page as far as
comments go. You will never see breeds
mentioned. I think generalizing is
silly. And I definitely don't think one
breed is better than the rest or has a better personality than the others. It's the same with people. I try not to judge people based on their
background, whether it be race, religion, or political party. I avoid the clichés. (This is one of the reasons I was thrilled
when the NBA stood up to Donald Sterling last week.) So when someone posts that a certain breed
has such and such a personality, it hits the ether long before we ever see it,
thanks to the ingenuity of the moderators.
often consider Will in the same manner I considered the senior citizens I
worked with in a nursing home. To me
he's not my child, definitely not my baby, nor am I his dad. In his life span, he's twice my age. I respect that. I choose not to minimize his existence and
make him a subset of me or an accessory. I know this doesn’t work for everyone and that’s
fine if you like to practice it in your own world, but in ours, it is one of
the cornerstones of our relationship.
in my eyes, is pretty much who I am. Who
you are. He's one individual on a
journey. One individual’s journey is not equivalent to
another’s. No one’s life has ever been
like Atticus’s or Will’s or mine…or yours.
That's always what I think about whether Will's happy and dancing,
sleeping peacefully, collapsed in a puddle of his own piss and shit and
incapable of getting up, or angry, resentful, and striking out like he was when
he first came to us.
my literary soul mate and I have been corresponding about lately, I believe
that Will rescued himself, ultimately by his decision to live. Sure, a nice lifestyle and a safe place, good
food, caring, and medical attention helped, but in the end it was always his
decision. I equate it to the people I
know who are down on their luck or addicted to drugs or alcohol or anger. No one can save them. Those who love them and care about them can
get them to rehab, or to a therapist, but in the end the only one who can save
you is yourself.
yes, Atticus does deserve much credit for his patience, and I made a choice to
take Will in and do my best by him, but Will's the one who had the final say on
the happily ever after part. Will
deserves the credit. We simply gave him
a place to live out his days, and a right to choose on a daily basis, and to be
responding to a few comments that talk about love always being enough, I have
given this much thought. I'm a romantic
and I always believed this when I was younger, but then the years passed and
experiences added to more experiences, and ultimately, what I had to admit,
sadly, is that love is not always enough.
Stories don't always have happy endings.
Just look around you. Not
everyone is living a fairytale life. But
happy endings do exist, so I chose to believe in their possibility and work
what so great about Hemingway's famous line, "The world breaks everyone,
and some are made strong at the broken places."
the occasion I have talked about my philosophy regarding Will, Atticus, Max, or
individuals of any species, breed, race, sexual orientation, or religion, and
done my best to ignore those dividing labels, some people get pretty ticked off
at me. This is where I return to my mantra: I'm not an expert.
What works for us in our little corner of the world may not work for others in
theirs because of their own belief system.
I don't have a problem with that.
I figure I'm happy enough in our lives that I don't aim to change anyone
else. I simply draw boundaries around
what is acceptable to us so that people don't get very far when they try to
change ours, or in the rare case where they decide to express anger about what
simply expressing these thoughts because some have inquired about how I came
about succeeding with Will.
you all again for your nice words. I am
thrilled we are about to celebrate two years with Will when at first we thought
it would be only two months.
While some deserve credit for getting him to us, and Atticus and I may deserve
credit for taking him in and allowing him to be himself and grow as he needed
to, the hero in all of this is Will.
Once he was an afterthought, an accessory dumped in a shelter; now he is
indeed a hero.
Will is writing his own story, I'm just putting it down on paper for him.
I couldn't be happier for him, or more proud of his journey.