My dog has almost arrived on three different occasions. First, I found a Beagle on a rescue site whose mistress had died. The surviving spouse was moving into a small apartment and didn't feel he could keep the dog. On the day I was supposed to go meet her, I got cold feet and called the gentleman. Relief flooded through me to hear him say he took my change of heart as a sign that he needed to keep the dog after all.
The next dog who nearly came to live with me was my grandson's dog, Baxter, who actually spent a week visiting. At the time, my daughter and her family were considering a move out of the area, and it was going to be difficult to take Baxter with them. She asked if I would consider keeping Baxter when they left. I said, "Yes" because I'd enjoyed this companionable dog and walking him several times a day. But then the move fell through, and Baxter stayed with the family he'd known most of his life.
Solo is the 3rd dog. Several weeks ago my brother emailed that Solo, a sweet Baja hound, had been abandoned by his gringo owners. Andy thought Solo would be the perfect dog for me. I fell in love immediately.
But still, I hesitated. I spent a week thinking about Solo, imagining him in my home and heart, and I was blessed with learning much about myself. Here are the highlights:
- The email and picture of Solo came hours after I learned of my Uncle Buddy's death, which drew a firm line between my love of animals and my Uncle, who in many ways cultivated that love.
- My brother and my son reminded me of the unique love a dog gives, which is undoubtedly a thing a long for.
- When Cindy stopped letting the decision be all mine and joined whole-heartedly in imagining Solo as our dog, the picture of him in our home grew vivid and alive. I could really feel what it would mean to grow our family with the presence of this dog. The reality was wonderful and also sobering.
- Several weeks ago, I wrote in my journal that I planned to radically change the priorities in my life in 2013. Solo was a test of what that meant to me, for adding him to my life would certainly be a radical change. But suddenly this morning I knew that what I meant by radical change was letting go of wanting and making more space in my life.
A few minutes later, I read this poem by a writer I studied with in graduate school. Some how it seemed to resonate prophetically for better or worse with my decision.
by Paul Lisicky
That silly retriever. He doesn't go to the two guys looking right at him, beaming him awake with concentrated joy. Not at all: he goes straight to the man with his head turned to the left, who could care less about doggy behavior and isn't the least bit stirred by the snout parked in the knee and the wagging hind parts. And that's it: the physics of the known world. Which is why the trees look better when they're left unwatered, and the birds actually prefer it when you don't sing back to them. And the holy man crossing the street with the black brim hat? He knows better than to pick up what he's dropped and lift his face to the mountains. Take it from him, friend. You probably wouldn't even want it if the light hit you in your head.