We sometimes fail to see what is right in front of us. We live our lives consumed by work stress, home stress, and world stress. We get so caught up in it we fail to take a breath and reflect. For me, the animals I have in my life allow me to see the world in a different light. They lift me up most days and sometimes they frustrate me. I couldn’t see a world without them. I would not want to live in a world that they didn’t exist. So I savor the moments I have with them, which sometimes is better company than people.
I have had five dogs, four cats and a lizard. We have lost three dogs and two cats. The lizard, at 14 years is still hanging out with us. We have had our dog Bugsy for 7 years. In his short life he has lost quite a few friends and yet I didn’t ever take into account how that would affect him. Dogs can’t tell us so I failed to notice the subtle changes taking place in his small world.
Recently we brought home a new puppy. Not sure what we were thinking, but it happened so perfectly we figured it was meant to be. However, Bugsy was not happy about this new little thing who was chewing on his toys, biting him, and taking away his attention from us.
He was rather grumpy for the first two weeks. We were patient, we made sure he got attention from us even though a puppy can take a lot of time and attention. He would snap at her and go downstairs and lie down away from everyone. We just kept persevering and encouraging him with loving patience.
We started to notice that the new puppy, Maggie had a few choice words to say to him many times during the day. She was just not going to have a dog that was going to ignore her and make her go away. Watching her and how she interacted it was clear Bugsy was going to have to mellow out a bit or face her wrath.
She would lay down beside him and bark and bark as if she was explaining the art of play. Through trial and error Bugsy appeared to realize that first, this puppy isn’t leaving, and secondly, maybe he should give this play time a chance.
Alas! Victory! After two weeks of constant persistence on her part he figured it out! He started to shed that hard-outer shell he had built around himself and started to slowly let her into his world.
In hindsight, as I sighed with relief watching him run with her and gently every so gently wrestle with her. I contemplated Bugsy’s life. When we got him, we had two female dogs who lovingly gave him attention and welcomed him to the new family immediately. Sadly, one of our girls passed away unexpectedly before he was six months old. Less than one year later the other female passed away. This left Bugsy with only our cat, Lucy. Bugsy was barely two year’s old when the second one passed. I failed to notice if it affected him since I was busy grieving and working to pay the bills. Eventually, we moved into a house where we agreed to take the previous owners dog, Primo with the house. Bugsy did now have a playmate. They didn’t really play together but they would run up and down the yard together when the UPS person would drive past or anyone for that matter. It was a short 3 years later when Primo passed away, he was 14 years old.
Bugsy witnessed his passing and it was clear he was sad about it. We really didn’t want to get another dog. So we tried to give him all the love and attention we could, but somehow it was clear something was missing. Bugsy would put his head on the window sill and stare out as if waiting for someone. As the years passed it seemed like we were also missing something. Our kids were grown and no longer needed us and well what the heck do we do if we don’t have someone to worry about and take care of?
We figured Bugsy was okay, but he did seem to be more aggressive towards other dogs, and didn’t have quite the spunk he had. We chalked it up to old age or something.
It wasn’t until we brought Ms. Maggie home that I began to realize that maybe, just maybe Bugsy was sad and lonely. The two cats we had he would simply ignore. We did have a cat for a year who would lay with Bugsy but sadly he disappeared one morning and never returned.
It seems that when Maggie came into our life, I realized I was rather lonely too. I looked at Bugsy and realized he had lost a lot of friends in his 7 years here on earth. I believe that he must have been terribly lonely and like humans he had created a wall around himself to not let anyone in. Hence, why he would snap at dogs who would come to visit.
Maggie reminds us that life is about the here and now. It is about enjoying the moments you have. They remind us that every moment is a new and exciting time. We get so caught up on what happened in the past we forget that we only have now. We are only here on this earth for a very short while and wasting our time worrying and protecting ourselves from harm is merely keeping us caged in a little shell.
We make ourselves believe life is better without pain. But is it? I cried for every animal we ever lost, my heart broke in two with each one passing.
As I paid attention to Bugsy, I realized that maybe I was also protecting myself from the pain of losing another animal. But as when we get a sweet adorable little puppy or kitten we don’t think about the fact we will lose them. We enjoy the moments we have with them and if we are lucky we get many years to enjoy their company.
I cried watching Bugsy and Maggie play for the first time because I saw that Bugsy was genuinely enjoying himself and as his shell broke mine did too.
Even though I say I love and love is all that matters I forget sometimes to share my love and protect myself by not speaking or reaching out to make new friends. This current thing that has happened in the world has taught me that isolation is not my thing. I don’t enjoy being a way from people and hiding from some chance of sickness.
I am grateful for the animals in my life who remind me every day; life is a gift. We need to cherish the times we have with the ones we love. We must learn from the pain which happens from our interactions and situations in life that hurt us. We need to find a way to lift us up from these dark times the media feeds us and realize that the sun is still shining, the birds are still singing, and we are powerful enough to make this place a loving and kind world.