April 7, 2015
by Mary Wright Baylor
Ten years ago today, on April 7, I went to a local animal hospital and picked up a rescue miniature dachshund who has become my constant devoted companion and lap dog. At first, little Rita bore the psychic wounds of abuse and neglect in her early life: she was extremely anxious, her dull fur sparse, and she gulped every morsel as though it was her last.
But this is a story of resurrection and new life. In this last decade, she has adjusted and absolutely thrived in her “forever home” where meals are predictable, treats are omnipresent, and daily long walks are an adventure in scent-filled exploration and romping. Her thick coat is shiny and she no longer barks at men nor flinches when she sees brooms or umbrellas. Last year, a tiny young puppy, Rosie, came to join our family. It has been endearing to watch the 12 year old grand dame discover a new sense of youth and charming playfulness.
And yet, her life has not been without challenges. This sweet dog has endured some serious health issues and almost died several times from a rare canine blood disorder. On these occasions, as I retrieved her from the vets after a gruesome procedure or tortuous hospitalization, she would weakly wag her tail and use every last shred of energy to climb into my lap. And every time she settles into her cozy place, she makes a contented grunt that “all is right in the world.” I sense a deep wisdom in her–I often catch her looking pensively into space and wonder, “What makes you so serious?” And then, I see her wagging tail. There is much to learn and model from her.
There is an expression in rescue animal circles, “Who rescued whom?” This is especially true for me. Rita has been my steady companion through some difficult trials of my own. When tragedy and loss have knocked me off my feet, a little black dog with a muzzle now almost white barks her joyous greetings as I arrive home, climbs into my lap, settles down and grunts. No human words or contact are as comforting as the solace of this beloved relationship. I have been rescued over and over by her generous devotion. She has been a real symbol of resurrection. This little dachshund has taught me that in spite of all the burdens of life, if you look around, you, too, will find new life and a reason to wag your tail.
Today, have a pensive moment and consider an example of “who rescued whom” in your own life. Give thanks for this new life. Then do something that enables another “to wag their tail.”
Mary, my companion is a 15 year old Lhasa Apso named Sammy. Sammy had been with my ex-wife for four years when I first met her. After six years of marriage, my wife left me and allowed me to keep Sammy. He has been a source of joy and comfort to me in the two years since our divorce. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts.
You and Rita have made a wonderful journey from surviving to thriving together. I am so thankful to have found and been found by the dear little souls who now live here with me and teach so much about trust, love, responsibility and hope.
I am speechless at the breathtaking beauty of this reflection. It touches my heart and soul in so many ways. Thank you so much for these lovely words.
Thank you for this lovely reflection. It reminds me of my loving, dear departed cats, and urges me to look forward to adopting some more when our family situation permits. God truly blesses us with our animal companions.
Christopher Engle Barnhart
Thank you for you wonderful story. As a child I had a wonderful collie dog named Lassie. I got her when I was nine. She was beautiful, intelligent, caring, and part of our family. As she got older, she needed more caring from me. We got another younger dog which she loved and that seem to give her more energy. But as time passed , she became more and more depended on me to take care of her. One day I came home from college and she wasn’t there. My father had taken her to the vet and had her put down. I never got to say goodbye to her or be with her at the end. She lived a wonderful life for twelve years. Unlike us humans she truly had Unconditional Love.
Thanks for those words!
Mary, thank you for this lovely story. I especially ponder your question “who rescued whom?” My brother asked a similar question on Easter when I recounted my miracle story of the poem and the bus. He asked “who was meant to get on the bus?” I had always thought it was the other.
That’s a lovely tail (see what I did there?)
I have gained so much from people who, in a professional capacity, I have helped cure, or not. They may send cards saying “Thanks for being a great doctor” but I can never reply saying “Thanks for teaching me how to live in the face of mortality” but I often wish I could.
We have two gorgeous pitbulls, Yager and Prada, adopted in Canada from Prairie Pitbull Rescue, but both originally from USA. Prada was on death row in Los Angeles. Today I give thanks for all those people in the US and Canada who form a network to bring these amazing dogs to their forever homes.
Even if we aren’t having dark times, they rescue us from boredom, lack of exercise, and taking ourselves too seriously.
Wonderful story -thank you!