The first step towards moments of self discovery is to slow down, way way down. this past weekend at the beach I wandered off for some time alone with surf and spirit. after a few deep breaths I noticed that a friend's dog who I had just met that day was following alongside me. I looked back to see if anyone was joining her but she had set out on her own. we walked along together at a sizeable parallel distance- I reveled in the space in our companionship and the companionship in our space.
I then began to hear her speak to me, though she wasn't speaking on her own behalf but on her fellow canine Ollie's behalf, our five year old golden retriever that was at home. I heard her say, "give him a break, he loves you and he really misses you".
Whoosh. in that moment I felt a huge surge of compassion and sorrow and self-admittance. I have been gaining emotional distance from Ollie for awhile now, what truthfully may have started the moment that we brought our daughter home from the hospital almost 2.5 years ago. But lately it has been compounding by the week. the incessant mountain of dog hair, his horrible middle-of-the-night habits of scratching, thumping, panting, and sometimes even peeing on the floor. When he shakes his oversized body in any sort of sunlight i shudder at the cloud of hair and dust that releases from him. his sprinting off to bark at the neighbors and the weight of the task to reel him back in.
he had begun to drive me batty and to be honest i just began to disconnect. but in that moment with tuna on the beach i longed for ollie to be there with me. in all of his glory, with an open expanse of sand and waves and birds to chase. he is currently slave to the moments when we throw the tennis ball and because of his occassional aggression towards other dogs we hardly ever find opportunities for him to run free without fear. but yet he loves. and forgives. and loves and bumbles along some more.
i know that my day to day life frustrations with him will continue but i came home after this weekend with renewed faith in our relationship and a commitment to honoring and being a little gentler with this member of our family. it has been a painful past week for my family and to return to the unconditional love of Ollie is a reminder to me of what sometimes defines family. I have learned by his example that sometimes we have to learn to love from afar, trust in the bonds created over time, and go about our days the best we can, until an unsuspected messenger comes and calls us back together.
we'll see what happens. but mainly i just want to say thank you tuna. and ollie thanks you too.