Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It’s a God-Thing: Part Two – Lady

Today’s guest post is from V.K. Whetham.

Lady (R) with Rocky (L)
Recently I was sobbing. 
Now, I must insist to make it known that I am not prone to fits of sorrow, frustration or anger. My father, who has never been one to give compliments, has given me exactly three that I can remember. Since this is the year where I will reach the exact middle of my life expectancy – if those “How Long Will You Live” calculators have any accuracy at all – and because I see my father as a very wise man, these compliments have meant more to me than just about anything else in the world.
I say this with no negative feelings or sarcasm.
What he said was, “I’ve always seen you as the most positive of people.”
This was in response to the first sentence and the second.
I was sobbing because I am a mother of a teenager. Being mother to a teenager is the scariest, loneliest, least fulfilling and most agonizing state of existence. It is all part of a great plan where we will give up our children to their futures, willingly. In fact, many of us will not only voluntarily show them the door, some of us will pack their bags for them and set said bags on the porch. Attached to one bag may be a bus ticket. Nothing else.
I wasn’t left to cry alone. Lady, my 10-year-old Mastiff, climbed onto the couch next to me, arthritic hips crackling, and then set her head on my hip. She then gently, quietly began to moan. This is Lady’s way of communicating. She moans from the couch so I’ll bring her treats from the kitchen. She moans at her water dish when it is empty. She moans when she itches and she moans quite loudly when she is outside in the rain and would prefer to be inside. She doesn’t know English but she does know the universal language of moaning.
“Patience,” I read in her big brown eyes.
“But –” I blubbered.
“Patience,” Lady moaned.
I petted her. She moaned slightly louder, then laid a big paw on my thigh.
Now I will tell you the secret of an optimistic life. First, be born into a family that loves you. Second, be born into a slightly dysfunctional family. Third, succeed. Fourth, join a profession where you have the opportunity to serve others. Then you will know how grateful to be. 
I looked down at my beautiful Lady – and I no longer felt like crying.
I adopted Lady from the Humane Society. I hadn’t planned to do it. It was an accident. 
I had just purchased a home and it wasn’t even a home that I really wanted. But it had “potential.” I fall in love with anything that has “potential.” Ask any of my exes. They all had potential.
Point of truth: Don’t date anyone with “potential.” Date someone who has lived up to their potential.  

Anyway, my new home had potential, which meant what it really had was a backyard, if one defines backyard as being LARGE: a 7000 square foot lot with weeds, a canoe with a hole in its bottom and a white wooden fence in need of repair. It is exactly 7 times bigger than my house. I didn’t see the weeds, the fence or the canoe. I saw gardens, grass, fountains and birdbaths. I smelled fertilizer and the acrid scent of herbicide. And I saw a dog. Maybe two.   
I was surfing “how to” gardening websites and ordering bulbs for spring planting (I purchased my home in August) with my computer resting on boxes to be unpacked. I was in seventh heaven. I had outlined ideas how I was going to landscape my new backyard before I set up my bedroom. So it was only natural for me to visit the Human Society to look at dogs. Not to adopt, but to plan.  
That’s when I saw Lady, a beautiful, red-brindle Mastiff-cross. I read her biography. She was 4-6 years old and had been at the Human Society for 3 years after being taken from an abusive owner. Apparently, they thought she was part pit bull and hoped she would be a good guard dog. They tried to make it so by being mean and abusive. Since Lady doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, it didn’t work. Lady licks, eats and guards the couch or bed, depending if it is day or night. She also moans. But she is not mean. She would only defend herself from an extreme situation.
So there she was waiting in the Big Dog Pen with other Big Dogs that were not very nice to her. They bullied her even though she was the largest, weighing in at 109 lbs. But she patiently waited, licking visitors with her tongue year after year after year. Three years is a long time to be waiting for a forever home, especially when you’re a dog whose life expectancy is 10. That’s 25 years in human time. Twenty-five years is a long time to be locked up. Murderers in this country get less time with good behavior.
I decided she’d done her time, and within 10 minutes after meeting her I was writing a $35 check and loading her up in my car. Best $35 I have ever spent. I should have paid them more.
Lady spent the first 3 months living by choice in an 8X10 room with the washer and dryer. She came out for bathroom breaks and food. She growled when anyone approached her but would let us pet her. I just figured that if this was the best she would ever be, then so be it. At least she wasn’t waiting anymore. I promised her that whatever life she had left would not be spent locked up with a bunch of bullies because someone had criminally harmed her. We punish our victims too often in this country. 
I needn’t have worried. Eventually Lady found my bedroom with the big queen-size bed. It was dark in the back room and much quieter than living with the washer and dryer. Once she found the bed it was good-bye utility room. This meant she had to sleep with me where she learned to moan to be petted. It was also where I discovered she snores quite well – but I think she already knew how to do that. 
Then she found the couch. Lady will tolerate almost anything and anyone as long as she is on the couch or the bed. She will guard her bed or her couch.
She does hide in the utility room, underneath a folding table, when she hears thunder and fireworks. Fireworks should be banned and those that use them inside city limits should be sentenced to spending their next 4th of July at the Humane Society. In the Big Dog Pen.
After I started fostering dogs from the Wyo Herd Rescue, also an accident (all the best things in my life have come to me unexpectedly), I discovered that Lady is a therapy dogs for other dogs.  She has been my best companion and my strongest aid in fostering other dogs. If a dog, male or female, is overly aggressive or domineering, Lady gives them “the eye.” It’s not pretty. If the dog continues, she pins the wayward soul down while barking and growling in the offender’s face. She eventually lets the dog up, tail between their legs and without a scratch. A third warning has never been necessary.
Timid, shy and injured dogs are allowed to lie next to her. Her soft moans and body heat gives them comfort. She lets the puppies sit and bounce on her. She licks the wounds of the injured, cleans the dirty and defends the weak with that “eye” and sometimes a sterner warning. If the dogs play too rough, inside or out, she growls, also in warning. Rough play ends immediately. Children running through the house also get “the eye” and then a warning. They stop in their tracks as well.
Otherwise, children love her. They offer her a treat and she thanks them with a large, wet lick that makes them giggle. She’ll clean their faces as well. She is the perfect mom, the perfect therapist.
But it wasn’t any of these things that stilled my tears. It was one thought, “How Big is God?”
God is Big Enough to move my heart to accidentally adopt this beautiful dog. He is Big Enough to keep a gentle giant patiently waiting for her forever home, knowing she would be needed for the dozens and dozens of dogs that would follow her. He is Big Enough to remind a grieving mother that Lady was not alone nor forgotten, and neither am I. He is Big Enough to remind me that if Lady had patience for 3 years, who am I not to?
What did I hear when Lady moaned on my lap? Not pity but “Patience, He is Big Enough.”
What is the fifth element to living an optimistic life? Faith. It is remembering that God has his eye on the sparrow. Does he care less about his children or love them less?
He has a plan. It is for good and not for evil. Eight years ago when Lady entered a shelter, beaten and abused, he said to her, “I have a plan. Patience.”
Lady laid her paw on my leg and I heard, “Patience. He is here.”
Next time V.K. visits: Even cats find their way home. 
Adopt one, until there are none.

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a great story! I laughed out loud at your "point of truth" - very apt. I especially liked the passage about the sparrow - how very true, although some days it helps to be reminded. Thanks for sharing!