For The Love Of A Dog

by Judith Rich on February 24, 2010

The Grand­puppy

Meet Nikita, the newest addi­tion to the fam­ily.  She’s a res­cue dog, part Vis­chla, part Pitt, and part mys­tery.  She was adopted by my daugh­ter and her hus­band at 8 weeks, about the time of this photo.  Nikita is now 8 months old and con­sid­er­ably larger than this pic­ture, but she’s still true to her cute puppy nature.

Every Fri­day, I drive into the city (San Fran­cisco) and col­lect Nikita,  a bag of her good­ies (food, toys, leashes, etc.) and we trun­dle off to the other side of the bay to spend a day play­ing together.  I don’t know who looks for­ward to our out­ings more, she or I.

I spent 15 years rais­ing dogs and being owned by my pets, but that chap­ter con­cluded over 10 years ago.  When the last pet died, I swore I’d com­pleted my duty to ever own another one.  So now I just “rent” my grand­puppy.  Isn’t that what grand­par­ents get to do?  Not hav­ing any human grand­chil­dren (yet), I’m get­ting in prac­tice for that pos­si­bil­ity down the road, should I be so lucky.

Mean­while, my weekly out­ings with Nikita have brought me back full cir­cle to the olden days, when my 4 dogs were cen­tral play­ers in my life.  I’m reminded of how our pets just love us uncon­di­tion­ally, no mat­ter what.  I’m reminded of how their curios­ity never seems to wane, that just around the cor­ner is some­thing new to sniff, and a whole new adven­ture awaits.

Pets can bring us joy and they can break our hearts.  Just like peo­ple.  We endow them with human traits and they come to know how to get what they want from us.  It’s a mutual admiration/inspiration/and some­time, frus­tra­tion society.

Hav­ing to put 3 of my 4 dogs to sleep at the end of their lives was such a bit­ter sweet expe­ri­ence, I didn’t think I could ever open my heart to love another ani­mal that way again.  And then along came Nikita and all bets were off.  Ani­mals can soften a crusty, old heart in ways few humans can.  Or so it seems.

And so Nikita is teach­ing this old dog a few new tricks.  I’m even learn­ing to let go of the leash and trust that love could come around again and she is liv­ing proof.  Who knows?  Maybe she’s help­ing me to open up a new chap­ter I thought I’d closed for­ever.  Now THAT would be transformative!

We never know in what form our teach­ers or our lessons come.  Our job is to stay open and will­ing and not be attached to how it looks.  And so it goes.….….

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