Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sophy and Life

As Sophy and I learn to live with each other, I find myself thinking what a good match we are—both intelligent and resilient and capable of love despite all odds. And those were very long odds. If there is anyone who can understand her fears of abandonment, it's a survivor like me. If there's any dog who could make me laugh enough to overlook some of the challenges, it's one who can stand up on her hind legs and figure out how to open a sliding patio glass door with her snout and front paws. (I was too startled and laughing too hard to think to take a picture!)

Sophy is reminding me that too much self-sacrifice isn't good for either party.

She is remind me that clear rules and boundaries are easier on everyone.

She is reminding me that play is an important part of the day—all through the day.

She is reminding me that one can be loving and still speak up for oneself whenever necessary.

I'm sure as heck getting more exercise since I got Sophy!

She's reminding me that we can defy the odds. We can choose who we will be no matter what our backgrounds might have been and learn to get past old hurts to trust when trust would seem to be impossible.

Here's hoping you have someone or an animal in your life who reminds you of things like this, too.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Yes, I'm still delighted with Sophy. I love discovering how clever she can be—and how sweet. We've had a tussle or two over who is alpha but we're getting that sorted out too—in a loving way. Gently. With firm boundaries but not anger. I see her exploring issues of safety and abandonment and am glad that I can provide her the love and safety she deserves.

As I've watched various things happen this past week, I find myself thinking that one good thing about being a survivor is that we are—I think—far more likely to be willing to question our own assumptions and to look for ways to grow and stretch our comfort zones.

I have watched my ex-husband's family fuss about my daughter coming to visit her grandmother and have talked with her about how we cannot change anyone—we can only choose who we want to be and act in ways that are consistent with what we value most. We've talked about not letting the ideas of others limit us and stepping back, taking a deep breath and trusting that we will find solutions.

I've watched my daughter play with Sophy and seen what comfort that brings both of them.

I've talked with friends who are going through difficult moments and reminded myself of the costs of being dogmatic and angry and the power in being willing to let go of those things and trust that each day the path will reveal itself.

As I've interacted with Sophy and looked for ways to successfully integrate her into my life, I've noticed that when I start to get upset, it all gets worse and when I am willing instead to let go and love, I can figure out what will work best—for both of us.

There is power in choosing who we want to be and how we want to live our lives. There is comfort in knowing we are living in a way that is consistent with what we most value.

Now for a Sophy story. You knew there was going to be one, didn't you? Today I left Sophy alone for an hour—the longest since I brought her home. Put her in a room with a gate at the doorway. Came home to be greeted AT THE DOOR by Sophy. The clever girl had figured out how to pull the gate open on one side (it's only pressure mounted) and slip through the opening. Now since there were no accidents and she hadn't gotten into or damaged anything, I wasn't as upset as I might have been. If anything, I have to keep from laughing at how clever she is. She was extremely pleased with herself, I might add, and who could blame her?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My New Dog

Well, I have my new dog. Since she came from a shelter, there's no way to be sure what her parentage might be. She's probably about a year old and weighs 45 pounds—bigger than I thought.

I grew up with dogs. At times they were my greatest refuge. At the shelter they told me this one is “needy.” Maybe. She did want to play at 4 am. On the other hand, maybe what she needs is just to know she's safe. She's lying on her fleece blanket sleeping as I type.

One of the good things about adopting a 1 yr old dog is that she's pretty much housebroken. I've housebroken puppies before and am just as glad not to have to deal with that this time.

It's odd to have to change how I do things. And a part of me resists that. But another part of me is glad knowing that it's really important to shuffle our schedules and do things new ways. Plus it's sooooo soothing to pet a dog! And nice to get unconditional love. I have no doubt that in a week or two we'll settle in nicely and I'll know how long I can leave her alone and how much exercise she needs and she'll know what she can do and what she can't.

After waiting what seems like forever, everything happened very fast.

Here's hoping you have some unconditional love in your life this week! Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Saturday, August 09, 2008


First, no word yet on adopting the dog. Silence there.

Second, my daughter (and I) just found out her grandmother (my ex-mother-in-law) has Alzheimer's. No one told the grandkids. Don't ask me why. My daughter is scrambling to find a way to go visit her grandmother before classes start in the fall. And furious that no one told her sooner. The family seems surprised she thinks it's a big deal or that she wants to come and see her grandmother NOW.

Silences. No matter what the reason, silences hurt. It's too easy to misunderstand why no one spoke or shared information. It's upsetting not to be given the option to act—because one didn't know what was going on.

Silences hurt when no one tells about abuse.

Silences hurt when there is a secret that keeps someone from helping or spending time with a person who is slipping away.

Silences hurt when no one knows why.

Silences hurt even when no harm is meant.

It's easy to recognize the silences that hurt US. The greater challenge is to recognize those silences on our part that may hurt others. Sometimes we think it's a kindness. Or we're afraid we'll say the wrong thing. Or maybe we just feel overwhelmed.

This week has been a reminder for me that regardless of our reasons, silences can hurt. Sometimes silences ARE necessary. I know that all too well. It's just good to be consciously aware of the choices we make and the potential pitfalls when it comes to silences.

Here's hoping there are no hurtful silences in your lives now or ever again. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Monday, August 04, 2008

Dogs and Emotions

You wouldn't think getting a dog would bring up so many emotions. Well, one expects emotions such as excitement, some concern about what having a dog will entail, etc. I found something else, though, when I started seriously looking for a dog to adopt over the past week or two.

I'd been thinking about it for some time. I assumed I wanted a collie or a sheltie but kept thinking it wouldn't be fair to the dog when the summers get so hot here. (We've already had over 40 days where the high was over 100 degrees this summer and since it's only the beginning of August we can expect quite a few more. Dearly as I love collies and shelties I can't help but feel it would be selfish of me to have one here.) But...maybe. Did I want to find a breeder or rescue a dog from a shelter? There were financial, ethical and breed specific issues to consider.

I started looking. The only dog I found that I liked—and she is such a sweetheart!—is probably a spaniel pointer mix. (Maybe. Since she's in a shelter, no one knows for sure.) Great! threw me. I found all kinds of emotions welling up. When I stepped back, I realized that having collies is tied up in my mind/emotions with the situations I was in when I had them. My collies were my refuge then and there were reasons they were the only kind of dog my family would consider.

Not getting a collie meant challenging assumptions I'd had for so long—and didn't realize I had.
Not getting a collie also meant letting go of that part of my life and stepping into new possibilities. Which should have been a no brainer GOOD thing! But our minds seem to be wired to fear new possibilities—at least mine is. I had to consciously choose to remind myself that this could be great in terms of freeing my mind to see lots of things in a new way.

Not getting a collie felt like betraying the ones I'd once had—especially once I admitted to myself that they hadn't been perfect and/or that maybe I didn't want some of the challenges that go with caring for a collie.

I went 3 times to look at the dog. The first two times it was as if I was afraid to let myself get attached to her. And so many ways she's a perfect choice. There's something about her. She's a sweetheart. Even though she comes from a shelter, she was fostered for 6 months (since she was a puppy) so she's socialized to a large degree. She's trained to walk with the person holding her leash—rather than tugging them over (the way my collies sometimes used to do). She's not too large, she's not too small. She has the calmest temperament of any dog I've ever owned. And did I mention that I can take her for walks without her trying to pull me over?

But I wanted to be sure I'd truly fall in love with her—because every dog deserves to be loved. I waited to be sure I could welcome her with joy into my life.

And now I've finally put in the application. Assuming it gets approved, I may have her home by this time next week. (They will spay, microchip, test and vaccinate her before I get to take her home. That's AFTER they process my application and assuming they approve it.)

I didn't expect the emotional stuff all of this brought up. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be able to let go of leftover limiting beliefs I didn't know I had. I share this with all of you because knowing that things can bring up unexpected emotions when we least expect it makes it easier to cope—at least for me—when they do. And hey, you're my friends so I figure it's good to share my happiness with you, too! And I am happy that soon—I hope!— I'll be bringing home my new dog.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),