Lessons from my Beloved Dachshunds

My two dachshunds have taught me so much. There is a sense in which I think they are God’s emissaries, sent to prod me along the path of becoming more human. And I’m being mostly facetious with that point…but not completely!

My wife and I have them with us on our RV trip to Taos, NM and we would not have thought of failing to bring them as they are our darlings. But, they really complicate traveling life, needing a lot of attention and they do seem to have a mind of their own.

I’m going to share one anecdote about them which really has provided a revelation to me. One dimension of their care is that they need to be taken outside to “potty” as they do not have the luxury of doggie doors in this RV. So, that means we have to pay attention to such things as how long we leave them alone in the rv and always have to give them a bedtime “potty” opportunity. This is but one incursion into our plans.

During one of these “potty” events in Taos not long ago, it was very cool and wet with a steady mist coming down. I didn’t really want to take them out but my wife had knee problems and it was my duty. I debated just skipping the chore and taking my chances on cleaning up doggie “business” in the rv the next morning. But, I didn’t do this as Elsa and Ludwig are house-trained and have a sense of propriety about matters like this and will go to great pains to not “soil their cage.” And, I just could not be comfortable with knowing they would have to be so uncomfortable.. (Yes, I am “co-dependent” with them, but don’t tell anybody as I am still a licensed mental health counselor who spent years providing treatment for those with that ailment!)

So, on this occasion I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why don’t you pressure them to “do their business” quickly so that you can get back to the comfort of your mobile hearth and home?” Well, the answer was instantaneous, “I care for them. I care for these doggies deeply. Yes, I ‘love’ them like I would love children if I had had the courage to vote with my feet that this world was a good place to be. (Ok, actually, the “voting” would have required another part of my anatomy!)

I remember clearly when these would have been merely “damn dogs” to me; or, actually, back then, they would have been “dang” dogs! I’d have liked them or I wouldn’t have had them but I would not love them. That is because back then I was “separate and distinct” from the whole world and even, in some subtle esoteric sense, from myself. I was lost in the world of “literallew” in which I saw doggies, friends, families, the world, and even God as “out there” and not been able to feel a one-ness with them, not been able to “love” them.

And, these doggies are part of God’s providence in bringing about this transformation in my heart. They have taught me to love. Now, of course, I realize it is much more complicated than this, that the passing of time, emotional and physical maturity were involved, and certainly my marriage to my lovely wife who really led to the opening of my heart. And yes, in deference to one of my cyber friends, neurophysiology was hard at work in bringing about this change.

Now, “literallew” was not a cold-hearted beast! He cared for people and for the world and even for doggies. But he did so with great reservation as his heart was not yet “petal open” as Toni Morrison so vividly described in her novel BELOVED. My heart was not filled with “penetrable stuff” but was still “bronzed o’er with damn custom,” as Hamlet once accused his mother. I had not reached the point in my evolution where I was willing to relax my boundaries, put “literallew” out to pasture, and learn to swim in the spiritual depths of human experience.

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