Taking It All In

Years ago, after my beloved Bernese Mountain dog, Tess, died, I swore I wouldn’t get another dog until it felt right. Sometime after that self-pronouncement, a psychic, unasked, told me that Tess was still sleeping next to my side of the bed and would be there until she found a replacement. Right…

Enter Lily.

Lily, our long-haired shepherd, happened along when I told the kids we were JUST LOOKING at the puppies that day. The story has even more twists and turns (ask me and I’ll tell you someday..)but the bottom line is that Lily arrived in our lives and truly took over where Tess had left off – teaching me about life. She even found a good spot to sleep – on the floor next to my side of the bed. Well, she used to sleep there…

I say she used to sleep there because, at just 7 years old, Lily has been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy – a condition which involves her loss of the use of her hind legs. So there is no more going up stairs to sleep next to me. And, as the doctor said it would, it is progressing rapidly. Last week I needed to assist her at times to walk – this week she is wearing a harness and cannot walk without my help. It’s heartbreaking.

But just like Tess before her, Lily has been such an amazing teacher to me. In fact, I devoted a chapter in my first book to that theme, entitled “Lessons From Lily”. Here are some of them:
• There is no love except unconditional love
• A little affection helps brighten spirits
• Run hard/rest hard
• Make each day an adventure by seeing your surroundings with new eyes
• Protect your loved ones from the “bad guys” and enjoy their friends
• The simplest things bring the greatest pleasure
• Be consistent, hold your boundaries and make sure you praise the good stuff
And today she taught me a new lesson: Stop. Look around. And take it all in.

We went out for a “walk” – more of a 2 steps, pause, 3 steps, sniff, 2 steps, pause, ordeal. I kept telling her to hurry up, but she was having none of it. After being cooped up all day, doing nothing but laying around, she was savoring every moment of being outside. So, with a sigh of resignation (you try dragging a lame, 95 pound dog…), I stood there and watched her sniff the air, look up, look down, look left and right, and lift her head to take in the breeze.

And I decided to do the same.

I took in a big gulp of the fresh air, and looked up at the blue, blue sky. What a gorgeous color! I looked down at the melting snow, at the grass trying so hard to pop back out. I looked left and right and took in the details of the house and yard I am about to sell and move from. And I lifted my head and felt that cool breeze and warm sun, feeling the gratitude expand as my anxieties, like the snow, melted away.

Who knows how much longer Lily will be here with us. But I intend on learning everything I can from her while she is here by my side. Thank you, Tess, for sending such a wise one my way!



2 Comments

  • Patty

    Beautiful! Dogs are the most loving creatures and we can learn a lot from them. I hope Lily continues to help you until you are both ready to let go.

  • Joan MacMeekin

    So lovely, Janet and I know just what you are writing about. I am experiencing just the same with my walks with Dad. Teachers come in all forms if we are only open to them. Love you.

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