Last night my eldest was working on her homework, tired and cranky after a grueling day at school. Lanie came over and flopped near her and, of course as big dogs are want to do, sat on her homework. Now in dog language that would mean, I am here for you and I am not asking for anything but for you to pet me so you can feel better.
Like the unpredictable Austin weather this winter, teenagers are cloudy, overcast and sometimes there is chance of pure sunlight. Now I had tried that caring and nurturing “how was your day” stunt and was rejected completely. But the minute Lanie wandered over, my daughter softened. She shakes her head and says “Lanie get off my homework.” and then stops and proceeds to hug her and play with her for a few minutes. She nuzzles her face in her black and white fur looks up at me and says “Mama, how did we ever deserve a dog like Lanie.”
I don’t know the answer for that question.
To think that one non human being can change the lives of all in our family and a few in my neighborhood, without words, without obligation, without responsibility but through consistent presence and unflinching devotion. To look into their eyes and see a reflection of your own perfection.
We grow up being told to become better at every step of the way. Become a better child by doing blah blah blah. Become a better student by studying blah blah blah. Become a better parent, better employee, better boss, better spouse, better elder. No matter the relationship, there is always something that can be done better. The goal of being better is never met because apparently that happens only on the day you die. Then miraculously many people gather at your funeral and say what a wonderful person you really were. There are stories, there are incidents, there are anecdotes usually regaled with a whimsical smile or a sad tear or two.
But that is usually saved till you can no longer be present to hear it.
Not so with your dog. When your dog sees you, there is complete acceptance and forgiveness. To your dog, you are the most wonderful, beautiful, interesting person in the world. You don’t age, you are not too fat, you are not too poor, you are not too stupid. (more on this in 5 Lessons from Lanie)
I was touched by Anne Lamott’s eulogy on her beloved dog Sadie who dies after a prolonged illness “Having a good pet is the closest some of us ever come to knowing the direct love of a mother, or God.”
This is true. Every other relationship but this one, can be marked or marred by love, tears and roller coaster rides.
I don’t know how we came to deserve a good dog like Lanie who chases rabbits, snores like an old man and hugs everyone. How does she manage to go through her dog life living with her heart so wide open.
I don’t know whether at some point, someone above looked down below and said “Looks like they really need her since Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee have their own reality shows”
I can however, recognize the presence of Grace and I am grateful for the timing.