Yep, it’s that time of year when humans decide to give to those they love. Don’t get me wrong. I really like this time of year and yes, I enjoy giving as well as being given too, but lately I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of giving not as a holiday tradition, but as a way of life. This is, perhaps, because I am a dog and, by nature, I am built to give. With a simple wag of my tail or the cock of my head, humans receive a kind of joy I can’t explain. In fact, some humans teach their dogs to wag their tails or cock their heads on command…that’s how much they adore it.
But on a deeper level, dogs are natural givers. We seek companionship. We express our emotions (yes we feel the same ones humans do!) clearly and frequently. Even if we’ve been damaged in some way, with the right kind of patience and love our true natures as loving companions can be restored.
I suppose what’s got me thinking about all of this are the stories Gretchen’s been telling me about Max the foster dog who’s now receiving therapy at Wellsprings K9. Max is making steady progress, but it’s important that he come in for pool therapy more than one day a week. This is difficult on a number of levels. First off, his foster Mom has a job (which she has to have because she needs to pay for all the fostering she does as well as taking care of her human family) and so finding time in the day to transport Big Max to the pool can be tricky.
Secondly, it’s not cheap. Yes, she’s been getting help from the Wellsprings K9 Fund and a very special person (a current client at the pool) donated 10 swims for Max, but Max’ full recovery is going to take time and the best way to help him regain and rebuild all that neural memory is through swimming (and massage, of course). So this is going to be a long and expensive process.
Is Max worth it? I’ve never met the guy, but from all the stories I keep hearing, he’s the most tenderhearted guy who has been to hell and back.
Which leads me to my point about giving. Think about what he’s been through (previous post) and still he wags his tail. He smiles. He reaches out for human affection. He wants to be with other dogs (and cats, though I can’t imagine why!). With every effort he makes to walk, he wins more and more human hearts. By simply learning to be a dog he has given humans a sense of hope and at the center of that hope is the definition of love.
Yep, giving is about love. If there’s one lesson dogs can teach humans it’s that when you give (whether by wagging your tail or snuggling up under the covers or by simply bringing the ball back in a game of fetch) you are personifying love (though in this case it would be dog-i-fying, I suppose). You are breathing love into each gift so that the receiver holds in their paws or hands not just a present, but a slice of purity — something so true and weighty you can’t help but feel fulfilled.
So this past week, as we went to work (and went out to play, which are often one in the same) I realized how many gifts I receive each day. From a simple walk with my friend Olive and her nervous friend, Isabella…
…to my regular time with Rosie and Tyson…
…my long-standing friendship with Monty…
Monty often accompanies me on my work…he’s a great dog dog walking assistant!
…and an unexpected sleepover with Olive…which included a really fun romp at the Leschi park where I got to teach Olive more about being a real dog (she’s a retired service dog and sometimes forgets that she can run and play with abandon now!)
…taking Woobie to the pool so she can get some exercise and a massage with Emily…
…to time alone with my family on a crisp, winter afternoon while the sun sets casting a pink glow on the lake and Mt. Rainier…
…I am the receiver of much love — so much in fact, I think my curls have curled even more in the joy of it.
Next week will be a shorter work schedule for us and while I shall miss my daily routines, I am thrilled to be heading into another kind of giving love — time with my human family! I’ll be sure to spread the love by sitting close to Grandpa so he can pat my head…
…following my Uncle Paul around so he can giggle with me…yep, that’s me with Uncle Paul when I was just a pup!
…letting my Aunt Patti snuggle with me on the bed…again when I was a young, young boy and didn’t understand the meaning of cats!
…and hang out in the kitchen so that if Grandma “accidentally” drops something unexpected on the floor, I can help her with clean up!
Oh and Monty is coming with us! Perhaps this is the best present of all since he is my best friend in the whole wide world and now I get to share with him one of my favorite places in the world.
They’ll be my human and canine cousins too — Lindsey, Nathan, Hope, and Ringo — and I’ll do my best to wiggle and wag, play gently and let Ringo catch me every once in awhile when we play chase. And each night I will curl up next to my Moms and count the love in my life, like sheep lulling me into a deep and joyous sleep.