Mondays With Maggie: Where It All Began

August 26, 2012. I was home with a sick grandchild and grieving the passing of my dog Cleo when this sweet face entered my consciousness.

Cleo came into our lives because I stopped on a busy farm to market road near our home to be sure the beagle I saw running through the drainage ditch would not get hit by a car. I got out…she ran up to me and then hopped in the car. The rest was history.

When Cleo died, the second dog we lost in a fairly short period of time, I vowed I was going to just be a cat lady. My cat, Munchkin was now our only pet. File this under famous last words.

I had secretly been looking at dogs on PetFinder for a few months. I knew Cleo would not be with us for much longer and I dealt with that sorrow by looking at other canine faces who promise several years of fun and love. There were lots of cute faces, but none that tugged at my heart. Until this day in August.

Shining Light

Chey and I sat on the couch that morning, scrolling through pictures of cute dogs. I had let her in on my secret and she reveled in the privilege. I don’t remember how many pages we looked at when an amazing thing happened. To this day I contend the experience was divine. It is absolutely the only explanation. I’m not sure that I can do justice to the moment, but this is what I saw.

Everything on the page disappeared except one face. It was as if a light shined on this one photo like the red dot of a laser pointer on a screen. It was saying, “this one, choose this one.”

I was smitten. There was no turning back.

Convincing The Husband

My no more dogs stand lasted eight days. So much for strength and determination. I could have persisted but why? I love dogs. I love cats too, why should I have to choose? Each pet brings with it their own contributions to the family; the relationship and the joy is different yet both add quality to life.

When the husband came home that night he was greeted by both Chey and myself running up to him with computer in hand showing him this face. How could he possibly say no? He tried even though I think he knew it was futile.

What he didn’t know at that moment was that I had already contacted the rescue group and the foster mom. I couldn’t let this pup slip through my fingers by hesitating. Something inside of me just knew, this is the one. She is waiting for me.

After sharing the full story with him, all he said was, “Well, the no dog thing didn’t last long.” He knew there was no point in arguing. My heart belonged to this scruffy little dog who needed a home.

Walt Disney Dog

We have both always loved the wiry mixed breed terrier type dogs so often used in Walt Disney movies. No further description was needed. Mention Walt Disney dog and we had a mental image. While not as scruffy as some, this little dog certainly was in the category.

I emailed back and forth with her foster mom and got all the important background information.

She had been picked up by animal control in a field. From there she went to the shelter. Like so many groups, this rescue organization goes to high kill shelters and rescues dogs. Their members provide foster homes for them while spending weekends trying to find good and loving forever homes for these cast off animals. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes.

At the shelter she was examined by the vet and determined she was likely nine months to one year old. During the spaying process, they found out she was pregnant. What had this sweet little girl experienced in her short life thus far? I don’t know, but I suspect there was not much good.

Her foster mom told me she got along well with her other dogs, loved to go on walks, and was quietly submissive. She had been to a few adoption events, but while the other dogs excitedly jumped, played, and looked cute for prospective families, Sugar (as she was known then) curled up in a corner of her crate. She turned her back to the crowd and tried to disappear. Life had been cruel and she wanted no part of people. Haven’t we all felt like this?

Life Lessons

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was standing at a junction in my life. There is no way I could fully understand the impact this dog would have on our lives. The things we would learn, the fun we would have, the absolute devotion that would be headed our direction.

But, that is a story for another day. Each and every day we all have an opportunity. The key is slowing down long enough to look and being sensitive to what is happening around us. The modern catch all word is “mindfulness.” While this word is generally attached to meditation and new age philosophies, there is something really important about the concept of mindfulness that we should not just dismiss as a new lifestyle trend.

Be quiet. It is a scientifically proven fact that when one of our senses is not used, all the other senses become more acute. If we stop talking, we listen. Not just hear, but really listen.

But what voices are you listening to? Turn off all the electronics. What do you hear now? Whose voice do you hear? Are you really listening to the voice or just hearing background noise? Is it critical? Is it loving? Do you just hear a scrambled mess?

Since Christmas I have been using an app on my phone called Calm. I have never meditated. I have practiced something called centering prayer which shares some similarities, but is different. I blend the techniques of each Daily Calm meditation with centering prayer. The narrator guides me in focusing the mind on breathing to help quiet all those random thoughts. As thoughts creep back in, we are to acknowledge them then return the focus to the breaths.

I use a “mantra” during the meditation that keeps my focus on breathing in the things of God and exhaling the noise of the world. On the inhalation I will “say” something like, “In with God,” “God’s love,” “God is love,” “I am God’s,” “Jesus” or a combination of these within any one session.

On the exhalation, as the air leaves my lungs, I release negative words and thoughts. So much junk enters our minds as a result of living in this messy world. It is ugly and dirty out there and if we aren’t careful our hearts become stained as well. So, I pray before I begin my meditation and I ask God to show me the things I need to release. Each session has not only guided breathing, but also a themed message. I have found that often that theme contributes to some of the prayerful releases that occur. Thus, my nightly meditation becomes prayerful purification of my mind and heart. Just like seeing Maggie’s face illuminated on a computer screen, it is no coincidence that the topics on any given day are also things I need to work on in my life. All things work together for good for those who love God. He uses everything, we just have to pay attention.

Following the Daily Calm thought for the day, gentle nature sounds continue to play. I lay in my dark room not wanting to move. I don’t even open my eyes, I just stay in this blissful state of calm connectedness.

However you choose to be mindful, I challenge you to slow down, hear, listen, and connect. It will change your life.

Until tomorrow…look up, embrace today, and go have some fun!