Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Tag: dog

Dogs in Cars

Dallas Riding in the Car

Dallas Riding in the Car, Fast

Since my Dallas died, I like to bike down by the dog park and wait for the cars with dogs in them to drive past. Sometimes I can hear them coming before I see them, the barks echoing off the Mississippi River valley and the High Bridge. Soon I see the German Shepherd with his head out the passenger side window, still announcing his arrival.  Next, a red SUV chauffeurs two hounds that compete for the same prime window seat. Then comes a pit-bull in a sports car with the top down. This one is smiling and quiet, but with enthusiasm just as loud as the barker’s. I laugh out loud in jubilation, sometimes sorrow, and try not to think of my Dallas.

Two Peas in a Pod

Two Peas in a Pod


Life Lessons from Buddha-pop, Part One

Sodapop, aka "Buddha-pop" and "Sodi-Wan-Kenobi"

I was not looking for a life lesson when I let my cat outside a few days ago.  But Sodapop did not earn the nicknames Buddha-pop and Sodi-Wan-Kenobi by becoming a victim to his life experiences.

Sodapop is mostly an indoor cat with daggers for claws who loves his outdoor escapades.  Now that we live in the country again, he asks politely to come with the dog and me to feed the horses.  Some days he doesn’t ask and just darts out the door.  He must suspect the answer would be no these days so he just makes a run for it.

The last time we lived in the country, he impressed my husband and I by swatting birds out of the air and dragging home a rabbit of equal mass by the jugular.  Witnessing the circle of life makes me anxious because something must always die in order for the other to survive.  My gentle heart knows this circle is necessary, but it doesn’t make the experience of witnessing something suffer and die any easier.

Two-bit "Can I go to Budapest too?"

I’ve known that Sodapop, unlike his twin brother Two-bit, must express his animal nature.  Don’t get me wrong, if a mouse were to cross Two-bit’s path, he would surely play with it, torture it and then bring the carcass to me as a gift.  He just doesn’t have the drive of Soda to go looking for such things in the great outdoors.

This particular day I let Soda outside while I mixed horse feed in the basement.  By the time the dog and I joined him outside, he was nowhere to be seen.  Probably up a tree somewhere.  Too bad I missed that, I thought.  I love to watch him sprint across the yard, ears pinned, voraciousness in his eyes, as he focuses all his attention and energy on conquering that tree.

There were several “farm” cats milling about, but no Soda.  I’ve been working on releasing my fears of letting him be a cat, so I had convinced myself not to worry about him interacting with these cats as he is way tougher than any of them.

Until Big Bad Tom showed up.

There’s a Tennis Match in My Skull

I took my twelve-year-old Golden Retriever, Dallas, to the veterinarian last week.  He has been experiencing mysterious little twitching attacks over the last few months that recently became more frequent and worrisome.  He wears the cutest, curious-puppy-dog face when it happens, as if to say, “what’s going on?” but there is nothing cute about these fits.  His body is getting older, arthritic, grey and has begun to confuse his youthful soul.

A thorough exam and lengthy conversation with Dr. Arnett at Waunakee Veterinary Clinic narrowed us down to hypothyroidism or a tick borne disease.  With his knack for explaining things in layperson terms, Dr. Arnett gifted me with a life lesson to ponder.  He said, “Perhaps these puzzling symptoms are the new normal for Dallas.  All things considered, he is a very healthy twelve-year-old dog.”  As much as I wanted to reject that theory, I knew there might be some truth to it.

My Beloved Dallas

We opted for the thyroid test first as the symptoms seemed to point most earnestly in that direction.  Dallas is at the lowest range of normal, but given his past super-athlete lifestyle, I suspected that this ‘low range of normal’ is actually his version of below normal.  More tests were recommended to help narrow down what is actually causing the low thyroid results.  As my husband and I continue to explore options for Dallas, I cannot get the conversation about “new normal” out of my head.

I am in my mid-thirties now and my body definitely doesn’t behave like it used to.  Nothing alarming, but enough change to perk my own ears and tilt my head in curiosity at.  What if these subtle nuances are my new normal?  Of course, I emphatically dismiss that inkling, wanting things to be the way they always were.  But when the wave of denial passes, I consider this notion again:  when do I stop searching for a ‘cure’ and accept the changes as the ‘new normal?’

By no means am I giving up on Dallas or myself; I intend to pursue my due diligence, all the while entertaining the questions: “Is this body or symptom my new normal?  Are these unusual tremors Dallas’ new normal?” As you read this, dear friend, those questions continue to bounce off the rigid walls of my skull like the tennis ball in a Wimbledon match.  With appreciation for a questioning mind, I will watch this match develop; returning the wicked serves as best I can while seeking a return to normal or accepting the new normal.

Am I Sentinel to My Own Thoughts?

Dallas Keeping Watch as Joey Departs

My dog Dallas and I begin our daily morning trek up the snow-blessed hill with zest in our laurels and secrets in our ears.  I am cocooned in three under-layers, Smartwool socks and Carhartt bibs and coat.  Dallas only wears a coat of exquisite strawberry blonde hair with distinguishing gray around his eyes and muzzle.  We follow a trail made by our equine friends – occasional hoof-shaped indents left in the snow to prove they trod here once.  As we round the bend, I notice the horses are blinking curiously at us – having been warned by the movement of Dallas running amok with nose to ground.

In each hand is a bucket for my beloved ponies.  They eagerly leave the comfort of their herd and meander my way.  Lots of stroking, hugging and murmuring greet them.  Their contented munching becomes meditative so I sit beside them on the angelic cover of ground.  Dallas is a few yards off now – sitting – looking out at the world around us.  He is sniffing the air – I wonder what he finds – friend or foe.  He is vigilant to his surroundings as though danger may arrive if he were not.  The horses are alert to the strange squealing in the woods – their ears and eyes swivel to assuage their instincts that it’s nothing life threatening.

In my serenity I am struck by the though that these creatures are sentinels of their own survival.  They are students of their surroundings, making sure nothing of harm will come to them.  If danger should ever arrive, he will be quite challenged by his greeting of fight or flight.  And although I do not have the same concerns of survival as my animals, I certainly have the dangers of my own mind.  It is necessary for my health and perhaps one day, my survival, that I become sentinel to my own thoughts and agreements.

Handsome Approaches

How will I respond to danger?  How will danger feel when I greet him?  Will I even see him coming, disguised a million different ways?  Am I gatekeeper of my own thoughts, experiences and reactions?  Do I sit as Dallas does, with nose to the wind and catch my own scent of self-deprecation.  Are my own thoughts friend or foe?  Am I vigilant even in mundane tasks like my horses with an ear and eye to what may be lurking around in the forest of my mind?

I scratch my horses, pick up their empty buckets and walk with them to the water.  I thank them for what they’ve shown me and walk back down the path with Dallas, pregnant with reflection.  I thank Dallas for his wisdom too as he bounds on ahead of me.  I find that there is room for improvement and I vow to treat myself kindly in order to make room for awareness.  And as I come to the end of my trail, I snort and laugh out loud at the recollection of a bumper sticker, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”


Attachment Cured by Rodentia, Tempus and Carnivora

My husband and I finally rented a place together again after jobs kept us in separate states for most of this year.  We excitedly returned to our storage unit on Thursday to begin the moving process only to discover that mice had moved in.  Since February, we had unwittingly loaned all our belongings to an unknown number of rodents. We hadn’t intended on our stuff being in storage so long so we haphazardly packed and threw everything in there.  Every box was fair game as none of them were properly taped shut – only folded.  We proceeded with apprehension as to what we might find.

Our hide-a-bed couch was stored on end so we could see as soon as we uncovered it that the mice had made a nest in it.  A large plastic bin, overflowing with stuff and lidless, was littered with vermin excrement.  A big box, also carelessly over-packed and wide open housed a precious pair of jeans that I have almost fit into since college.  A rodent bathroom – that’s what they were now.  Another pair of jeans I’ve almost fit into for a number of years had become a mouse chew toy.  It suddenly became very easy to let go of my attachment to these belongings.

On to my most prized possessions – my books.  These boxes have the unique experience of never being unpacked in my last dwelling.  After a year and eight months of being locked away from my inquisitive eyes and fondling fingers, I was surprised to find that I could part with a significant number of them.  “I’m not interested in that anymore” – “I don’t really need to keep every book I’ve ever read,” were some of the thoughts going through my head.  Somehow they avoided being tread upon by the twenty-ounce rodent renters so there was no damage done and they brought a fine price at the used bookstore.  It seems as though time had allowed a natural separation from those books.

Having lived for the last ten months without any of these things made it quite easy to slight them.  I have made several trips to the local donation center and the only things I felt a little separation anxiety over were the re-homing of my childhood stuffed animals.  My dog, Dallas, thought this would be an opportune time to acquire himself a new “baby.”  He sensed my angst over these items and took advantage of a small window of opportunity.  He very cutely marched over to my pile of toys, wagged his tail and batted his eyes at me.  With his entire body engaged, muzzle reaching for the stuffed puppy, he asked me, “May I?”

I acquiesced and gave him the first two.  Then he quite confidently took the other three – although he may have to fight my husband for the little Pooh Bear.  Five of the ten stuffed animals I’d been hanging on to for fifteen years were re-homed right under my own roof.  Of course they are now fodder for Dallas’ entertainment.  Their guts will be scattered throughout the living space before too long, but I have let go of my attachment to them as well and will gladly throw them in the garbage when Dallas has completely disemboweled them.  In the meantime, they will bring me much joy as I watch my smiling dog prance around the house with them.