Even the Grinch had a Dog
I want to know Max's backstory
Last year I was honored when a friend invited me to join the board of directors of a non-profit called Taking the Reins. The program teaches life skills through horses, riding, and even has an urban farming program. The focus is on underserved girls in the community. Girls who come to the program struggling in school, or so timid they were afraid to speak learn how to take care of the horses, then learn to ride, and go on to compete. All the while building the skills and confidence they need in life so they can go on to college and careers. Some even stay on to teach and help others.
It’s a wonderful organization that has helped hundreds of girls. Proof that healing and growth with the help of horses works for people of any age.
During a recent board meeting, we were discussing business and considering whether we wanted to make changes. Sitting next to the organization’s inspirational executive director, I heard her let out a sigh and in that moment of quiet, she shared some thoughts.
She said that it feels as though in our community, even in the world, there is so much change going on that it would be good if we hold fast and maintain our steady and successful state.
It resonated with me so much. I felt this in my bones. We all felt it. And based on many conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks, seems like we’re all feeling it. Changes can be beneficial, some less so, but there is a case to be made for embracing stability when and where you can.
Compassion, consideration, and love are constants we can all cling to. They may take different forms, or are shown in different ways, but they are like water, essential for life.
At this time of year however, I find myself more in tune with stress, annoyance, and frustration and can completely relate to the Grinch. Up there is in his cozy cave, doing his thing, with just his dog for company and a general distain for everyone else. Not feeling any need to work on himself or deal with the outside world. Not having to force the happiness he’s not feeling into the holidays.
In a conversation with a friend, I was describing this year as “spiritual whack-a-mole”. Just as you get one thing under control, up pops another varmint ready to test your resolve and your fortitude.
In the infrequent moments when everything seems calm, it’s still impossible to relax. It can’t be trusted. Because any moment now up comes the next smelly critter. And that Grinch cave starts looking pretty good.
Let’s be honest, compassion and kindness are all very well, but once you’ve had your ass handed to you, things get more challenging.
Since I lost my dog to bone cancer a year and a half ago, I’ve been determined not to get another one. At least not for a long time. I have horses that take my time and money, and I don’t have room in my life, and maybe my heart, for yet another responsibility.
Of course, I have friends who cannot help themselves as they send me picture of dog after dog, all needing a home. I’ve told them no, but they send them anyway, sometimes with the audacity to add the caption, “Sorry, not sorry”.
Recently I received a video of a German Shepherd (I have a soft spot for them) who was sent to the shelter by her family to make room for a new puppy (yeah, I know, some people are awful). Fortunately, a rescue interceded and found a foster family for her, but they were leaving town for a couple of weeks and needed a temporary foster while they were away.
Just a couple of weeks. I can do that. Even during whack-a-mole season. If the constant I need in my life to dispel all the hard stuff is acts of loving kindness, I can do this one thing for this one dog. I mean, hey, even the Grinch had a dog.
This dog’s name is Alya. She is nervous but sweet. It is clear she’s had some trauma and losing her home and family has affected her deeply.
Walking with her in my neighborhood the other night, we stopped to look at the decorations. It was cool out, and the lights were lovely. I had to take a moment to reassure Alya that blow up Santa was not a scary monster and once she relaxed we just stood there, breathing in the night air, and just sharing space.
And just like the Grinch, I felt my heart grow a few sizes. Making room for another soul who needs some kindness and stability in her life.
My very first foster dog. And I failed.
Decorations come out once a year, but the feeling and spirit of the holidays really can, and does, exist all year. Love is always the perfect gift.
Welcome home, Alya.
For more information about Taking the Reins, takingthereins.org
Wonderful rescue that brought me Alya, pupswithoutborders.org.