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I can’t tell you how often I’ve been told that rescuing dogs isn’t feasible because they have too much baggage. My response is usually some variation:  “If you’re a living, breathing, thinking, feeling being who’s been on this planet for any time, your past is part of you. However, I’ve met dogs at the shelters I’ve volunteered with protruding ribs and scabby faces who shouldn’t trust me but lean in for love the instant they meet me.”

We all lug luggage through our lives,  but if we can find coordinating carry-ons, we can help each other heal, grow, and love more than we ever imagined.

Miss Mabel’s lavender and lemon paisley luggage pairs perfectly with my teal and tangerine polka-dotted tote. We both stress ourselves out by overthinking. When we feel anxious or antsy, we get into the can’t-stop-won’t-stop mode. 

This week, Mabel and I went to our sniffer spot, Scioto Grove Metro Park. And as I pulled up, my heart started racing because they were mowing the lawns. Gavin was terrified of lawnmowers, something I didn’t know after living downtown for years where few people had yards until we moved in with my brother in the suburbs, where someone always seemed to be whacking weeds or trimming grass. 

Mabel quickly hopped out of the car, looked around the park, and then back at me like she was ready. As we walked, I realized that I’m still carrying guilt over living where Gavin had to endure sounds that scared him. I’m unsure when I’ll be able to let that go, but now I know.

My sweet girl and I meandered to an open area she usually loves, but the last time we walked that path, she paused like something ahead scared her. Though I couldn’t see or hear anything, we ambled away. Because of my past with Finn, I learned to listen to what he was saying. And, my sweet boy Gavin showed me that any second of compassion I offered him would come back to me in triple-fold as inner peace and harmony. 

Mabel pranced ahead like whatever spooked her before wasn’t there or threatening any longer, so off were as she merrily sniff-walked towards another area that I’d ruled out because it was super muddy, filled with mosquitos and I learned scary-to-Mabel kayakers.

That day, it seemed quiet, so we wandered down toward the water, and I noticed a path to my right. As Mabel sniff-shuffled-bounced along, I was so grateful to finally find the quiet footpath with a canopy of trees to shield us from the sun that we both needed. The longer we lumbered, the lighter my load felt. The simple joy of sharing a leisurely walk with my dog in a mild temperature lifted my spirit like nothing else can. 

Mabel stretched out on the sofa after we came home, and I opened my laptop with the biggest smile, ready to work on marketing. I’ve been so focused on fixing all our equipment issues and finding and training the fantastic people who work with me now that we’ve hit a lull in sales. The business part of my brain tells me it’s the ebb and flow of entrepreneurship, but my inner catastrophizer has to do stuff to calm the chatter. 

So, I’m doing what I always do when I’m unsure about the future, maybe a little worried, I’m giving back. Today and tomorrow, I’ll donate 15% of all profits to Hinsdale Humane Society. And, to honor all the people doing amazing work in shelters and rescues and as volunteers, I’m offering increased affiliate commissions to 15% through tomorrow, too (make sure it’s clear you help homeless pets, and I’ll manually make the commission change when I approve your application). 

Today and this weekend, let’s acknowledge our baggage, own our quirks, celebrate what we carry that makes us who we are, and maybe we’ll find our favorite twin totes along our paths.

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