|When I left the dog shelter Monday, my heart and soul were peaceful after volunteering with two dogs. One dog was silly and sweet, and the other was super shy, so she and I sat on the floor together after a short stroll outside on a beautiful sunny day, and I let her tell me what she needed. It seemed all she wanted was to be next to me. Ah, the many gifts of being with a dog. Our presence and company are enough as is.|
Afterward, I had an appointment for an oil change at a new mechanic I found haphazardly in October after panicking that my key fob was broken. When I made the appointment that morning, the lovely human remembered me, and we had this beautiful connection, even over the phone. When I walked in, the nameplate on her desk read, “I’m kind of a big deal,” I chuckle-snuffled because, as I try to heal my heart from Gavin’s passing, I write my sweet boy love letters. And, when he writes back, his response to me telling him how much I miss him is, “of course you miss me. I was a big deal.”
In those moments, I see his face, often laughing, with cheese or grass or a stick hanging on his tongue or off his lip, tail thumping wildly. I shared that story with the dazzling and delightful human behind the counter and learned that she, too, is a dog lover and was struggling to figure out how to help her dog with his separation anxiety.
She continued that her veterinarian gave her medication, but she was reluctant to use it because her family’s response was unsupportive and dismissive. I don’t know her dog, so I asked, “have you ever experienced anxiety?” And she shared that she has horrific panic attacks on planes, so extreme that she was almost put on a flight risk list, and because of her family’s reaction to her anxiety, she doesn’t use her prescribed medication when she travels.
My first reaction was, “I’m so sorry. People don’t know the power of their words.”
Sometimes, we mean well, but even with good intentions, our words add to other people’s struggles. Perhaps, when unsure what to say, we think of Thumper before we speak and honestly think about how we can be as thoughtful and compassionate as possible. Or, just say, “I’m sorry.”
Maybe it’s why we love dogs so much. They don’t wait their turn to speak when we talk to them. They don’t one-up our woes. Even boisterous barky dogs don’t inadvertently hurt our feelings with their voice. Today and this weekend, may we channel our inner Thumper and use our words for kindness. May we look to our dogs when we don’t know what to say and sit silently next to someone who needs us just listening.