You are not old until you have more regrets than dreams.
– Howard Tullman
“Open the door and let it come in. It will fill your mind and dance with your heart.”
― Debasish Mridha
It is amazing how elastic the heart is. When we put Alja to sleep for the last time (all the euphemism for killing a dog are somehow terrible), I thought I would shatter. She had been very sick but we were hopeful that she could get better and then suddenly she was gone. For weeks, I couldn’t think of anything else. Even now, months later, things happen and I think how she would react and how she was. My Sweet Pea. I miss you.
But there has been a dog in our house for more than 17 years and eventually even in the pain I felt, I needed to hear the click of claws on the floor and feel warm fur under my hand. We wanted a Kuvasz because once you are experienced the strength, intelligence and loving openness of these dogs paired with an exceptional beauty, you want more of it. All of the breeders within reasonable travel distance weren’t expecting puppies for up to a year and somehow I didn’t want to wait that long. So we started looking for Kuvaszes to rescue and found German clubs that support Hungarian Shelters to place dogs. They had several Kuvaszes to adopt and we decided on Aranyosh. There were two cute videos of her and she looked so sweet. We also asked an animal communicator to talk to her to see if she would like to come. With everything seemingly ok, two weeks later I drove down to the parking lot in southern Germany where the Shelter brought several dogs to their new owners and was given a dirty, scarred, battered and terrified creature you almost couldn’t call a dog.
During the drive home, after a hefty struggle to shove her into the car, I was shell shocked. She didn’t look like a Kuvasz to me, and she was so scared, I thought we would never be able to deal with her. I called my husband still on the road and told him I still wanted to get a puppy because Aranyosh wasn’t what I had been expecting or wanting. When I finally got home, he carried her into the house because she wouldn’t come in on her own. She was trembling and laid herself right in front of the door and wouldn’t take another step into the house. It was nearly midnight so we just went to bed. The next morning, we thought about giving her back but I felt like we had made a commitment and that we couldn’t give back such a traumatized animal. It just wouldn’t be right. We would just have to figure out how to help her to trust us and find a home with us.
Fast forward 6 weeks. We are still struggling with some issues – parts of the house are still too scary to explore – but the change in her is amazing. A couple of baths (one wasn’t enough) and brushings and the magic of baloney (her favorite inducement to try something new) and you wouldn’t recognize her as that terrorized heap that I picked up in August. She is half the size of Alja so most of the neighbors have decided they like her better (I guess she isn’t so scary to them but they never really knew Alja). And also because she doesn’t bark quite as much but that is also changing as she more and more accepts that this is her house and her yard. And she loves to cuddle! She is still trying to train us to let her be outside 24/7 but baloney helps and when I sit on the couch to watch TV and knit, she is usually laying on her bed behind my shoulder, grunting every once in a while to let me know she is there. We have decided not to get a puppy at the moment. It seems like too much and we are afraid it would make her nervous again. But we are enjoying long walks with her through the woods and learning about who she is. We call her Yoshi. She can twist herself in amazing directions in her attempt to make you think she isn’t dangerous. So I had a Bunny Dog (Weia), a Monkey Dog (Alja) and now I have a Wormy Dog and my heart is learning to love again.
“To paraphrase several sages: Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.”
When I was a teenager, I heard my grandparents say over and over again that “things were better back then”. I swore I would never say it. But you know, that’s how it feels right now. Wow, the world has changed. It is not just the technology, staring at a phone 24/7, hours on a computer but it is a lot of things. We are disconnected in a way that I don’t remember in the past. Or maybe that isn’t what I mean.
I sense a current of frustration and dissatisfaction and fear that seems to make people tunnel into themselves or act out in aggressive ways. The lady in the store who shouted at me because I asked her where the end of the line was – one small example. But there are other things. Bigger things. The shootings, the beatings, the bombings. We seem to take them all in stride. Just one more sad post on Facebook, one more sad report in the news. What difference does it make to us individually in the end if a mother and father will never hold their child in their arms again? But there is something under all of this, an increase in the violence in the world. An increase in the use of “force” to achieve what we want, or to release our anger or to make us whole?
When a politician says, as one here in Germany recently did, that the refugees trying to reach the country need to be kept back from the borders even if that means that they need to be shot at. Some people are outraged, it is discussed in the media for 5 minutes and then it disappears. But there is something behind that and there are people – a lot of people – who believe that the politician was right. Violence is ok if you think you can justify it. You can see that on the streets, you can feel it in how people look at each other. The anger is building.
The violence seems to be everywhere. I can hardly watch “action” movies anymore. The level of violence has become so high that I don’t make it through the first 10 minutes. I admit to be a game freak but most of them I don’t play. It is only about killing the other guy. When video games started, people used to talk about how the violence would affect the children playing them. Does anybody talk about it now? Now that there are shootings in schools, or offices about once a week?
Nobody talks about the violence. Not really. It has become a part of every day. We are numb to it. When a politician suggests that his supporters will “riot” if he isn’t elected. Hardly a peep. That scares me. What is this for a world when it is suggested that voters will be bludgeoned into voting “the right way” and nobody says a word. I watched a video of a politician running for president where demonstrators hijacked the stage. The candidate and the other people on stage tried to find a solution to satisfy everyone but were cowed by the intense anger from the screaming young women. I was shocked. I felt catapulted back into the demos of the 60s. The violence was scary then too but it felt to me like there was a purpose that people were “fighting” for. It doesn’t feel like that now. Now it feels like they fight to fight. Is that because I am old? Have I become my grandparents and don’t understand where the world is today?
It seems to me that there is a lack of respect for the connection that makes us human, the connection that we have with all living things. It distress me to hear about suicide bombers. It distresses me to hear about violent acts against people. It distresses me to hear of young kids torturing animals, cats or dogs or whatever, just for fun. It seems to me that it is all happening more often. Is that only a result of the 24 hour news?
Or are we losing any connection to anything except the fantasy world presented through the miracle of electronics? Somehow to me, things were better “back then”.