Animals often get off to a rough start in life. So many cases of abuse, so many puppy mills, so many dogs dumped on the side of the road, so many horses sent to slaughter, mistreated, or “broke” (a term I’ve never quite understood, why would anyone want a broken horse?). Mosie was one of those unfortunate ones who experienced the evil of betrayal, young and up close. For her, to trust was hard, if not impossible, but what choice did she have?
Taking the usual route home from work, my husband turned down our short rural road on the home stretch to the farm. He was no doubt thinking of the exuberant greeting Sadie, our big hairy black dog, would be giving him soon; a daily ritual she never misses.
Suddenly, something was in the road. Slamming on his brakes, he stopped just before hitting a little yellow puppy. Narrowly missing death, this puppy’s luck was about to take a turn from hopeless terror to the kind of life every dog should have. Throwing the SUV into park, he quickly got out, knelt down and called for the little angel. Approximately eight weeks old, skinny and scared, she came running as if it were her last chance at life. Likely it was her last chance, she took it, and jumped into the arms of a man she had never seen before. She clung to a thread of hope on his shoulder the short distance home.
Standing at the end of the hallway, beaming ear to ear, he called for me. I was at the other end of the hall searching on the computer, searching for my purpose in life no doubt, more about that in a minute.
“Look what I found,” he proclaimed.
“Oh, sweetheart, what are we going to do with it?” I asked.
“We’re going to keep it!”
That’s what he always said when he brought a dog home, but he sounded serious about this one. Sadly, our road seems to be a dumping ground for unwanted dogs, another human practice I’ll never understand. We have always either found them homes ourselves or taken them to a local no kill shelter nearby for adoption. I knew this time was different. Being my usual overly practical self, I began an attempt to justify it staying by starting with some facts, “Boy or girl?” as if it mattered, “Short hair, nice size, and she is adorable,” I paused to think of what I would say next, then this came from my husband, “You need her.”
Those three words sank deep, “I need her?”
I hated to admit it but, yes, I did need her. Only two months had passed since losing my job and my career as a research scientist. It seemed as though all the schooling, training and hard work had been for naught. The small startup I had originally gone to work for was purchased by the world’s largest biotech company. Being a little fish in an ocean we didn’t last long after the takeover. Our site was closed, all employees were terminated, and our business swallowed up after three short years. Having literally “bought the farm,” and with family close by, we could not consider moving, and with that my career was gone. I was feeling a bit betrayed myself at that time, like I also had been dumped along the side of the road unwanted.
“We need each other,” I said while taking her in my arms, and with that we launched our new beginning together.
Mosie has come a long way since that day. However, her emotional scars run deep, her trust shallow. She remains suspicious of strangers, especially those with a negative energy. While she grows daily in her trust of us, when watched closely, small indications of fear buried deep inside are still evident. A little flinch here, that look in her eye, that subtle retreat of her paw from my hand while petting her. She has forgiven the human who mistreated her long ago, she longs to erase those experiences from her memory, but like us, she has not forgotten the pain.
We all gather scars throughout our lives, some are deeper than others. We all have times when we long for a new beginning, when we have no choice but to try and trust again. We too, take the risk, and run for help, hoping that the shoulder we are lying on will carry us to that new place where we are happy, healthy and loved. Never forgetting the past, but allowing the present good to push it deeper and deeper inside, so that our capacity for love and happiness grows with each passing day.
A new beginning most of the time is just the start of a new journey. One that we hope has less bumps. Enjoy the journey.
Would you like to read more stories like this? Please visit my website for more Mental Morsels with Dr. Cearley. Learning life principles from the farm.