A Lesson in Acceptance From My Dogs

dogsDogs have a special place in my heart. I’ve always had at least one in my home. Right now, we have five who provide outlets for what limited parental needs my husband and I have.

But just last week, in a matter of a few terrifying minutes, my feelings about them changed and it saddens me. I will spare the graphic details, but I was caught up in the middle of a violent fight with three of my dogs. It was so intense that I thought one of them would be killed and I would be seriously injured. We’re all physically on the mend with the help of stitches and antibiotics (and a tetanus shot for me). The mental healing, however, will take longer. At least for me anyway. It was traumatic being in the midst of that violence. That these were beings I loved, only complicated matters.

When you are inches away from a pet whose eyes are so full of rage that they cannot register your existence, it changes you–how you feel about them, how you interact with them. Giving them treats by hand is now a challenge since I worry about being bitten. Whenever they get a little too rambunctious, I get nervous that it will blow up into something bigger, which is how “the incident” as I call it, first occurred.

“Happiness can only exist in acceptance.” George Orwell

Knowing that I can’t live with dogs I’m afraid of and getting rid of them is not an option, I’ve been looking for ways to mend our little family. Thinking back to other busted relationships, I realized I would often get stuck in some instance where I felt wronged, unable to move on from whatever resentment, hurt, or anger I felt. In order for me to feel better, the other person, I reasoned, needed to fix it. Meanwhile, I held on to the pain, thinking it would somehow transform with enough time and pressure, like a lump of coal turning into a diamond. Given that my previous approach was highly ineffective, I needed to find a new way to repair the damage.

“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.” Eckhart Tolle

Taking a cue from the dogs, who seemed to have all moved on from “the incident,” I’ve learned that in order to move forward, I need to accept things as they are and let go of the past. I will not keep fear clenched tightly in my hands. Otherwise, my hands would not be open to receive those wonderful, full-bodied dog hugs or give a good belly rub.  And what else matters when it comes to having dogs?

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