MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Joy of Dog

I woke up yesterday morning in a funk. I recognized the familiar feeling that I get when I let myself get out of balance. Too much computer time. Okay, sure, it's necessary for an author, I know. But, I am a "hands on" person and need a strong dose of real life interaction each day, with people and animals, to balance my cyber life. I got that dose beautifully yesterday thanks to Maddie, my rescued black lab. Of course given that it was December 9, the day looked nothing this summer mountain photo with Maddie!

You see, it was Maddie's first official day of work as a therapy dog at the juvenile center. She got the nod of approval last week from administration and met briefly with the kids. I'll share more detail in a future blog post about the hour Maddie spent with the kids, and what else I get to do with the kids at the center that I'm excited about. For now, suffice it to say she brought smiles to all eight of them as she engaged and played with each one.

When we finished and walked out into the parking lot, I was almost on a high. What happened to my funk? As Maddie dove headfirst into the snow next to the parking lot, submerged herself, rolled joyfully and kicked her feet out with snow flying in every direction, I laughed out loud. I realized just then that I'd been smiling from the moment I walked into the juvenile center over an hour earlier. Hmmm. So that's where the funk went-- transformed once again by the magic of DOG, this black bundle of joy-- my Maddie. Just as she transformed the kids inside and brought them into the present moment, even if only briefly. Maggie, my black lab soulmate I wrote my book about, was the first dog to teach me this lesson of living in the now...the first dog to bring elation and playfulness to my life each day. How blessed are we to have these angels to remind us, to help us out of our bad moods by reminding us to stay present and find the joy right before our eyes?

Our next stop was the Mt. Sanitas Valley Trail, where Maggie and I took numerous hikes together during her lifetime. Once off leash, Maddie flashed ahead, again buried her entire body in the snow, then tucked her butt in the same way that Maggie used to do her tail-tuck- and-run. Maddie has somehow mastered doing it much more vertically, though, which I find hysterically funny! Yep, still smiling... Her joy has now become mine. Thank you, Baby Soul (one of my pet names for Ms. Maddie).

Then came a young black lab pup walking towards us with her person (7 months I learned seconds later). He spotted Maddie, and dashed towards her. "Hey, you're one of me!" Maddie seemed to agree with Oscar as they chased each other as fast as they could. Still smiling. How is it possible that a down mood can be replaced by an inner glee so quickly, simply by osmosis from Maddie's joy, and the joy of other dogs? Oscar and his guardian moved on.

We walked onward, then turned to come back down the trail. Maddie found a stick and her pride and joy grew-- I could see it in the way her prance shifted. We met up with the next dog/guardian couple. This pup grabbed Maddie's stick and clearly wanted Maddie to chase her. This little brindle eventually took off with Maddie stick as Maddie watched on, and took it in for a moment that her prized possession had been "stolen." No problem. Within seconds Maddie found a 4 1/2 foot dead pine tree limb. Yes, I said 4 1/2 feet! Head and tail raised, she strutted with it down the trail. Right then I realized that no, I hadn't been smiling. I'd been grinning ear to ear pretty much from the time we entered the juvenile center.

Not only did Maddie's joy transform my "funk" into delight, she also reminded me of the law of abundance. Lose your stick? No problem. There's always more where that came from. Can we lose our attachment to the things in our lives that readily and move on to "bigger & better" things as Maddie so easily did?

What has your dog taught you about joy and abundance lately? Or has he/she tried to get your attention, to teach you, to transform you, but you forgot to listen? I'd love to hear your stories ...

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of
MAGGIE the dog who changed my life A Story of Love



retriever farm said...

You made me smile! :) Just like my dogs always do every day just by wagging their cute little tails to great me!Can't wait to hear about your therapy work.

retriever farm said...

That should be greet me.

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

So glad I made you smile :)
There's nothing like their greeting, is there? Thanks for your interest in our therapy work!

Ingrid King said...

Beautiful post! Animals are the best teachers, aren't they? Like you, I find it challenging to balance computer time with "real life" time. My cat Amber always reminds me to step away from the computer and back into the real world - to feed her, pet her, or just admire her while she sleeps in the sunny spot in the living room.

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

Thanks, Ingrid. Maddie will come up and nudge my mouse hand as a reminder sometimes!

Barbara Techel said...

What a wonderful post, Dawn! I have witnessed all of these things time and time again too. Esepcially the therapy dog work end of things.
I was feeling sorry for myself today for various reasons (won't get into cause it is not the point)-- but I took Frankie to the hospital for a visit-- met a woman younger than me who has stage 4 breast cancer. visited with others in for chemo and various other issues-- left feeling so much better-- they were all thrilled to meet Frankie-- smiles abounded, despite some of their dire situations-- I no longer felt sorry for myself and felt ashamed for feeling sorry about the silly things I was.
It is SO AMAZING how animals remind us, help to transform us when we need it most... and I love being reminded of all that is grand in the world-- your post did just that for me. Thank you.

Barbara Techel
Award winning author of the Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog Book Series
My passion is bringing a positive face and voice to animals with disabilities
Frankie is Official Mascot for National Disabled Pets Day and
Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame Companion Dog

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life said...

Beautiful. You really get this, Barb, because you do the therapy work all the time. The gift is really ours, isn't it? Thanks for letting my know this post made a difference for you. And you know, if we didn't have some down moments, maybe we wouldn't recognize the great ones... Good to hear from you!