Two years ago I adopted my second little four-legged curly bundle of sweetness, an eleven pound mini-poodle mix named Pete. Pete is my shadow when I’m on the move and my appendage when I’m seated. His needs are few and simple, his joy is pure, and his love transparent without hidden demands or agendas. Pete spends his days enjoying what so many of us miss in our hurried, rushed lives: peace, love, and joy. We are living during a tumultuous time when peace seems particularly elusive. Hate is on the rise and innocents are being killed for being the “wrong” gender, race, religion, ethnicity, nationality or species. Reading or listening to the news has become an exercise in endurance; there are times I shun yet another photograph of suffering or stop reading the details of a dreadful incident. At those moments, I realize my breathing is shallow and my heart is pounding. It is too much.
And then I look at Pete. Just making eye contact with him is enough to get his tail wagging like a metronome gone wild. His floppy ears relax and he jumps up for a pat on the head. Pete lives in this moment and only in this moment, even though his past included some horrendous days. This little guy is not bitter or angry. Wow.
I am so very fortunate to have Pete as my living, breathing reminder of what is most important. However, we all can consciously and deliberately produce our own reminders to pause, breathe, and be grateful for all that is right and all that is good. It may be freezing outside, but we can snuggle under a quilt with a good book. We may be dealing with challenges at work, but we can be grateful we have a job that may serve as a stepping stone to a fulfilling future. While so many world events feel overwhelming, we can light a candle, say a prayer and hug our loved ones. So much is out of our control, yet how we respond is very much within our control.
I am writing this as Pete sleeps on my lap, his back half under my desk and his head sticking out far enough to be heated by the sun streaming through the window. His twelve pound sister, Sammi, also a rescue dog, is snoozing in her bed next to us. (See “Sunlight.”) My small office floor is littered with water and food dishes, toys, dog beds and blankets. On my desk is a container of dog treats. These pups and their accoutrements bring me peace, love and joy. This must be how Pete feels. He deserves it. We all do.