Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…”In the shadow of the tripod there is no empty space”.
Every pet in our home has a background story…none of them are pleasant…some are much worse than others. But, for the most part, our pets are “over it” in regards to things that happened to them in the past. They live happy and carefree lives. Even Turnip, who has deep emotional scars, has come so far and embraced joy. Mom though, being the flawed human that I am, doesn’t always “get over it” as quickly as they do. I have moments, when I am reminded of their painful stories and I quickly retreat to feelings of anger and heart break.
Snoopy came here with a badly broken leg…we were told he was kicked down a flight of stairs…he was just 3 months old. His leg was broken so badly there was no choice but to amputate it. Unfortunately, he died under anesthesia when the vet attempted his amputation. The vet resuscitated him but he woke up blind and of course still having a badly broken leg. This is when Bret and I started fostering him. He stayed with us in an understandably hastily applied splint that caused him a lot of discomfort for weeks. We waited for a strengthening of his health to undergo a second attempt at amputation. With his vision restored and health stabilized Snoopy made it through a second attempt to amputate his leg. Bret and I officially adopted Snoopy the day before his amputation. We wanted him going in to his surgery knowing he had a huge family pulling for him. Waiting for his surgery to end was agony and we learned a new level of compassion for our veterinary team.
Make no bones about it…a puppy suffers CRUELLY after an amputation. Snoopy screamed…and I mean SCREAMED with pain for weeks. He was confused and he was frustrated. He would wake up from a dead sleep and start screaming…sometimes 10+ times in a night…nothing we did comforted him. Only Buster could bring him any level of comfort. Buster would run to him and lick his head when he cried. The entire scenario was horrible. But slowly…Snoopy regained his strength and his courage and definitely his joy.
Today…Snoopy (now 8 months old) is SO OVER IT..he is UNSTOPPABLE on three legs. He is the happiest and most playful puppy I have ever met…and frankly…he can be pretty naughty. Remarkably…he just loves people….all of them. Humanity does not deserve him. He is pure joy.
Unlike Snoopy, Bret and I will never forget his suffering. We didn’t leave his side after his amputation…we learned a lot about what it means to be both heart broken and madly angry at the same time.
When I had that moment the other day when I saw his “tripod shadow”…a poignant reminder of the cruelty he suffered…I became angry all over again…”he shouldn’t have to live as a tripod”…”he shouldn’t’ have had to suffer through an amputation”…I was wishing again I could get my hands on the S.O.B. who did this to him.
But while I am thinking all these toxic thoughts…Snoopy just turned, looked at back at me and shamed me with this smile. He’s over it and I need to get over it too.
Snoopy is fine…he can run fast, he can wrestle with his siblings, he can dig…he can snuggle fabulously…he certainly eats like a little piggy…he is a perfectly happy dog. I need to just get busy loving him and let go of his past.
The moral of the story is this…which again…I didn’t realize it until I finished this post…there is no “empty space” in life. When I was in seminary…one of the most powerful lessons I learned was from my favorite Old Testatment professor, Dr. Howard. I worked for him as his TA my last year…it was the year Bret and I lost our baby boy…I was completely crushed…probably the lowest I have ever felt in my life. He told me this very important truth when I expressed my despair to him…he said “just like it is in the physical world…so is it in the spiritual world…there is no “empty space”…you can fill your life with joy and gratitude and love or you can fill it with sadness, resentment and pain…there is no room for both…regardless of the difficulty of your circumstances …you must choose what you will fill your life with.” Not only will I remember Dr. Howard’s insightful words always…but I will forever remember Snoopy’s smile as a reminder of this wisdom…I will remember how easy it is for Snoopy to live this truth…Snoopy will remind me always that we must choose what we fill our lives with…no matter the circumstances.
I’m with Snoopy…I choose joy and gratitude and love. Snoopy and I wish that for everyone else too.
This is Snoopy’s first Pawffiti. It was auctioned in February for $375.00 to raise money for animals in Scott County (Snoopy’s home town). Prints are available at my ETSY shop.