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What suprises you more?

What suprises you more? When someone does something kind or when someone does something rotten? For myself, I am honestly not sure which suprises me more. Or perhaps swap the word suprise for shock.

In a world full of terrible news…a never-ending saga of humans behaving badly…you would think that bad behavior would not shock me anymore. But it does. It shocks me to the core and it wears on my psyche, as I am sure it does for everyone these days. I am not sure what that means…does it mean that I harbor hope and that I know deep down the world doesn’t have to be the way it is? Or am I just really naive?

At the same time, I experience a similar shift in psyche when someone does something unexpectedly and extraordinarily kind. Why does kindness take me by surprise? My daily life is pretty insular. Most days, I don’t even leave the manor. The person I interact with the most is my husband, who is incredibly kind to me. When kindness comes from someone else, I am genuinely shocked.

One of the guests in my vacation rental left a very sweet note when she checked out, as well as $50 for the dogs. Most guests come and go from the vacation rental without a word being spoken between us… which is fine… I want my guests to feel they have privacy. Some guests are friendly and want to meet and chat. Some guests are just extraordinarily kind and make a gesture that goes way above and beyond. When I went out to the rental after this couple checked out, I was feeling very low… too much news, stress, chores, worry about Lacey… my guest’s note completely lifted my spirit and shifted my day. It wasn’t the money, though that was really sweet to leave the dogs some money, it was that someone took a few minutes to express some gratitude and kindness. It completely changed the tone of my day.

It reminded me of a principle I have printed on my wall in my studio… If you want to have a good day, do good things… So simple… But also so powerful. I have 100% control over how my day feels.

I don’t have control over anything outside of my own behavior…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a rippling impact on the world…kindness truly is contagious…one small gesture can entirely change someone else’s day…do good things…spread as much joy as you can in this terribly broken world.

We have been having great weather in Kentucky lately… perfect for enjoying a lot of outside play with the Misfits. Halloween season is my favorite time of the year… the weather, the colors, scary movies… fall baking and canning. I hope you are enjoying the fall season as much as we are.

On the journey,

Nancy & The Misfits

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: the essence of “dogness”

This photo was taken the 2nd time I did a training session with Buster. I did all the work for those first few sessions...I worked to earn his trust.
This photo was taken the 2nd time I did a training session with Buster. I did all the work for those first few sessions…I worked to earn his trust.

A few days ago I was out walking with Turnip…I had a very sweet “ah ha” moment when I realized that Turnip was walking like a normal dog and has been for a long time…I think I have taken his progress for granted…relaxed…tail up…sniffing…no fear.  He has changed so much, albeit gradually, that when I paused to think about it…the change in him….seems like magic…it makes me smile.   It got me thinking about how much both Buster and Turnip have changed since we met them last year.

Bret and I have always had a soft heart for the creatures that have some challenges…maybe we can both relate.   Turnip was challenged by pretty much everything…door ways…stairs…men…blowing leaves…noises…when I started walking him I had to lure him with ham while he slithered on his belly a bit further down the driveway each day.   We used to have leave the room to get him to go in and out the door for potty breaks.   There was a time when he would not let anyone but me near him…now he will take food from the hands of strangers and a select few can pet him.

Pet Rescue Photo Art

Buster loves the girls...and they love him.
Buster loves the girls…and they love him.

Buster was a different type of special…he was bred to work…to guard…he just needed to find his rhythm (and some boundaries) for a successful family life.  He found them.   But in hindsight he has changed dramatically…Buster lived at a kennel when I first started working with him..I was uncomfortable letting him near my own dogs.  Now he is a ladies man…all of our fosters fall in love with him and any human that visits is his new best friend.  Don’t get me wrong…Buster is not a dog to trifle with…but he figured out where he fits here and he does everything with enthusiasm.

Watching Buster and Turnip change has been rewarding…Bret and I are deeply invested in both of them…we work hard with our dogs that need extra help…these two have taken an extraordinary amount of our time.  Our investment in them seems so much larger since we took in the girls this year (Lucy, Luna & Maddie).  The girls are so laid back and well adjusted…they were an immediate and effortless fit here.  The contrast between the boys and the girls made me think more about investing time in relationships general…do I afford people the same “space and grace” that I am more than happy to give the dogs?   Do any of us?  Do I work as hard at relationships with difficult humans as I did with Buster and Turnip?  I had a wicked determination with Buster…giving up was not an option.  What if I had that same determination with people?

Best Day Ever...the day we adopted Turnip.
Best Day Ever…the day we adopted Turnip.

Buster has such a big personality...
Buster has such a big personality…

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile…my conclusion is that I need to re-frame how I choose to interact with humans.  If I could get away with it I would interact with people very little…its not that I don’t “like” people…I’m just an introvert…I prefer to be a lone…I have fun when I am alone…if I don’t get enough time alone than I am not myself.  If I have been around a lot of people for an extended amount of time (even though I enjoy it) I will be exhausted.   I am comfortable with being an introvert and I make sure to protect the boundaries I need to stay spiritually and emotionally healthy.  But its possible I have been using my introversion as an excuse to not extend more grace to people in general.  I think about the most basic things I afforded to Buster and Turnip while they figured things out…it was space (to figure things out at their own pace) and grace (remaining consistently caring no matter what kind of shenanigans were going on).  I suppose those are the same two things most would say they would afford their children.  But do we afford them to adults?  Buster and Turnip had tremendous baggage…they were not young puppies to shape and socialize…they were emotionally banged up…as most adult humans are…as I am.  If you looked at either of these dogs on the outside…they looked like handsome, healthy adult dogs…not so on the inside….as is the case with most adults…myself included.   What would happen if I worked harder at seeing Buster and Turnip in everyone?

FB_IMG_1450344878989There is a dog person saying, you’ve heard it….”the more people I get to know the more I like dogs”…its kind of a funny saying…and often it can be true.  But it also flies in the face of the essence of “dogness”…the very glory of a dog is its unconditional love and tolerance for humans.  If there is no human for them to love…than there is no “dogness”.  The intrinsic nature of a dog is rooted in its relationship to us.  We rob dogs of their wonder if we don’t afford humans the same space, grace and effort that the dog’s give us.  Perhaps the main reason dogs are here for us to reflect them…to reflect their “dogness” in to our own relationships…I want more “dogness” in my own essence…

Rescue On!