how a wild rescue dog taught me about love

 

faint echo of you
remains everywhere I go
I miss you, old girl

Last Monday at 10:20 am, we said goodbye forever to our sweet old girl Emma. It was a tender and painful day, especially since we had spent the past 15 years making sure Emma knew she was loved regardless of her quirky and neurotic cattle dog ways. And Emma gave us more in return than we could have ever expected.

Emma came to our world in the form of a skinny and skittish coyote-looking rescue dog who was frightened of everything. Emma whimpered and yelped far more than she ever barked and she fulfilled her herding duties by nipping at the heels and backsides of the children in our lives. She was a dog on a mission, and that quickly turned out to be chasing as many balls and sticks as possible and making sure that when we left the house, the garbage and cupboards were given a thorough examination, leaving piles of trash and torn up containers in her work zone. When we were with her, Emma made sure that she was either near us or watching us as much as possible, and up until her last breath, she offered a gentle and trusting presence to our lives.

With Emma’s death, I’ve lost one of my greatest teachers of unconditional love, trust, and the value of free-spirited play. Emma has taught me more about the significance of letting go and the importance of cultivating patience than any spiritual guide could have, and even in her absence, I can feel the pull of her teachings in our tiny little home. I recognize the spaces of time that I filled by kissing, loving, feeding, cleaning, and being with her and her pile of toys sits as a reminder that the floor is as good a place as any to work out unwanted frustrations or negative energy. Just grab a plush toy and shake it wildly and in just a few moments, all worry melts into nonsense and the world seems to be a better place.

So, today, in honor of our sweetest and most wildly unique Emma dog, we will take our time and soak in every moment. The bright blooms of spring and the vigorous flight of the birds in our yard seem to echo our bursting hearts. Every tender moment a reminder to love fully and to live in a way that matters.