Turnaround

Only in Savannah would you find purebred puppies running loose in the streets.

 We have had a wild ride the last day or so:  one of the city’s many stray dogs literally arrived on our doorstep late yesterday afternoon.

 I had gone out front to sit on the brick steps for five minutes and bask in their accumulated heat, which I often do when it’s cold inside the house (the sun is always shining in Savannah!)

 I hadn’t been there a moment before a scruffy little dog trotted by, sans owner.  I craned my neck down the block, trying to see if someone was with him . . . very soon it was clear he was traveling solo.

 The four-lane highway to the beach (US Route 80) runs one block parallel to us, so whenever I see a loose dog, I make an effort to grab him before he makes his way toward certain doom amidst the fast-moving traffic so nearby.

 This one was no effort at all.  I made one small kissy noise from my stoop, and he was in my lap—not to move from there for the next 24 hours.  (I have always had an image of myself as a big-dog kind of gal.  Indeed, the only dog I ever owned was a German Shepherd-y mutt.)  This little Yorkie showed me the joys of small dog ownership.

 In the car running errands, there he was, standing on short hind legs to peer out the window.  In the back yard he clambered into my chair.  On the couch he was a cuddle monster.

 Sure, he had his vices . . . in spite of our cat’s extremely gracious and tolerant welcome, he behaved like a spastic derp—alienating her at first, only to be given a second (and a third, and a fourth) chance, and blowing it then, too . . .

 An un-neutered male, he developed a disturbing relationship with a treat-filled Kong toy we offered him (I won’t go into detail, lest this post cross over out of G-rating).  He had clearly never learned to walk on a leash.  He smelled strongly doggy (but in that good, maple-syrup sort of way).   His bark earned him the middle name “Chuckles” from my daughter—the high-pitched, breathy yap sounded almost like laughing, even though it was plaintive.

 But he was a total sweetheart.  He adopted our family instantly—barking at passersby that first night.  Jumping for joy when reunited after brief separation . . . everyone who saw him fell in love with him.

 I wanted to keep him.  I had an inkling he might have come from “the wrong side of the tracks,” and I thought it likely that he might vanish into the vast statistics of “strays” here in Savannah . .  . Even though we made sure to do our due diligence (calling Animal Control, Humane Society, posting “Found Dog” flyers all throughout the neighborhood, an ad on Craig’s List, and even in the PennyPincher, a posting on the board at the neighborhood veterinarian’s office), I thought he was likely to slip through the socioeconomic divide . . . and become mine.

 We had two near-miss responses to our postings by noon, and I was growing more and more certain he would be ours, when a terse reply came through via CraigsList:  “I saw your posting and that’s my puppy Ian.  Call me.”  We agreed to meet in the nearby park, and, sure enough, it was a bona fide match.

 Ian (pronounced Ee-on, it turned out, and dubbed by our daughter “Sir Martin Chuckles of Yorkshire”) was not ours, after all.  It was a quick turnaround.

 When his true family pulled up to claim him, Grandma got out of the van and held out her arms, real tears in her eyes.  Ee-on bounded toward her.  Then a daughter, barely 20, and her bi-racial son (who evidently called the dog “Brother”) reunited as well, scooping the little dog into a family hug.  Grandma said, “Oh, thank God, thank God, we didn’t sleep last night.  [Daughter] was crying and crying, and . . . oh, thank God . . . “

 Well.  That was quite the reframe for me, because I too had hardly slept last night, and also on account of Ee-on.  But for me it was because he was barking, or scritching at himself or the bedroom door, or noisily humping his Kong.  Or because I was worried he would pee in my bedroom, the way he had several times in the PetSmart when we went to get him food and a leash (and that Kong) . . .

But that other family—Ee-on’s real family—hadn’t slept because they were frantic with worry.  They were imagining him dead by the side of Highway 80.  They were grieving in advance the loss of this furry angel who had kept them company through a teen pregnancy, a father away in military service, a life of economic scarcity . . .

 That simple sentence:

“We didn’t sleep last night.”

meant such very different things for us, respectively.  We couldn’t sleep because we had the puppy.  They couldn’t sleep because they didn’t.

 The strange, mirror-image nature of this fact reminded me of the yoga idea called pratipaksha bhavanam —or turnaround:

When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of.  This is pratipaksha bhavana. (Yoga Sutras II.33)

I have always understood this concept to mean substituting positive thoughts for negative ones . . . but maybe it just means to bring our awareness to our perspective of a situation.  And realize that there might be others.  This also makes me think of The Work of Byron Katie.

 Anyway . . . as Grandma hugged me tight and thanked me, still crying from joy, I could see clearly from this more panoramic perspective.  While I honestly mourned “losing” my temporary companion, I was glad at the same time that he was going back home.  I could see both sides of the coin.

 Things sure seem a lot quieter around the house today now that Ee-on has gone.  At least the cat is happy about that.