When my son decided to buy a little mini Australian shepherd on Facebook, I told him he didn’t have the time and how much work it would be. I began to help out with this little fellow named Banjo. On our walks this puppy would bite at my colorful gloves because he thought they were toys. He was a tad skittish and shy around other people. This invoked something painful deep inside of me. I became a grandmother for the first time in my life. I found myself popping over to check on him in his crate when he was alone. The walks became more frequent. Impulsive buys on Chewy for toys and pig ears. This of course was all very controlled due to my extremely busy work schedule. But then something happened. COVID. I was shutdown. Unable to work. For the first time in my life, I was forced to become frozen. Banjo became my purpose. It was pure bliss. Every day we hiked, played in the creek and experienced the beginning of Spring together. Banjo had a love of chasing sticks and getting muddy. SPRING was alive and so was Banjo’s adolescence. Not quite a year old, he was growing into a young prince. Sweet, polite, and rebellious. We were both ecstatic to see each other every day for our time. Dogs are so WOKE. My relationship with Banjo has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life right now.
Dogs so patiently wait for us. If humans checked themselves in this way throughout the day for others imagine the difference we would have in our very own personal relationships. Every dog that is loved holds patience, kindness, gentleness, appreciation, and a pure zest for life. Dogs are definitely living their best selves. These are the most precious lessons that I have learned from my sweetest companion.
1. Love and Protection. Banjo loves me no matter what. He waits patiently if I need to send an email or take a call. He accommodates me in so many ways that I am astonished. So much of the day we humans pick apart our most beloved circle of friends and family. We look for faults or opposition many times before acceptance and tolerance. If only we trotted around in love, what kind of a world would we live in?
2. Balance. Zen. Flow. Nothing stops with my relationship with Banjo. He always gives as much as he gets. He is so grateful for every single thing that I do for him that it touches me. I also notice that he wants to help in his curiosity and is constantly trying to figure out my routine. If a pen drops, he hears it. He is fully present in the sacred now. This is the Tao, out of the matrix and into the now. The rhythm and flow of what is, with no resistance. This is the underlying ground of all wisdom. Even at times if I’m busy, he patiently wait for his walk. How can humans learn to walk with no resistance to what is around us. Dogs live wide open in this rhythm naturally.
3. Exploration and Adventure. Banjo has given me so much adventure in the last year. Little did I know how much yearning I had for Mother Nature. I have grown even more fond of our community through our local dog park, river paths, and simple strolls downtown. Walks turned to hiking. We now do three and four mile trails in our explorations and are beginning to scale out eight and nine mile trails. I would have never discovered my deep passion for hiking, if I had not had my time with Banjo. He helps me simply, just by being a good friend. He has also learned to stay close to my side during our walks and hikes. I have even began to run again, just short distances on and off. This is an exercise I haven’t enjoyed in a very long time.
4. Continuous Growth. I have always believed that if we do not change throughout life, we are not taking advantages of many important lessons. Dogs continue to change and grow. Banjo as a puppy detested bath time. He would hide behind the bed or behind my son for protection when he knew it was bath time. Now he sees me began pulling out his bath items; doggy shampoo, two towels, and i put on my bathing suit, and he runs to the bathtub prepared to jump in for bath time. He pushes through his dislikes and fears. His anxiety becomes high when we find new trails. Every time he begins to get nervous and pushes through to new terrain. Continuous growth from Banjo to continue to venture out of his comfort zones.
5. Banjo reminds me to be a better person. A dog’s life, as short as it is, is a precious gift for us to learn from. As much as he appreciates and adores me, it reminds me to walk authentically in every action. Every relationship that Banjo has in his world is loving. I like who I am with Banjo. He reminds me to slow down and make it a priority to do what I love. Time is a precious commodity and every day can be new and interesting in its own way.
6. Banjo has a distinct personality with individual gifts. Banjo is Vata / Kapha Dosha in Ayurveda. He jumps as if he is air. There is a trot to his energy. He is hilarious and understands humor. He has a wide smile and shows all of his teeth when he is happy. He has a possessive side to him. He does not like for Ava to go near his food and he will not let us play with his favorite bone. He also his protective and super cuddly. Isn’t it funny how each dog has his very own personality and gifts. Banjo is high anxiety so he must have a lot of exercise. Such adaptability, even with his gifts of adventure. This reminds me that we too, can adapt and learn if we grow. It is essential that we accept the things we cannot change like our precious pets do.
7. A gift from Source. Sometimes a pet shows up when we need it the most. My Ava came to me twelve years ago when I was about to go through one of the most difficult times of my life. And Banjo came around to keep me company for Covid. It would have never been such a joyous time without him. He has been here for me through the lockdown and I couldn’t have had a more chill teacher.
If people would live in the realms of their highest selves, like our dogs, imagine what a different world it would be. As much work as a dog is, they give so much more back. Even the dogs that have been traumatized and abused, for the most part, they learn to forgive, let go, and move on. We should all learn from all these precious vibes.
“DHARMA” BY BILLY COLLINS
The way the dog trots out the front door
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.
Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance-
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?
Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.
If only she did not shove the cat aside
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.