The Middle Way

Zen Spot #68 — Mindfulness, meditation and feeling a loved one’s heartbeat stop February 5, 2018 00:05

Froo froo

Lily was a Standard Poodle. Apricot colored. I didn’t want her. 

My wife chose to bring her into our home for many reasons, few of which had to do with me. I had already had a dog. Her name was Scarlet Shoes. A black Lab.

Not that one dog is enough for one lifetime because, well, clearly it’s not. But, at that time in my life, I didn’t need more responsibility. Three kids. A house. A business. A substance abuse problem. It adds up.

Like most people whose partner commits to a dog, I offered the cliche response — "I’m not walking it, feeding or cleaning it. You want it, it’s your responsibility.”

Cliche.

Trash

Lily had a kind soul. Still, a queen’s soul. Still, a soul that loved our children, especially our youngest, William, in a way that a grandparent loves a grandchild. William would snuggle like most kids snuggle with a beloved pet but, despite Lily’s love, she wasn’t a snuggler. She was a queen. Somehow knowing that William needed to be close, she was a loving grandparent.

Lily would allow William to dress her up in children’s clothes, much to her chagrin. Choosing the role of grandparent over queen required much patience. The image above perfectly represents her resignation to love. Wearing a hoodie, looking down and waiting until the beloved humiliation faded into playing video games or bike riding, Lily gave of herself endlessly to William.

She was a cool dog.

Innate

Lily had an uncanny ability to get into the trash while we were out of the house. Bears in Yellowstone would love her secret. If we forgot to take the trash out before leaving the house, we'd return to a crime scene of aluminum foil, plastic bags, cake frosting and vegetable garbage. What looked like tornado residue was, instead, a slow motion, methodical and discerning gourmet tasting.

The last year

My wife and I had divorced and Lily lived with her for about four years. At one point, my wife moved to a home where dogs were not allowed and she asked if I could care for Lily.

Of course.

Lily's last year was filled with health problems. Sores developed. She began wasting. Her eyes began to fail. She would nip, even when being given medical attention because, I guess, everything hurt. I should have put her down six months before, demonstrating compassion for her pain, instead of mine.

Time

I told William that he needed to prepare. His mother and I chose a date, in February. William’s anguish would be profound. I needed to be strong.

We met at the veterinarian’s office. I hadn’t been around when Scarlet was put down for reasons I won’t explain here. Walking in, knowing I was going to walk out with a crying child and an empty leash was heart wrenching. 

The doctor explained what would happen. I lifted her onto the table. She received the drug to relax her and then, within thirty seconds of the next drug being administered, with my hand lying flat on her chest, her heart slowly stopped beating.

I felt her soul leave. 

Despite being the father, I dropped to the floor and started wailing. Inconsolably wailing. In front of my child. A crumpled pile. So much, that William put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.

I didn’t cry that much when my father died. Theories abound. My father. My marriage. My dog. Who knows.

Yes, my dog. The dog I didn’t want. 

My dog.

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About DharmaMechanic  

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 

 

All veterinary offices are Zen spots. Souls depart regularly from these train stations, moving toward the next place — with karma on their side.


Zen Spot #149 - Mindfulness, meditation and Lily crossing over February 3, 2015 23:24

Leave an imaginative, caring and silly ten year-old boy alone with his dog and a digital camera and you can count on weird and wonderful magic. Combine the playfulness with a patient caring companion that is more willing to please than object and a lifetime of love and wonder is captured.

Also captured? Several artful pictures of a dog's butt.

Lily, our standard poodle, and William, our youngest son, have a particularly strong relationship. They walk together, sleep together and, perhaps more importantly, simply...be...together. He doesn't remember life without Lily. She has always been there, through the good, the bad and the ugly. Lily is a rock.

Among her most endearing and weird qualities is her ability to smile. Yes, smile. I recently watched a documentary that discussed this phenomenon and apparently only one dog in a hundred can smile. Ironically, Lily smiles when being reprimanded. After having spilled the trash, when asked if she was, in fact, the perpetrator, Lily look ups at you and...smiles. Her eyes make you melt in a way that makes discipline nearly impossible and her smile makes you smile while garbage is...everywhere.

Lily is forever hungry, too. No matter how much food you offer, she is constantly on the hunt. Like a great white shark swimming endlessly, slithering in infinite water, looking for a meal, Lily exists to cuddle, play, be and eat -- and not necessarily in that order. She will stare into your eyes from across the room, or six inches from your face, when she knows food is available. She's been trained well enough and won't intrude on a meal by begging but she will make known, without doubt, that she expects you to share. 

There are pictures of Lily with each family member giving hugs, their faces nestled in her apricot fur. She is leaning against us, we are leaning against her. Graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays - Lily is ever-present and everywhere. A kind, sweet, patient dog.

Given the fact that I believe in lives before and after this life, I often wonder who or what Lily was before this life. She must have been kind and benevolent because her's is a good life. Warm, well-fed and loved completely.

She passed away today and my heart is broken.

>

About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?