During some really hard times for me and my husband over the last few years, I have questioned a lot of my choices. The more I looked back over recent decisions, I started going back further and realizing there might have been a lot of things I could have done differently that would have impacted my future in a positive way. I always try not to have regrets and believe I am where I am for a reason, but in truth, I know there are times I could have made better choices—stayed at one job a little longer, or chosen to move one place instead of another, and boy, could I have made better romantic choices in the past when I was younger.
Many of the choices I questioned were those that were quickly made, under pressure, or without planning--usually during times of great emotion. I know a lot of my romantic choices were made during times like that, and even career choices, unfortunately, sometimes involved a combination of pressure and emotion that probably could have used some time and reflection.
But one decision that I made at one of the lowest moments in my life, and in an instant, without planning, and totally based on emotion, was adopting this sweet boy.
And never, not for one second, have I ever thought it was anything than one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
The year I adopted him, after a few months of healing, I wrote about how I had rescued him, but in turn how he had also rescued me. That was just the beginning. I knew then that he was opening my heart. In truth, he taught me to love again. That may sound far-reaching or dramatic, but anyone close to me knows that I was in a very dark place in my life and I had a long way to go before I could find my way back to the land of the living, and learning to love was a far off place I didn’t dream of ever really visiting again.
What I didn’t know then, was that Bear would continue to teach me things, all the time, day after day.
One of the things I am always in awe of is how he constantly communicates with me, without speaking, now for five years. He has taught me that there are non-verbal ways to let people know you care that are so meaningful, powerful, and real. Bear’s eyes are very expressive. So many people have said he has very “human” eyes. When I am sick or upset, he never fails to check on me, or stay near me when I need him. But it is the way he looks at me, in a different way than his usual playful way, with concern in his deep brown-doggy-sweet eyes that darn near brings me to tears.
I have always known the power of laughter, and it was one of the things that made me fall in love with my husband. He can make me laugh, a truly desperate, grab-onto-something laugh like no one else. I love that. Bear has taught me about the joy in laughing every day. There have been times over the last three years when, honestly, my husband and I were struggling with so many things that for months, there seemed like there was nothing to talk about but bills and stress. Out of the blue, seeming to sense tension, Bear would do something silly or pose in a funny way and cock his head and have us laughing. It would shake us out of where we were for a moment and remind us that even in the middle of what seemed like everything caving in, we could still laugh. We held onto that for awhile. I remember that once we turned a curve financially, we were able to say, “You know what? We still laughed every single day.” And we knew we owed a lot of that to Bear.
I knew once we were on our feet that I wanted to try and add another dog to our family, a sibling for Bear. But, I only wanted to do it if it was right, and if Bear was still happy and felt loved. I also wanted to do it so that Bear would stay active and have a playmate. This year we added a puppy, Boone, to our household. Once again, Bear taught me a lesson. I watched in awe as he shared his food and toys and loved his new little brother in a way that made me love Bear so much that I thought my heart would burst. This sweet dog had so much love to give that it seemed endless.
The most important lesson brings me to tears. Bear is teaching me the deep importance of small moments. Taking pictures of all the things that matter. Kissing his head 500 times a week, because I know I will always want to know I kissed it as many times as I possibly could. Rubbing his ears to get him to fall asleep next to me, because it magically makes his eyelids heavy as it has since he was 12 weeks old and first lying next to me in his new home. Going to bed each night knowing that we are giving a rescue dog that we love immeasurably the most beautiful life that a family could give a dog, because if all was right in the world, all rescue dogs would be this happy and celebrating their fifth adoption birthdays like this:
He is teaching us well.
Happy five years Bear.
You can read my previous posts about Bear here: