In this chaotic, stressful world, sometimes we need a little help remembering to stop and smell the roses. Jenny Block got one such reminder from an unlikely source–her beloved dog, Walter. From The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man’s Best Friend.
Walter has an ability to know what I need, when I need it, and that makes him divine. If I’m sick or sad or stressed, he lays his body on mine and licks my face. If I’m antsy, he scratches at the door until I take him for a walk. If I’m angry, he rolls onto his back, making me forget everything else so I can rub his naked belly. Walter just knows.
A friend once commented that Walter and I are exactly alike. We have terrible seasonal allergies and skinny little legs, are very loyal, and love to be snuggled. We also need a lot of attention but enjoy our time alone.
One day, Walter did something that changed me forever. It was such a simple thing, but in an instant, I realized how profound it was. I was doing what I’m always doing: writing on my laptop, talking on my mobile, writing down notes in my journal, looking up recipes for dinner—frantic all at once. In the middle of it all, Walter hopped up onto the arm of the overstuffed chair I was in and started pawing at my face. He pawed and pawed and pawed. I finally stopped the million things I was doing to look at him. My intention was to bat him away and tell him to stop. But instead, I stopped. He looked at me, and I knew instantly what he was trying to say: “Slow down. One thing at a time. None of these things is a matter of life or death. Relax. Take a minute to scratch my head and to see how much I love you. Be present.”
Every time I feel overwhelmed and removed from my own body, I think of that moment and the look in Walter’s weepy eyes when he taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons. Now I do my best to be present, no matter what I’m doing. I try to focus on one thing at a time. And I always remember to take the time to scratch his little head whenever he asks.
Walter has taught me so many things. Sometimes it seems as if he’s my little guru. He practices yoga every morning, not because he knows what the heck it is but because he knows his little body needs to stretch before he starts his day. Downward facing dog every morning and every evening. He only eats until he’s full. He’s wary of strangers until they’ve proven themselves. He always takes the time to check out everything around him, to look at it and sniff it and consider it from every angle. But the most important thing I’ve learned from Walter is that there’s always time to love and be loved. No matter how crazy a day awaits me, he insists on snuggling in the morning, curved into my body, licking my hand. He sighs and stretches and puts his paws on me as if to say, “the day can wait a minute, and you’ll be all the better for it if you spend just one minute thinking of nothing but how lucky we are to love and be loved.” Maybe he’s just lazy and doesn’t want to wake up. But I don’t think so. More than anything, Walter’s taught me to stay in the moment, because, after all, moments are all we have.
The universe has a funny way of making sure you have what you need when you need it. My needs just happen to be contained in a scruffy little canine body. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.