Our American bulldog, Stella, came to us from a grungy gulag rescue shelter. Her previous owner had tried to train her to fight (mistakenly believing that all “bullies” are naturally born killers) and, in so doing, had broken her jaw (which was never reset) and subjected her to all manner of tortuous inducements. When he realized that his barbaric efforts were all for naught, he dumped her on the street, where she survived for “who knows how long”. Later, while in the rescue, she lost an eye, got bit by a poisonous brown spider (resulting in two surgeries to stop the necrosis which nearly cost her a leg), There was a bowel resection and a couple of nearly fatal allergic reactions to bee bites.
If any animal had a right to be pissed off at the hand life had dealt them, it was Stella.
If it was me, I’d be struggling through weekly sessions with a therapist, gobbling Prozac and /or guzzling bourbon.
Yet, when we escorted her home from the shelter she walked willingly, wagged her tail like a metronome and projected a “whoever you are and wherever we’re going…life is gonna’ be great!” attitude. At home, it took her all of two apprehensive minutes to sniff the house and settle into the bed we had bought her. I have never known a happier to be alive animal (canine or human).
Sure, she has no depth perception, can’t catch a Frisbee and occasionally walks into walls. Her recently diagnosed arthritis hobbles her slightly. But none of that matters to her. She is an integral member of the pack and marvels at every wondrous aspect of life. At every sight, sound and smell. Her favorite TV show is anything we’re watching and her favorite food is anything we give her.
The lesson is as invaluable as it is starkly simple: Live like a dog. The moment is all that matters.