Lessons from A Rescue Dog 🐕Jul 21, 2022
My sister’s dog Denali died on Tuesday after 16 years of faithful companionship. She lived a good life. She was also a rescue dog, and legend has it that she was a junkyard dog in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, physically abused as a pup, to the point that she never stopped being scared of strangers—especially ones in male bodies.
But Nali would warm up if people let her. You had to work for it, but then her love melted your heart. She was fun loving, stubborn and utterly unique in nearly every thing she did—like the way she jumped with all fours. She was well-loved. And she played very well with babies and other animals, including raising my cat RonRon to be friendly like a dog.
I learned a lot from her. One of the most important lessons: She never healed her junkyard trauma, and she lived an awesome life. The point isn’t whether or not a dog can “heal trauma”, the point is that she didn’t need to. This is one reason I’m careful using a label that means ‘wound’. Too often we obsess over some better future, overstuffing our present with painful pasts to get there. Yes we need to improve some things, especially habits that hurt others or obscure our purpose. Denali had to be muzzled in public until she learned she was safe with my sister. Others we can guardrail. “Don’t try to pet Denali until the second or third visit in as many days”, we'd tell new friends. But Denali was a daily reminder that the good life is focused on living our purpose, and self-healing matters only to the extent that it nourishes that purpose. Nali’s purpose was loving and being loved by my sister.
With love, Jordan
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