"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Friday, June 08, 2007

More thoughts & finally, maybe a "why"

Yesterday was already shaping up as a pretty great day, even before I heard that Murphy was graduating. It was the first day since my fall last week that I actually felt like myself again, and it was nice to be getting things back to normal.

What really threw me off was how quickly the news unfolded. That afternoon, around 4, I'd gotten his final training report, which said: "Murphy's potential for placement as a guide is very good and he is a possibility for the June '07 class."

So I was already very thrilled and excited, and then around 6 pm, I got the email that he was officially in class.

It's important to note that this is not final -- something could still happen -- but that's fairly rare. As I understand the process, Murphy is already out of the kennel and living in the dorm room with his new person.

Andrew and I will definitely be going to graduation so we can see Murphy one last time and meet his owner. Bob is taking a pass; he likes the dog and he's happy for me and proud, but making him go would be like dragging me to a model-making convention. Which is fine with me, although he played a bigger role in Murphy's success than he realizes.

Some people (including Bob) have been somewhat amused and slightly puzzled at how into this process I've gotten. (Obsessed, Bob would probably call it.) Even I never expected how this would become a very big part of my life, not so much time-wise as emotionally.

Why? You know, I looked through my past postings last night, and I noticed that I was always saying I would explain why this has been such a big deal for me, and I never really did. That's probably because I didn't always know. It's easy to explain why your family is central to your heart. It's easy to explain why your profession is important to you, assuming you've chosen a path that's part of you and not just a paycheck, which is what journalism has always been for me. (Most of the time, anyway, but there's a whole other blog!)

But there's no easy niche to explain falling in love with a dog that you know won't be yours, and you hope won't be yours, even while you keep a small piece of your heart/brain ready to take him back with open arms, just in case.
There's no easy niche to explain why I put so much work and worry into it. I think you could in some respect say this is my hobby, and that sort of gets at it. I did enjoy it -- I love dogs (even though I don't think I'm a wacko dog person) and I like having one around.

But at least for me, it's been a little deeper than a hobby. Call it schmaltzy, call it corny if you will, but I think for me this has been my version of faith, or giving back, or karma. However you want to say it. Those who know me know that I'm not particularly religious in the traditional sense. I respect, and in some ways, envy a bit, those who do have a traditional faith.

I may lack belief in a deity, but I would describe myself as spiritual, if you define that as wanting to live a life that has value and live in a way that hopefully lives up to the values that I hold, of trying to do some good and live honorably.

This matters to me because it might be one of the things I've done in life that most affects another person -- Murphy's owner -- in a good way.

But raising Murphy, and now Nettie, has made me a better person. Patience, and trying to be zen, has been a consistent theme of this blog over the roughly 18 months since I started raising.

I am a work in process, but I think -- I hope -- I'm more patient.
I think -- I hope -- that I'm more accepting.
I think -- I hope -- that I'm more resilient about the long view.
I think -- I hope -- that my son, already a caring kid, has learned even more about helping others.

That's why it matters, and that's why I've done it, I guess.

Lots more to come, especially after graduation.


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