Thursday, June 12, 2008

Little Dog . . . Found

A few weeks ago we found this lovely white Shepard at my parent's house. She was playful and sweet, and you could tell someone had really loved this dog. We tried to ignore her and send her on her way, but she just kept hanging around.
Finally, my husband broke down and decided to bring her home. Well, I called the Humane Society, scoured the newspapers, looked for signs, and there was NOTHING. We assumed that she was truly a little dog lost. With wide and welcoming arms we brought her into our family. We had her sleep next to us, we took her to the groomers, the kids walked her, we really enjoyed having her around.
We just knew that we would never find her owners, and so, we took on the role of owner and really fell in love with this dog. For those of you who have pets, you know they really become part of the family.
Then the unimaginable happened. My daughter saw a sign for a lost dog. The picture was of our dog! My eldest daughter immediately let me know about the poster and how we should return the dog. I have to admit, for a few minutes, I actually considered not calling. My daughter, of course, thought we should "do the right thing." My middle daughter, on the other hand, said, "right thing? who cares about the right thing?" This perfectly highlights what was going on in my head. On the one hand loomed this great "right thing." But on the other hand was the very real to me reality that I loved this dog and considered her to be part of our family.
After all, the owners of the dog were strangers. I had never seen them before. I had no idea who they were. And, they had let the dog get lost. Maybe she was better off with me.
I think many of us go through life with this mask on. We don't know that stranger. We have no intimate knowledge of their feelings and we are only aware of our feelings. Since our feelings are more real to us, we tend to think about our own feelings almost to the exclusive exclusion of other people's feelings.
So what did I do with the dog? I called the real owner. When the nice couple showed up at our house to pick up the dog, I knew that they loved her and had missed her terribly. It was hard, but because I considered how worried and upset the real owners must be, I knew I needed to call them and give them their little dog back. Of course, they offered a reward, but we didn't take it. Knowing we had done the right thing was enough.
We had done the right thing because we considered the feelings of others above our own selfish feelings. You know what? That felt better than keeping the dog ever could have. Now she is frolicking in someone else's yard--happy as a clam and loved.
This was a great lesson in how giving sympathy and compassion to others can help us love ourselves. You release your selfishness and you release an inner angst. Trust me, when you think of others and show compassion and do the right thing, you win in the end.
Till next time . . . live, eat, and be well.

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