This post about a dog is not about my dog. Though this photo that I have included is my dog. I love this photo. It was taken this past Saturday when my husband and I went to the beach to walk our beautiful and perfect Doberman. I love how alert she is. And focused. And him, too. They both are so into this game of ball that they play together.
It is a different game than my ball game. My game consists mainly of throwing the ball with my ball chuck thing. But my husband, this is an art form for him. He has Nava so focused in and so intent on working. He has her sit and stay and long down stay and circle around him to the left and then the right. She high fives and low fives and goes through his legs and then he'll have her wait and he'll place the ball down on the ground a ways away and then call her to him. She comes and sits right there in front of him but you can see that, though her head is facing up at him, there is just the slightest pull of her eye to the right where the ball sits on the ground. And after he lets her get the ball and bring it back to him for me he will throw it so far down the beach and she will run with such grace and sometimes pull the ball from the air as she soars above the sand. They are awesome together.
But this post is not about them.
It is first about this other dog that we found on the beach a week ago. We were there with Nava and as I sat on this great shaped-like-a-bench-with-a-back-and-all rock this sweet dog came over to say hi. He had a harness collar and lots of tags. I expected the owner to show up next but no one did. And so we looked around. And asked around. First this couple who had just showed up in their camper for a day at the beach. Standing with them we called the numbers on the tag and got the dad of the guy who owned the dog. He didn't know where his son was but would try him and call us back.
Then we talked with this other guy a ways down the beach who said this sweet pup - his name is Kona - had been at the beach since the day before. He said that a surfer girl had tried all the numbers and left messages and no-one called back and so this kind man took Kona in over night for a sleepover. They ate hotdogs and Balogna together.
We tried the dad again to let him know that his son's dog had not been with his son since yesterday. And while we talked, with dad and with the sleepover man and with the couple with the camper, Kona stayed right with us. Playing a bit with Nava and standing close for love. And then jumping into my car and curling up in the back seat. My heart was full.
And then camper couple said they wanted him. That they had been wanting a dog and obviously this owner had abandoned his dog and so we gave them some food from bags we had in the car and left Kona with these new people.
And then on the way home, the owner called me.
How did your dog get lost on the beach last night, I asked him. And why did you not stay to find him? He answered that Kona ran away a lot, searching and hunting and doing dog things and he could not find him and needed to go home.
And I felt uneasy, it was already almost 9:00 in the morning and he had not been back at the beach looking for his pup. Who came when called for me so would have come to this man, too. Right?
But I did not know this man and I did not know this dog except to know that he was a loved dog and a well-trained dog and who was I to judge even though I was.
We had to leave the beach, I said. Kona is still there, someone else is watching him and I believe will take him to the humane society when they leave. It was a white lie. A partial lie. A not wanting to tell the truth but not wanting to really lie lie. Because I wanted Kona to stay with this new couple. I was mad at this man on the phone who made excuses. I didn't want him to have his dog but - and this is what this post is really about - it wasn't my place to make that decision. To control this.
I wanted to. And I still question if I should have. Should I have said that we had to leave and someone else took Kona to the humane society already? Should I have said that so that this man would not even go to the beach to see if he could find his dog?
I struggled back and forth, after the fact, for days. My husband said it will be what it is supposed to be. This man either went to the beach and found this couple and got his dog, or he went to the beach and did not. Or he deciding just not to go to the beach.
And now it is nine days later and I still think about this. On two levels. I think about Kona, sweet and scared, and I wonder where he is and is he safe. Because of these moments he was with us, I love him.
And I think how are we to know, in these moments when the story is unfolding around us, when we need to step back and let the action take place unencumbered verses when we need to play a leading role in the story?
It is a judgement call. And for me it is an energetic reaction that sits in my stomach and tells me where to walk next. And usually it tells me the right way to go. Though sometimes I don't listen and head down the wrong path despite myself. But then, every once in a while I get stuck in the crosswalk, not sure which direction is the right one. My intuition tells me two things. Always for a reason, but I cannot uncover the lesson that is being taught and so I get stuck.
I am stuck there now, after the fact. For nine days I have been standing right in the middle of the intersection replaying my choices over in my mind. Just as I played them the second I got off the phone with this man.
I wish I had said that Kona was no longer at the beach, I think. But then I circle back to was it my place to decide if this man deserved his dog? And I think no. But then I get mad at him again and I am back where I started. It is a tricky thing knowing when to step in and when to step back.
But here's the thing: if we assume that it is not our place to control the outcome of something that is outside of ourselves do we lose our humanity?
And as I write this, my lesson becomes clear. The word I am using is wrong. Control is the wrong word. The word is participation. This is where I was stuck. Because we really can't control anything can we? We think we can, we want to, but we can't.
What we can do is participate. Show up. Be in it. This is the lesson I needed to uncover. That we need to participate but that the outcome is not a sure thing. The outcome is out of our control. Yes, I think this is what this was about.
And so now, though I still will think about Kona and hope that we see him on the beach, perhaps with this couple that wanted him so much or perhaps with his first owner who loves him in his own way, I am feeling a bit less hard on myself. I participated in this dog story. In the best way that I could in the moment I was in.