Kindness to Animals

” . . . And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities … Therefore it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let them try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.” ‘Abdu’l-Baha

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks Carolyn!

Spirituality According to Max, A work in progress

“Therefore I say that man must travel in the way of God. Day by day he must endeavor to become better . . .”*

When I drive my car into the garage to park I align my right headlight on Max’s right paw.  That leaves just enough room for me to get out on the right side and my husband’s car to get in on the left side. But  I’m ahead of myself . . .

We live in a small 3 bedroom home – The bedroom I use for my home office  has glass french doors that open to the hall way.

I looked everywhere for a screen to put up blocking the view into the room for when guests stayed.  It had to be 4 panels wide and extra high for privacy.  My father would tackle anything.  So years before we adopted Max, Dad made the screen to my specifications (with the exception of  the frame’s legs not being quite the same height and needing a bit of propping.

The screen’s frame stayed folded up in the garage for many years until I decided to cover it with canvas.  It stayed folded up in the garage for several more  years until I decided to paint Max’s picture on it.

It stayed folded up in the garage for several more years until I lightly penciled in (which you can’t see in the pictures) some corrections to his anatomy, his fluffy facial hair, and planned to create some interest around the outside edge.  There it stayed folded up in the garage.

A few months ago I drive in to find the unfinished screen blocking the view of  garage “stuff”.  My husband had been decorating.  At first, I’m disturbed. Max lost all his fluffy facial & body hair before he passed.  The picture I’d not finished was a reminder of the last painful month of Max’s life.

Now it turns out my husband is a great decorator, who knew.  When I drive in or drive out I can smile at the silly picture I started years ago.

I’ve decided not to “finish” the screen painting – It will remain a work in progress, just like Max, to remind me every time I travel, driving in and driving out, we are all eternal works in progress.

*The full Baha’i quote:

“Therefore I say that man must travel in the way of God. Day by day he must endeavor to become better, his belief must increase and become firmer, his good qualities and his turning to God must be greater, the fire of his love must flame more brightly; then day by day he will make progress, for to stop advancing is the means of going back. The bird when he flies soars ever higher and higher, for as soon as he stops flying he will come down. Every day, in the morning”. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Journey of the Soul

If you missed the chapters I’ve written to date about Max here are the links (they need to be read in order):

Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has No Bounds
 

Every Day is a New Year

DSCN0831As days pass it seems to have gotten harder, not having Max.  I try to hold tight to what he showed me every minute of every day and live my life just as he did:

Breathe it in right now

every day is a new year

 Gratitude and love

Spirituality According to Max, Chapter 7 – LOVE Has No Bounds

“Be not content in showing friendship in words alone.
Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”
Baha’u’llah, Baha’i
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 

If you missed previous chapters here are the links (they do need to be read in sequence to understand the thread):

Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has No Bounds

Dad is grinning, despite himself, as Max licks him on any and every part of his body that is accessible. All this is happening ON the couch

My Dad never comfortable with outward displays of loving emotion, even from a dog, starts a wrestling match.  Max is more than up for the challenge.  Jumping on Dad over and over as  Dad pushes him back over and over.  With every jump and every push Max’s eyes grow bigger and bigger . . . a wild look that I can’t describe.  “Dad, Stop it!”  Max  gets wilder and wilder . . . his eyes get bigger and bigger.   “You’re riling him up”.  My sweet little angel looks possessed.  I will only see this look in Max’s eyes as long as my Dad is alive.  They have a primitive bond, a bit unnerving, but a special bond.

Dad finally stops, he’s 92 and no match for Max, “You picked a good one.”

Outwardly I smile. Inwardly I feel triumphant.

My Max loves his new family.  My brother Rick visits. Max’s very first “encounter” with Rick he jumps on the couch smothering Rick’s ear, inside and out, with licks of love.  Rick tries to dodge,  unsuccessfully, Max’s attentions  laughing so hard it brings tears . . . which of course, eggs Max on even more.

Max flagrantly disregards generations of controlled outward displays of affection.  He disregards etiquette and throws pretence away.  He licks my husband, he licks my Dad, he licks my brother, he licks me with unbridled loving passion. I’m sad that Mom, having passed on 4 years prior, didn’t get her share of all this public display of affection.  Max would have licked and loved her too.

Max’s first outing since coming home from the shelter is taking Dad to the grocery market.  Dad never spends much time shopping so this is a perfect opportunity for a short car ride.  Max is more than eager to go. When the car starts he begins squealing, and I do mean squealing, with delight. Non-stop squealing in delight.

I attempt to wait with Max in the car while Dad shops. Max has other ideas.  In self-defense, we take a little spin in the parking lot.  Max in the lead, sniffing, zig-zagging, choking  while I, hang on for dear life.  Abruptly he comes to a dead stop in front of the supermarket clerk who’s  corralling shopping carts.  “What a cute dog, what is he?”, the clerk bends down to pet Max, who without hesitation  exuberantly licks him on his face, his arms, his neck.  The clerk breaks out in delighted laughter.

My world simultaneously crashes and soars.   It not just me, not just my family . . . MAX LOVES EVERYONE.

This is a dog who now has a proper name that reflects his personality – distinct but cute, short but sweet, unique, memorable, independent,  a gourmand not a gourmet  . . .  I add indiscriminate lover to the list.

 

Spirituality According to Max, chapter 5 – Our Little Angel

“The meaning of ‘angels’ is the confirmations of God and His celestial powers. Likewise angels are blessed beings who have severed all ties with this nether world, have been released from the chains of self and the desires of the flesh, and anchored their hearts to the heavenly realms of the Lord. These are of the Kingdom, heavenly; these are of God, spiritual; these are revealers of God’s abounding grace; these are dawning-points of His spiritual bestowals.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha – Baha’i)

max3

If you missed previous chapters here are the links (which need to be read in order to follow the story line):

Prologue & Epilogue

Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule

Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick

Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven

Chapter 4 – Unleashed

“We are truly blessed” I tell my Husband.  He hasn’t peed in the house once.  He has a great appetite and look how cute he is!”  Our little angel adoringly looks up at me  with big brown eyes. My husband is examining the gouged edge of the cover protecting the couch from doggie hair.  “There are no scraps of material anywhere.  Can you believe he swallowed it?.  Maybe we should take him to the vet?”

I look up at my husband trying to appear not the least bit concerned, ” He’s just a bit anxious. OF COURSE he would chew it up.  If you were the one who was rescued an hour before you were to die only to be imprisoned in a horrible enclosure without any companionship and now find yourself in strange surroundings, you would do the same.”  My husband looks at me like I’m nuts. Homer looks at me lovingly, nudging my hand for more petting.  (It’s obvious that human men just don’t get it).

The bigger more pressing issue is doing something about that name.  HOMER!  It’s stressing me out to think he has a name that simply doesn’t fit his personality.  This is my priority right now, NOT an old throw cover.

“Call him Butchie”, suggests my Dad. “That was the name of my first dog.”  “Dad, that has been the name of every dog you have ever had. We’re not calling him Butchie. Look at that sweet little angelic face.  Butchie is for a bulldog.”  My Dad looks at me like I’m nuts.

This is a dog who deserves a proper name that reflects his personality – distinct but cute, short but sweet, unique but memorable, independent but loving – a doggie name?  a human name?

I get a baby book of names.  I read the dictionary of names.  I poll friends, family, colleagues.  I ask strangers on the street what their dog’s name is.  I call out different names to see what he might respond to.  He tilts his head and looks angelically at me with big brown eyes at every name I try.  He’s so cute.

“Take a look at this,” my husband waves the gouged edges of our bed comforter at me.  “There are no scraps of material anywhere.  Can you believe he’s eaten it?”

Just remember that we are so blessed.  He hasn’t peed in the house once.  He has a great appetite and look how cute he is!”  My little angel proceeds to lick my face, my arms my neck in a display of doggie love.

 (Maybe Dad is right. There has been a lot of fabric “butchered” in his first week home.)

 

Spirituality According to Max – Prologue & Epilogue and a haiku

Max stormed into life!

Then silently passing on

leaf drifting in air

 *     *     *

To all my haiku friends who may not know of Max’s passing

at the bottom are the posts of Max’s story.

*   *   *

Max, Prologue & Epilogue

” . . . it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. “ Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 

Max, 1968 – 2012

I mourn the passing from my life of this incredible lively, quirky and wonderful spirit.  Max was a love – stubborn, incredibly stubborn, but a love.

This December 2012,  he would have been 14 years old.  He was about 10 months old when he adopted us 1998. In his last week in both appearance and behaviour he wasn’t “Max”.

Before our eyes Max lost his hair, his pep, energy, stubbornness and his bearings.  He stopped greeting us at the door, giving hundreds of loving licks, he became completely disoriented, standing in space, staring at some unknowable sight, unable to move forward, backward or lie down.  Max’s body was here, his spirit was lost.

We knew without question it was time,  on November 26, 2012,  to release him

I have turned even more to the Baha’i spiritual teachings and prayer to stay as graceful and loving as possible through my tears  and  rely on Max’s loving, quirky spirit to help me keep perspective.

I began writing a series of remembrances days before we euthanized him, unconsciously knowing he had not many days to live here on earth.   I want to share a bit of Max and my journey  together.  If you choose to accompany us on this spiritual path Max & I will be honored.

Here are the links to the chapters I have posted to date.  They are a bit wacky,  just like Max!  Stay tuned for more . . .

Links (they do need to be read in order to follow the story thread):
Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has no Bounds
 

 

 

Spirituality According to Max, Chapter 4 – Unleashed

“Happiness or sorrow – whatever befalls you, walk on untouched, unattached.” Buddha (563 – 483 BC)

Max, 1998 – 2012

If you missed any parts here are the links:

Prologue & Epilogue

Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule

Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick

Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven

The ride home took a needed detour to the pet store.  Dog food – only the best, doggie treats – only the tastiest and a walking halter so as not to hurt his precious neck when in his exuberance he powerfully strains forward on the collar producing rather unsettling choking sounds.  Choking doesn’t seem to bother Homer  in the least (we’ve got to do something about that name) but my uproarious laughter is disappearing in concern that we’ll end up with a dog with brain damage from lack of oxygen due to choking.  I’m no longer worried about the shelter-lady taking him back.  Now I’m worried animal control will jail us for cruelty to animals.

In the pet store, it’s Homer who is now in heaven.  Careening down the aisles, with me in tow, he’s a sniffing snorting, choking blur of dog.  Ah, finally find the halters.  Red, green, black.  I choose blue as it nicely sets off the color of his coat.  Halter size is a bit harder.  The length of his body puts him in the big dog size, his weight and girth put him in medium and his short legs put him in the small dog category. A fitting is required. Bending over to try a halter on for size  he exuberantly licks my face, my neck, my arms, setting me off, once again, into laughing ecstasy.  When the halter comes anywhere near his head he ducks and lurches away surprising me with his determination not to put on anything that isn’t his idea.

“Here’s the plan,” I tell my husband, “I’ll get down on the floor and restrain him while you slip the halter on”.  What sounds like a totally sensible plan turns into a wrestling match with all three of us on the floor.  Bursting into even more laughter, signals Homer we’re here to play.  And now that we’re at his level it’s even more fun for him as he jumps on both of us, over and over and over. and over and over and . . .  it’s a battle to the finish, everyone trying to establish alpha status, on the floor, arms, legs and paws flailing wildly in the middle of the leash and halter aisle.

Homer wins. With our tails between our legs my husband pays for all of Homer’s loot (minus a halter) while I, hanging on for dear life,  zig-zagging, sniffing and choking go back to the car.  Round #2 of the fight for alpha status begins again, as we cram all squirming, lurching and licking 29 pounds of dog into the back seat.

My husband now joins my Dad, “Why did you pick this dog?”.  I throw him a darted look while trying to control Homer from jumping from the back seat into the front to lick me. This dog really loves me.

Stay tuned . . .for More of Max’s Most Marvelous Adventure

Links to all the current chapters (they do need to be read in order to follow the story thread):
Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has no Bounds