Sunday, June 27, 2010

God speaks to us in a language we can understand

I've been drawn to the path of animal therapy work with my dog Ahnung who officially became a registered therapy dog in December, 2009. I can never erase from my memory the first moment I saw her in October, 2008 up at Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota. Her ears were down and pulled back, her tail down, her coat dull, her eyes spoke "I am tired and worn out." Her spirit, battered and beaten, as she nursed her litter of 8 yelping, needy puppies. Her rescuer Karen told me, "there is something special about this one."

Ahnung lived in an igloo in an outdoor kennel with her 8 puppies. She used her body to keep her puppies warm. Karen filled the igloo with straw and blankets to keep the pups and Ahnung warm ... northern Minnesota winters are harsh and unforgiving. At night time, somehow, some way Ahnung figured out how to get out her her kennel. How she managed to climb out of her kennel is still a mystery to Karen. All she knows is she would return to the shelter every morning to find Ahnung gone, and to return some time that morning in her own time (which often coincided with feeding time!). In October, 2008 my friend Laura and I had the chance to help Karen at her shelter, Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. I encourage you to check out her blog and to learn more about the amazing work she does up north for abandoned, abused and neglected animals. On that trip we met Ahnung and her pups -- I remember crawling into the igloo to pull the scrunched up puppies out of the igloo ... yelping, squiggly and squirmy. Our fingers frozen from the frigid temperatures, one by one we gave them their medicine. We squirt dewormer into their tiny mouths ... although we still wonder how much of it actually went in :)

Who knows how many litters of pups Ahnung had before she was rescued. Who knows how much suffering she endured before she fell into the angelic arms of her rescuer Karen. What we do know is that she came with 8 screaming little puppies, a positive diagnosis for heartworm, coccidia and lymes, no front teeth (she ground her teeth down to her gums in search of food) and a pellet remaining in one of her nipples. What we do know is that she arrived with a spirit so battered and beaten, all that was left was a small twinkle in her eye, and even that, one had to look deep into her eyes. I remember looking into her eyes and seeing the soul of a wise spirit and just knowing she had to come home with me. And so she did ... i returned in November, 2008 to pick her up (she had to stay for one more month to nurse her pups).

So my sweet girl has been with me now for a year and a half. In that time she has taught me so much as I have watched her spirit come to life. After 6 months, she finally learned how to play. Her brother Mister taught her how to play and she accepted his play invitation right around the time I was being told by my healing practitioners that "you have to learn  how to play to save your life."

There's a deep connection between us ... six months ago as I struggled with health issues she started to develop these lumps on her ear. Doctors couldn't explain what they were .. a pathologist said "cells are just dying and we don't know why." Meanwhile, I was walking a parallel path as doctors struggled to find the cause for my weight loss, inability to digest fats and fatigue. At about the same time again, Ahnung's lumps disappeared and they found the cause for my problems to be my pancreas.

Ahnung has also led me to working with at-risk youth in our therapy work ... she is guiding me there so I can heal the wounds of my childhood ... losing my Papa when I was 4, losing my mom emotionally at the same time, and years later, sexual abuse by a trusted family friend and Catholic deacon. It's amazing how much we are shaped by our early years of life and our experiences. She is teaching me how to free myself of secrets and that we can rise above pain, suffering and abuse. I look at her and I see how much she has been through and endured ... and as I hug her and hold her all I feel is pure, unadulterated love. As we volunteer as an animal therapy team at schools and hospice, I watch her "just know" which kid or adult needs her the most, and I watch her sit quietly next to a youth in a classroom who has shut the world out. And she just sits there, asking for nothing and simply giving her presence and love. And minutes later, I watch the young man extend his arm down to pet her. I am reminded of the line from the movie Avatar, "I see you."

Thank you Ahnung for teaching me to see. And thank you for seeing me.

If you would like to follow along in Ahnung's adventures be sure to check out her blog and if you'd like, you can also follow her on facebook ... yes, she even has her own fan page :)

1 comment:

  1. Ahnung is a very inspiring soul...I am so glad you two found each other when you did.