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The Zen of Dog

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

This is a reprint of little story I wrote for Elephant Journal in 2018.

It’s quite possible that I have learned the most about life and being in the moment from a dog. This lesson was really brought front and center several years ago when I helped care for a partially paralyzed miniature Fox Terrier named Diego. When he was a puppy, Diego had fallen off the rooftop patio of his owner’s house. The vet said he would never walk again, and for many months Diego was unable to function without his owner’s constant care.

Diego did get better and learned to walk again, in an oddly stilted manner. He never regained some functions, though, and also became very sensitive to the energies of things and people around him. When I began caring for him, Diego’s owner was preparing to travel for several weeks. He still needed a lot of care and couldn’t be left unattended for more than a couple of hours.

However, Diego spent no time being anything other than his quirky pooch self, zooming around in his odd hip-hop gait, stuffed monkey in his mouth. Yet there was also an otherworldly soulfulness about him. He would stare off into space at odd times. I would find him laying outside with his eyes slightly closed, as if he was listening to something, or someone, that I couldn’t hear. His favorite thing to do was to sit on a cushion on the patio in the early morning Santa Fe sunshine. I would cover him in a light blanket to keep him warm.

After settling him on his cushion in the sunshine early one morning, I started to walk back into the house, but something made me turn to look back at him. What I beheld gave me chills and made me catch my breath in utter amazement. I scrambled to grab my smart phone, and with the sun blinding me, snapped this photo. What emerged humbled me. I was overcome by the simplicity of this little dog communing with life exactly as it was showing up, an early morning worship of sunshine, breeze and being in the moment.

Our teachers come in all sizes, and sometimes they come with four legs and fur. Is it any wonder that dog is GOD spelled backward?

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