Ah but his was not the only journey being lived out here. He was not the only one whose life was so touched by that of this other. Infact when he went to see about fostering a greyhound he had taken them, this woman who wasn’t sure where or how or if even she fit in his life at all anymore and her youngest, a child caught in the conflicts adults left in their lives. She was a child who had lived through the disallusion of her parent’s marriage. She had seen this newer familly relationship torn apart for the second time- the second time far more hurtful than really either time before, it would seem. She prayed for them to reunite, She wanted to experience that feeling of being wanted and valued. She wanted to give her love in turn in a special way to a special inncent being- and in the giving perhaps there would be a healing she could bring to another of God’s creatures. In her lifetime she had already learned that there were few who stood in absolute innocence- and those few became fewer as people grew older. Accountability was something she was taught early and had seen in action in the lives of the adults she loved, in the adults who would readily die for her to have a better life. Somehow these two adults seemed on the cusp of stepping forward to repair the damages, learn from the experiences that had ripped their hearts and family in pieces. This seemed like a tall order. How nice it would be to have the pieces transform from the heartache, the pain, into something meant to be felt, to grow from and to grow in. For her , that something had long been the aspiration she saw in her desire, her passionate want of a furry creature who spoke mostly through body movement and through eyes. She missed her cats and wanted a dog. SO here we were in a car with the man who while brought healing and love into their lives had also brought heartache and shredded every bit of faith in the security a family has in one another. This was a responsibility her mother held the banner for in the front of the heart break, self sabatouge parade they had been living. Still he asked if they cared to come along. Her mom went through a litany of explanations to her so she would understand this was not her dog, they were living apart. This was just his way of bringing some joy into her world by giving her someone to play with, someone to love who wasn’t likely to let her down as the grownups in her life had done. Having never seen greyhounds in person and now seeing them all in a group in a fenced yard trotting and pacing about was an incredible amount of dog input. She had hoped “we” would get the tall male, majestic young male black and white- but this was not to be. (You see, those who came to adopt had first choices among the dogs while those who came to foster any had the job of waiting to meet dog for them to teach about being a pet and about life off the track and away from the racing world. For these animals it had been their entire life up to this point and while they’d come to love their new lives, it had to be at best unsettling at worst terrifying for them.) As youth is in its resiliency so often does, there was a rapid recoup with a hopeful watching of dogs and people and leashes all moving and talking together about the process, checks written to the cause who saw to it there was another life awaiting these dogs beyond the impersonal life they’d known as the athletes they had been. (Makes the Soviet Union’s approach to olympic training look like an athletic preschool.)Finally this red brindle coated shorter than nearly all the rest if not all was standing there and looking so cold. shivering.He had taken her leash and the look between them had ensued. She didn’t want to get hurt and failed miserable at not falling in love immediately with this four legged furry, beautiful face with colors and marking that would put the best of women made up to shame. It was official this dog was the one this partial family would take home to begin to show her a new side of life. Warming up in the car, her eyes were clearly taking in more if her surroundings. The car was a small foreign bucket seat. The young girl and the dog had already begun their relationship. Giggles and soft voices filled the car with an ambiance of safety. Then the silence was broken by a scared cry of concern and fear for something, someone other than herself. The adults quickly sprung into action. The dog’s tail had been partially amputated , apparently recently enough to be freshly bleeding . Now with her tail bandaged with paper towels found from the nooks, crevisses in the car. It would do for the rest of the journey home.
This little girl had not seen any dog as this in SO many ways. There was the very large crate. Oh and before hte crate came the steps to the deck on trailer. These dogs have no idea what steps were. They had no experience with them- and had to be taught how to walk both up and down. This was only the beginning of this dog’s specialty course of Not Everything Need be Scary or dangerous She would not be alone in the lessons of life. Wisper would have her work cut out for her. From the times of climbing down on the floor and showing her how to put dog toys in her mouth to play to those times of treating her with love and compassion and patience that would yield this wonderful canine being. The cat established that SHE was the one in charge having been there as part of this family for the long haul. Misty and Wisper had a unique relationship. Misty had shown far less patience than the human counterparts. Still she had never given up on her younger charge.Once we got Britt to stop climbing into the dog crate that much of things made Wisper’s transition easier. She understood that this was her safe zone where she would not be prodded and such. It was hers- like nothing else was up til this point. There would be no crate sharing here- no double crating above the male dogs. No having to protect her food from another. For good, bad, or indifferent ( and I would later understand it would be all three for her.), Wisper’s life had in that one afternoon become changed, different from anything it had ever been.
We often find ourselves in uncomfortable situations that we are unaccustomed to, situations that make us uneasy or make us aware of how much of a foreign experience something is. We do only a number of times in this life find ourselves to be in a place where we are thrust into a situation where we know not one person there or have none of our familiar surroundings or schedules. It is an experience few know as completely as these dogs do. ( ALthough my son’s first month or so at college definitely felt like that to him when he told me.”Mom, don’t wait with my sisters until they are going away to college as the first time they are in a situation, a place. a time where they are all they know.” I was surprised as he had been the child moved around the most out of the three of them.Now we laugh about it all.)
My little girl had cherished, played with, consoled,been consoled by her. One thing you notice in a child though. Once they have experienced the loss of a dear dear furry friend, there is a part of themselves that they keep staying in the corner. It is their best attempt at trying to keep from being trampled on in the mayhem of loss, grief.This is a barrier seen for what it is often early on…but as is the case with so many loves in life- eventually love breaks through regardless of our bidding. This little girl was one tough coolie. She was filled with hutzpa which she needed in her youth filled with health issues.( She was always brave, yet it was as an adult that I saw her greatest of courage.)
As Britt grew her time together with Wisper was lessened- although was still cherished and special in their way of closeness. They could be found embraced under a blanket or on the deck or on the driveway sunning or reading. There would be hurts -both physical and mental or emotional that Wisper would set to healing. Wisper would lie on or next to any specific area of injury. There would be the comfort only a dog can give to the broken heart.
They both shared a beauty which would always be stunning. They would share a grace of movement that they could not appreciate as welll as those of us who watched.
Whether a challenge of some sort lost or those high school heartbreaks, Wisper would be there waiting to care and in those moments I swear I saw a healing happening to Wisper as well. When Wisper was fairly new to life in our home, the girls would play on the floor for hours with Wisper. They taught her how to roll over- and she taught herself the glory of lying on her back – in full cock roach position. This was both cute and hysterical to watch. Those barriers Britt wanted to keep up to protect herself could not stay for the duration, no matter how fought that battle was made.
And in the end, the lessons born on the back of heartache, heartbreak would be invaluable in terms of knowledge that Britt would draw upon to help both herself and others. It is those gut wrenching tear your heart apart times where the strengths you need to help anther or yourself are just immeasurable. Animals can bring out the best in us- if we have souls that allow. The souls that left her in, would find the pictures of her to be speaking to her for very many years…for as long as the paper upon which they are carried last. These are eyes none of us will either forget or lose in time. They are the precious memories of a young girl who all too often just couldn’t keep up… a girl who became a woman who made sure in her life’s work that no one felt left behind when their bodies could no longer keep pace with the time left to them on this earth.