When I was almost four, a dog bit me in the face, so I have always approached dogs with a cautious attitude, even when they didn’t scare me. I even felt this way about our own dogs. But lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my dog, Ozzy, and I realized that I could learn a lot from him.
Ozzy was hit by a car a couple years ago, and he’s never fully recovered: he’s broken. He can’t control his bodily functions, so he’s always a mess. The turds sticking to his tail do not prevent him from trying to kiss new people, and even though many shy away from his overeager leaps, his inevitable urine spray, and his tongue like a soaked bath towel, he is still the only thing he knows how to be: himself.
And even though he is completely himself, he is also completely unaware of himself. (Unless he wants a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears.) But his main reason for being is simply this: to show how much he loves you whenever he sees you. He is blissfully unaware of his disability. These stray turds and pee dribbles do not make him shy.
And you know what? Because he’s himself, I love him back. In spite of the pee dribbles. In spite of the turds.
I need to be more like this. I need to become more unaware of my own disability. (I have become hyper-aware of it, which is not healthy.) I need to be more myself, in spite of the seizures. I need to let me shine through and live like my dog does, which means enjoying the boring stuff, which means just giving pure, unselfconscious love whenever I can.
The last year has been a pretty boring one for me: no driver’s license, no job and country life all add up to a pretty empty social calendar—especially during the weekdays. I love to be busy. I hate sitting still. With all of this forced down time, I’m finding out that I truly have no idea how to relax.
But my dog does.
He does not fret and moan about what his disability has stolen from him.
He does not mind the turds that cling to his legs or his crooked tail.
I don’t think my dog even knows how to worry.
Today, Ozzy sat in the same shady spot for over an hour and just watched birds. He doesn’t worry about how he looks or what people think of him. He eats when he’s hungry and he terrorizes squirrels when he wants to have fun. He is content to merely be next to me when I’m outside, and he goes berserk when I call him to join me on a walk.
I confess, I do a lot of fretting and moaning about what epilepsy has taken from me. And this anger, this frustration, does nothing but fuel my seizures. It causes them. And I know that, but I am so angry that I cannot always stop those thoughts, those worries, those hurts, those frustrations. I’m in therapy for it, but I am a long way from cured.
Perhaps spending more time with my dog is just the thing I need.