How the Right Words Can Steer You Through Tough Times: Small Moments of Simple Serendipity

When dog is your co-pilot, sometimes the little things leave a big impact…

Sullivan, the Wonder-Dog (named after Richard Russo’s protagonist in “Nobody’s Fool)

My wife, myself, and Sully, the world’s greatest dog, had been living in Prague.

We were blessed in many ways: we had our youth, our own business, I had just signed a representation contract with one of the top literary agents in New York and my novel was being rather fervently fought over.

We had moved back to the picturesque city of Prague where we’d met some years before. This time to live more permanently. And with the third member of our tribe.

Prague, pictured from Letna, Sully’s second favorite park

We had a beautiful apartment in a restored baroque building that nestled up against the sprawling tree-lined hills of Prague’s Stromovka Park, which was ideal for long walks with Sully.

Sully poses for his sculpture

All was well with our little world. Right up until it wasn’t when I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease and required a series of surgeries that necessitated the counsel of numerous specialists and rushing back home to America.

My wife and I hastily packed our things and purchased a large dog carrier because these were the days before one could get away with any beloved furry family member being a therapy dog and he had to make the long flight back home in cargo.

Mixed with the distress about my own condition were the worries about our coddled high-strung Brittany Spaniel and how he would handle the long transatlantic flight.

Friends ferried us and our apprehensive pooch to the airport, where there was a great deal of consternation as to how to charge for Sully’s flight, which ended up, by weight, costing far more than either of our own tickets.

While our friends waited some ways away with our dog Sully, we found ourselves holding up the line, embattled in controversy with the ticket agent.

She explained to us in Czech that it was not going to be possible to guarantee that both of us and our dog were going to be on the same flight. The flight that was supposed to get us to JFK so that we could drive to Baltimore and make the elusive only-available appointment with one of the country’s best and busiest Neuro-Opthalmic surgeons.

I could not see well enough to drive from JFK to Johns Hopkins, thus could not fly alone and we would not fly without knowing that Sully was on board the very same plane as us.

We were a triad and faced our tribulations together.

While we were thus embroiled in these small and large stresses, an elderly woman slowly strolled over with the help of her cane, came up and interrupted us.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I’ve been watching your beautiful dog over there. Looking at him looking at you both. I just wanted to tell you that I have never seen such a look of pure unadulterated love in all my life. You’re very lucky.”

With that she hobbled off, leaving behind a small wake of simple serendipity in a difficult time, a generous little gift of brief benevolence that seemed bountiful.

We paused to look over at him and his bright brown eyes, little limpid pools of love. And for that moment of wordless communion we were transported briefly out of the trials of life and there was only love, all the love.

All three of us made the flight. I made my appointment, the first of many, and toiled through three years of thirteen surgeries under the capable care of a genius surgeon. Sustained, restored, and often rejuvenated by the carefree pleasure of basking in the company of a stalwart canine companion.

And sadly, Sully, the world’s greatest dog and one of the finest friends we ever had, is no longer with us, having departed some time ago to romp in other Elyssian Fields. But of course the love remains, as it does with anyone whose life has been forever marked by the right love of the right dog.

But that benevolent woman and her kind and thoughtful words in an otherwise trying time left another lasting little memory that we will always cherish.

When there was only love.

Thank you for reading. May all your walks be made better by being in the company of a fine furry friend and may you have slices of simple serendipity to sustain you on your journeys.

Scott Stavrou is the author of the new novel, Losing Venice (Rogue Dog Press, May, 2018) available in paperback and e-book online and in select bookstores.

If you love dogs and you liked this, you might enjoy:

Writer (Losing Venice, a novel) & Writing Coach | American abroad | PEN Hemingway Award | |

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