A PRICELESS GIFT

One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned was from a dog.

A close friend of mine owned a black, 15 year old Scottish terrier, named Katie and over the last several years I had become very attached to this sweet, lovable dog. I have been a real dog lover all my life, so in the fall of that year when Katie’s health started failing, I was very upset and concerned. At first she had trouble walking and lost control of her back legs, then a few days later her hind end became completely paralyzed. Although she wasn’t in any pain, she needed help getting around, so I volunteered to help my friend take care of her in alternating shifts.

The vet said she probably had one to two weeks. This was so heart-breaking because she was one of the happiest dogs I had ever known and adored me as much as I did her. I’ve never had children, so this was as close to having a sick child as I had ever known. My main concern was to make sure that she felt loved and her last days were as comfortable as possible

Living in the present moment with true happiness was not something I was very familiar with at that particular time in my life. I have always noticed that dogs seem happy most of the time and why is that? Because they live in the moment and offer unconditional love — even when you scold them, they forgive and forget about it almost immediately. They don’t hold a grudge forever and ever. Hmmm, could we humans learn something from this? I think so.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

How many times have YOU ever gone to get the mail and when you returned, your mate was so excited to see you as if you had been gone for weeks? I believe if people treated their mates like their pets treat them then it would reduce the divorce rate drastically. We could learn a lot from our pets — in fact I think sometimes they are better and more mature than most people!

This November was one of the nicest I can ever remember and the weather was absolutely picture –postcard-perfect. The skies were the most beautiful blue color with orange, red and yellow fall leaves floating gently to the ground. Almost every afternoon I would carry Katie outside to her beautiful back yard where we would lie on her favorite black and red, Scottish-plaid blanket together in the plush, green grass underneath two big oak trees. This was one of Katie’s favorite places to be and she was in squirrel heaven.

I can still see her now, sniffing the air and looking intently across the yard in search of a four-legged bushy-tailed creature while the breeze blew across her long whiskers. Occasionally she would look up at me lovingly as if to say, “Thank you.” With a sigh she would smile, then lay her head in my lap while I stroked her head and rubbed her belly as she drifted off for a short nap. We communicated so much to each other without ever saying a word.

“People may not remember what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Looking down at this kind and gentle creature of God with a beautiful soul who could no longer run and play, I wondered in amazement, “How can she be so happy, content and peaceful when she’s dying?” I was so inspired and wanted to be like Katie — I wanted that same inner peace and happiness.

Even though this was one of the most emotionally painful times for me, strangely, it was also one of the happiest times I’d ever known. Wow! This was what it was like to “live in the moment “ with true happiness and inner peace where nothing else in the world mattered except what was happening at that very moment. It was the most peaceful, contented and awesome feeling in the world.

This was true inner peace and happiness — a priceless gift and no amount of money could have ever purchased those kinds of precious moments. These were cherished memories that will stay in my heart, mind and soul forever — moments that would change my life.

Sometimes we would be out there for hours until sundown, then I’d carry her back into the house, lay her down on her favorite blanket with a hug, “I love you” and a kiss goodbye on the top of her head.

I had asked Katie many times, “Honey please let us know when you’re ready to go.” Two weeks later my heart sunk as she gave me the “look” and I knew it was time to let her go on to dog heaven. My friend and I made that one final trip to the vet. We both held her with love and sadness as she drifted off peacefully. Wrapping her up in her favorite plaid blanket, she was brought home to finally rest.

Later that afternoon when we buried her beneath one of the big oak trees, I said my tearful goodbyes in silence; “My sweet Katie, thank you for all the joy you brought to my life. I’m so grateful for everything you’ve taught me these last two weeks and my hope is that the last days I spend on this earth will be as wonderful as yours.”

I knew this was a turning point in my life and one of the greatest gifts I had ever received.

Taylor Kay Stephens -Speaker, author and life coach

www.taylorkaystephens.com