Love protects

Otto and I have now been married for coming up on three years; I’ve been divorced for almost seven. My point is that there has been plenty of time for my “new life” to become the new status quo, and no matter how I look at it, there is no angle from which anything about the existence I now enjoy should be surprising or new-feeling.

Except.

There were bad years before the divorce, bad time DURING the divorce, bad years after the divorce—basically plenty of time in which my life marched along to misery and broken dreams and just the tiniest sliver of hope for better days ahead. I always said that kind of hope was torture; there were times when I wished for acceptance, instead, rather than what seemed like such an unattainable state.

And it turns out that THEN still impacts NOW.

The result is that I am still surprised, sometimes, to acknowledge that life is good. That the sky hasn’t fallen. That I can exhale. Not that I can take it for granted—because I never want to do that—but that there is life after Bad Times and I can stop looking over my shoulder for what I’ve somehow convinced myself is the inevitable crisis yet to come.

It’s a process, of course. I’m always learning and time does make it easier. (Also, the periodic day-to-day crises are a good reminder that I shall never want for things to fret over. Lucky me!) Otto has graciously shepherded me through many stages of adjustment, and up until a few months ago I really believed I’d slain the necessary demons and truly embraced the Here And Now, but then we got the dog.

We have no idea what happened to Licorice before she was rescued. We’ve seen her initial rescue pictures; she was half-bald and the hair that remained was tangled and matted. She was emaciated and pitiful. She was shy with people but not feral or anything—eventually she’d warm up and then love you very much. She came to us mostly physically restored, but still somewhat timid.

At the beginning of her time with us, she followed me around like a duckling. So far as she was concerned, I was Mama and Boss and as long as she could see me, be close to me, she would be okay. I was happy to heap love upon her pretty much whenever she asked, so it was all good.

Months passed and the remainder of her missing fur grew in, shiny and luxurious. She began waiting at the door, tail wagging non-stop, whenever the bus brought her kids home from school. She would still stay here in the office with me, but she no longer needed to be in my lap or laying on my feet every moment.

Today, you would never know she was anything other than an happy, healthy (not to mention SPOILED ROTTEN) dog. She plays with toys; she bounds around the yard; she wrestles with Monkey and licks Chickadee awake every morning.

And an interesting thing has happened: Whereas she used to come leap into my lap (if she wasn’t already there) whenever the doorbell rang or visitors appeared, Licorice now spends a good portion of her day poised on the arm of our easy chair, staring out the front window, ready to alert me to any changes outside.

She’s reached the pinnacle of doggie/family bonding: She is now our protector.

Sure, at her size (“Twelve pounds of terror!” as we say) it’s not like she’ll truly be able to fend off a crazed ax murderer, but SHE doesn’t know that. So far as she’s concerned, she has her post, her duties, and life is grand.

I doubt she sits around thinking about what happened before, or worrying that all of this could go awry. Dogs don’t do that, right?

Imagine my surprise to discover, walking past her on her “perch” the other day, that having this tiny sentry by the door was the thing that made me realize that Yeah, this is my family, my home, my current reality… and the backstory is ancient history.

licorice-vulture

We loved her back into herself, and now she’s doing the same for me. Kind of makes the expensive kibble seem like a pretty good bargain.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s hoping you know the protective, restorative power of love in your home, too (furry or not).

41 Responses to “Love protects”

  1. 1
    RuthWells January 7, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Aww. Few things in life are as pure as doggy-love. Give her a chin-skritch for me.

  2. 2
    Kathy Knapp January 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Lovely.

  3. 3
    MomCat January 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Pet love is the purest – revel in it!

  4. 4
    Randi January 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Very nice!

  5. 5
    Melissa January 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    This really touched a nerve today. Thank you!

  6. 6
    Rebecca January 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Can’t wait till my backstory is ancient history. Hard to imagine that it ever will be when I am in the middle of that story! Thanks for the peek into what I hope will be my future.

  7. 7
    meghann January 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    She is a great dog. I feel like an auntie to her now that I’ve met her and bonded over pepperoni.

    I love my dog too. I never was a dog person until I got mine. We connect on some deep level, and I know even when I am at the bottom of the pit, she’ll be there for me, wagging her tail.

    God knew what he was doing when he made dogs.

  8. 8
    Scottsdale Girl January 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    the best part of my “work from home” days is the knowledge that my dogs (and to some extent the evil cats) are happy I am here with them.
    Unconditional love, fierce protectiveness, those delicious doggie smiles.

    Lovely Love Thursday Mir.

  9. 9
    Sharon January 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Sounds like Licorice found the right family. Leo, the cat on my lap right now, sends his best regards. Leo found us in the fall of 2008 – showed up on our porch, visibly thin with tics in his fur, whiskers missing and scratches on his face. He has no claws so we have no idea how he survived or how long he was on his own. People who meet Leo today cannot believe he is the cat I described so many months ago. We loved him back to health, and Leo has repaid us with loyalty and love beyond measure. Happy Love Thursday.

  10. 10
    Crisanne January 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    We lost our kitty almost 2 months ago and this is the longest I’ve ever been without a pet. I’m missing that pet love very much these days.

  11. 11
    sassymonkey January 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Aww. There is nothing cuter than a protective doggie in the window. (And three years? Seriously? Already?)

  12. 12
    Cindy January 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    I needed this today. Thank you Mir!

  13. 13
    Kim January 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    My pom thawed out my frozen heart and taught me how to love unconditionally again. Dogs are great.

  14. 14
    Tammy January 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Aaawww. Our lab/shepherd Harley loves to do the same thing…uses the arm of the couch as his sentry post to look out the window. I think if he could physically could be IN the window, he would.

  15. 15
    Lylah January 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Such a wonderful Love Thursday post, Mir! And for the reminder that while the past may inform the present, and may affect present, it does not control the present. Thank you for sharing this!

  16. 16
    DauNae January 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    I felt a sense of sadness and relief in reading this. I am coming up on a year since my divorce and just recently broke up with the new boyfriend. I have more or less given my dog fully to my Ex-husband now because it seems to be best for all. I miss my dog a lot. I liked your relating how she is now to how your life is now as well. That things can be good again.

  17. 17
    Tracy January 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    I can’t believe I’m sitting here at my desk with big crocodile tears over this post. But I am. I love Licorice and everything that brought her to be. And yes, I still wonder about Super. Sorry. I. can’t. help. it.
    Happy Love Thursday.

  18. 18
    Megan January 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Oh honey, you’re singin’ my song. I still have the shoulders-scrunched-up feeling all the time. Even with several something-amazings happening in my life in the last few months I STILL turn them over and look for the black and slimy side – it’s the ‘oh no, nothing good can possibly happen so how will this go wrong?’ method of appreciation. But I also am deeply, humbly, constantly grateful for the rock-solid good things (family and friends) that have been there all along, and I’m trying to learn, slowly, to be open to the new stuff that might, just possibly, be wonderful too.

  19. 19
    JennyM January 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Thanks — it does get hard to see past the edge of your personal darkness and remember that there’s light and pepperoni out there and that you’ll get to roll around in it again someday. Carpe doggem!

  20. 20
    Karen January 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Great post, Mir. :-)

  21. 21
    April January 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I’ve been reading you for awhile now, and have loved every Licorice story you’ve featured. This post in particular warmed my heart, and so I am delurking to tell you I think it is wonderful that your sweet family and such a special fur-baby found each other.

  22. 22
    Katie in MA January 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I think it’s only fair that you get happy surprises from time to time, too. Like, “Oh! Hey! I’m happy!” Glad this is one of those times!

    Happy Love Thursday!

  23. 23
    Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom January 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Super post.

  24. 24
    The Other Leanne January 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Maybe she’s looking to see if Super shows up so she can go “nyah, nyah, nyah”.
    I loved this post, and once again was weeping in my office (just as my 2pm appt walked in!).

  25. 25
    Reagan January 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Oh, I have tears. What a beautiful post- thank you.

  26. 26
    Olive Cooper January 7, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    This post was like a warm kitten on my lap. Wonderful writing.

  27. 27
    Flea January 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

    Oh Mir. You’ve made me cry. I’m so very happy for you. And Licorice. And your whole crew. :) Happy Love Thursday!

  28. 28
    Chris January 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    OMG…reduce a person to tears why don’t you!! That was so precious. You rock!

  29. 29
    Saksham January 8, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    You always come up with great stuff I just love your site you are very talented I’ll recommend your site to my friends and family members great job very appreciated..keep it up..

  30. 30
    Nicki January 8, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    I’ve had my own special Love Thursdays lately. On Christmas Eve, Love Admitted Mistakes. On New Year’s Eve, Love Looked to the Future. And last night, Love Understood. I’m hoping that someday, I, too, can get past my past.

    Thank you for always reminding me that I’m not alone.

  31. 31
    Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com January 8, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Sometimes it’s the little things, the little individuals (pets too!) in our lives that teach us the most about ourselves, huh?

  32. 32
    kathy January 8, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    That is so sweet. I wanted to let you know that even though I’ve never had the backstory you have, I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall, keep looking behind my back – because I feel like my life is so charmed. :) So there you go. :) One side effect is that every day i realize how lucky I am and how charmed I am – none of the kids have medical issues, we have hope, we have a roof over our heads and the ability to bring food into the house. it doesn’t get much better than that.

    Dogs need jobs. A dog without a job is a dog with a problem. Ours protects us from flapping plastic bags and palm leaves and coconuts. Go figure. Oh, and on occasion, when a possum enters the kitchen.

  33. 33
    Ellen January 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    “Today, you would never know she was anything other than an happy, healthy (not to mention SPOILED ROTTEN) dog. She plays with toys; she bounds around the yard; she wrestles with Monkey and licks Chickadee awake every morning.”

    When I read that, I thought you said that she “wrestles with Mondays.” I thought to myself… “Don’t we all!”

  34. 34
    Debra January 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    Your current ‘happily ever after’ is my reminder that there is life after divorce and unhappiness. As silly as this may sound, I remind myself that ‘my Otto’ is out there somewhere, though, no one knows what the heck I’m talking about when I say it!

  35. 35
    The Glamorous WAHM January 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    My ex-husband is actually the one who gave us our dog. I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with her but, she has won my heart over and over again. If only we humans could love as unconditionally as a dog does. Can you imagine our world?

    I don’t know your beliefs but God tells us in the bible that our days are numbered and will be FULL of trouble. However, he also promises to take the bad in our lives and turn it to good. He promises to restore all that the locusts have eaten.

    Looks like that’s exactly what He’s done for you sister, even through the love of a dog. Be blessed =)

  36. 36
    Cele January 9, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    Thank you for the reminders to not take the everyday joys of life for granted.

  37. 37
    mom, again January 9, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    The ever after part of my life has been around for almost 2 decades. I probably spent the first 10 of that adjusting, but I’ve spent the next almost 10 being surprised again and again that life is actually pretty good and expected to continue that way. I do not have to be constantly worried that the good will end, it likely won’t.

    The bad part was really only about 5 years. It’s really only been within the last year that I realized I can define myself by the last two decades, not that half decade!

  38. 38
    louloupink January 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    What a thoughtful post. Thank you.

  39. 39
    Lorraine January 10, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Our new cat arrived from her foster home about 12 hours ago and already feels like part of the family. I forgot how good pet love feels! (and rolling around on the kitchen floor laughing at catnip toys flying through the air…)

  40. 40
    Greg January 10, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    On our third cat in this household. First died too old. The second too young. The current one is just happy – like she woke up on the set of Dynasty compared to where she was when we got her. Which is probably a lesson in and of itself. Best wishes to your family circle!

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