Then more love.
This is what my rescue dog, Nava, has taught me.
Just before COVID-19, the rescue that I volunteer with was arranging to do a transport of several dogs from a rescue in the southern United States to our network up here in Canada.
We ensure that we have foster homes set up for all dogs before we can commit to adding them to the convoy.
As the date of the transport approached, I had my foster dog Sadie lined up.
I had the talk with StanLee, my Great Dane. I explained to him that Sadie was coming up from where he had come from just under a year ago. He would need to share his beds and toys. He was all too excited.
About a week before we were scheduled to collect these pups, the head of the rescue sent out a plea in our foster group chat. With heartbreaking and graphic photos, she introduced Faith, a sweet little two-year-old Georgia mutt, who had been strangled, shot, and left to die.
Through my instant tears, I managed to read that she had been rescued, cared for, and nursed to health by the ladies and vets down south. Bless them. It was now time for her freedom ride. We needed a foster home to be able to bring her up.
Before my logical mind could process what I was doing, my heart and thumbs typed out, “I’ll take her.” I openly sobbed. I was full-on, ugly crying now.
All the questions arose…how the f*ck could anyone?
It didn’t matter. I didn’t want to be able to relate to or understand that.
Sometimes I feel like I am almost not strong enough to be volunteering in rescue, as I can’t unsee or unknow some of the things that have come to my awareness.
When I met her that day, amidst the beautiful chaos that was 17 confused, kinetic dogs, time stopped for a moment. This was her. She was happy and healthy-looking. She wiggled with uncontrolled excitement. I could feel love radiating from her smiling face. She loved everyone. I think we both peed a little.
She and Sadie came home with me that evening.
StanLee was chuffed to have two new friends. “Can we keep her, mom?” I could nearly hear him ask as they played and roughhoused in the yard. “I like this one…” He favoured Faith over Sadie.
Within a week, the reality of COVID-19 enveloped our world, and we all went into isolation. I hunkered down with my new friends and my old roomies (resident cats: Eddy, Angel, and of course, StanLee).
Sadie and most of the dogs were adopted quickly (via virtual meetups) as so many humans sought companionship in their new reality. I couldn’t quite explain it, but I was reluctant to showcase Faith for adoption.
I felt a deep connection to her—an understanding. Her black seal-pup like eyes looked past my face and right into my soul.
I knew I could learn from her. She had been harmed so gravely, and yet still had so much love to give. She gave it freely, abundantly, without conditions—without expecting any in return. It was pure.
I made a tearful promise to her one evening that she would only ever know love in return, from this day forward. She was home. She sighed knowingly.
I adopted her. I called her Nava. It means “new” in Sanskrit and “beautiful” in Hebrew, I read. “Welcome to your new, beautiful life, sweet girl,” I whispered.
Each day that we spend together is nothing short of a gift. She greets me in the morning with an unstoppable wiggle of infectious excitement. “This is the best day ever!” her eyes exclaim.
I am humbled each day that I get to be her human, and she, my teacher. That we get to spend her lifetime together, learning from one another. That she didn’t let the unspeakable actions of one or two humans darken her light. That she lives every day in this blissful present moment. That she only sees the good in people. That she is a portrait of resilience and not a product of what has happened to her. That she finds contentment in all that surrounds her. That she wants nothing more.
Her scars are apparent on the outside, but her heart bears not even a bruise. It is bursting with immeasurable love. She is my profound, wise teacher.
She’s a proper little Care Bear, just shining her light and love for anyone who will receive it. And even those that can’t.
Shine on sweet girl, shine on.
Each day, I can only try to be a bit more like Nava.
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