“The Wanderer” 1st in a New Series for Animal University
Greetings Friends! Isn’t this exciting, the launch of my blog with Animal University! I have decided to blog when Spirit moves me, and friends, Spirit has moved me! I realize this particular and introductory blog post ultimately sets the tone, and I am setting it with a ‘go big or go home’ mentality. As stated in my introduction, my intention for this blog is to have a “conversation about how we can be compassionate about addiction, and compassionate about the animals whose lives are touched by addiction.” Recently, a story has come to my attention that cries out for compassion of both animal and human. I will admit, when I first heard this story, I was mortified. I say that as I want you, the reader, to be clear about something. The stories I share here are not of actions I condone. They are stories that I feel deserve a closer look. They deserve a closer look because they are true. Without compassion they will never be understood and will continue to invite judgment by those who do not understand.
This is a story about the dark side of addiction. It is the story about a man who drinks alcohol, a lot of alcohol. It is also the story about a dog that was rescued and subsequently abandoned by this man who drinks.
This man is a wanderer, and in his wanderings comes in contact with many. In this past year, this man met a feral dog that was living in the woods of New Orleans. Out of the kindness of his heart the man invited this dog to wander with him and his family in their bus. The dog, unsure, yet excited for some companionship, agrees. Fast forward many months and thousands of miles later to the great state of Minnesota. The man is frustrated with the dog, and the dog is frustrated with the man. Neither has learned to live well with others, and although they embarked on this journey together, it will not end the same way. You see the man who drinks alcohol loves this dog very much. Unfortunately, for all who come into contact with this man, love is not enough; in fact it is too much. This man does not believe he deserves love. He knows he is an alcoholic. He knows deep down somewhere that he drinks in excess and that the alcohol fuels poor choices. What he does not know is how to stop, and I would venture to guess that he doesn’t think he DESERVES to stop and subsequently live a sober happy life. You see, this man punishes himself and as a result punishes those around him, including the feral dog he invited into his life. The dog was on a pretty sharp learning curve and hadn’t quite figured out the rules he was to follow, including the rule of not peeing in the bus. After yet another accident in the bus the man snapped and decided the dog must go…..now. And by go, he brought the dog into the forests of MN and released him back into the world to fend for himself.
Not a pretty story. Not a happy ending. Surprisingly this story is about love. You will remember that I said the man loved the dog. How can that be you ask? It is actually quite simple, he loves the dog, and not himself and therefore believes he is not worthy of the dog’s love and companionship. The dogs actions were driven by confusion and poor communication and to some may represent a weak constitution, specifically to those who also have a weak constitution. The dog represents the inner failings of the man, he also represents unconditional love……both terrifying. As punishment to himself, the man banishes the dog. The man does not believe he is deserving of unconditional love, and his perceived inner failings are too great to keep around.
I am ending this post now, with the intention of speaking to it further in the future. I leave with this quote by the great teacher Pema Chodrin, and invite you to ponder this story with compassion rather than judgment:
“We are all capable of becoming fundamentalists because we get addicted to other people’s wrongness.”
* Names and specifics have been altered to protect the anonymity of those spoken of here.
* Sara Sherman is a regular contributor to Animal University’s Blogs. This subject is one that is rarely addressed. It is the intention of Animal University to reach out to animals and their people in all walks of life. Sara’s personal experiences enlighten and uplift.