A (Wo) man’s best Friend

Radar is beautiful three year old miniature (red merle) Australian Shepard. He is also a rescue dog. My youngest daughter and her husband brought him home from a shelter almost two years ago. I remember the day I met him like it was yesterday.

I stopped by on my way home from work and it was love at first sight. After the initial excitement and playful antics between the two of us, I hugged him and as he leaned into me the tears began to fall as I knew he had found his forever home. I was so happy for Radar and his new parents. It was a love match to be sure.

Over the last two years Radar and I have become very close. He is always excited to see me and I him. I don’t believe anyone has ever been as excited to see me as Radar always is. It warms my heart and fills me with joy. There are times when I question his devotion, thinking he must want something from me but I am wrong to question such unconditional love. He has no agenda. He is just happy to see me.

May 5th of last year my life changed in a very significant way. Everything I knew to be true turned out to be a lie. The transition has not been an easy one. Going through a divorce and having to rethink my future at the age of 49 was not something I ever expected to be doing. My future was my husband. My retirement was my husband. My love was my husband. Every time I watched or heard something about women needing to be sure to take care of themselves and not rely on their husbands I was smug. I knew they weren’t talking about me. I was secure in my marriage and the commitment my partner had made to me.

I was wrong.

Now I live with my youngest daughter, her husband, their two cats and Radar. I enjoy living with them as they are easygoing, loving, compassionate and accepting people. I am grateful for their support, encouragement and the occasional shoulder to cry on.

So, here I sit, almost a year later and I am feeling very sad. I live with PTSD and am extremely date sensitive as well as having strong body memories. This combination will generally lead me down a path that is fraught with sadness, pain and fear…

I am afraid that I won’t be able to handle the pain. I am afraid of what I will do in order to avoid the pain. To help with this fear I spoke to a friend, a sister, my daughters and scheduled an appointment with my therapist. I thought I had all the bases covered, I thought everything would be okay. Sometimes just acknowledging that something might be painful is enough to keep the feelings at bay.

I woke up this morning (after a horrible Match.com date last night) and was feeling okay. I had another date scheduled today but decided to cancel. I was feeling the need to stay home and spend time with my daughter.

I’m glad I did.

As I moved throughout the day I was experiencing a wide variety of emotions from sadness to anger to resignation. It was if I had purchased an all-day pass on the emotional rollercoaster and I had no idea how to get off this ride.

In addition to trying to deal with all of these emotions I found myself wondering what the heck was going on with Radar. He often follows me around the house looking for love or the occasional treat but today he seemed particularly tenacious in trying to get my attention. Everywhere I turned, there he was.

We were several hours into this lazy but somber Sunday when Radar came to sit quietly at my feet where I stood in front of the fire place soaking in the heat. I looked down at him and asked, “What do you want, Radar?” Even though I spoke to him in a somewhat exasperated tone he began to wag his tail and then he smiled.

Yes, Radar smiles. If you didn’t know him it might be a bit disconcerting to see him pull back his muzzle, showing off his gums and teeth in a wide, tentative but loving grin. He does it often and each time he does I am reminded of the first day we met. The day we fell in love.

I smiled back at him despite my sadness and it was then I realized what it was he had been doing all day by following me around, nuzzling me with his nose, forcing himself into my arms. This wonderful, amazing creature was offering me a shoulder. A soft place to fall. As I lowered myself to the floor, knees sinking into the carpet, I wrapped my arms around this beautiful soul, placing my head on his shoulder and began to cry. The tears flowed freely wetting his fur as he remained still, holding that sacred safe space while my body shook with the force of my despair.

At one point I pulled back not wanting to overwhelm him with the weight of my grief but he pushed his way back into my arms and once again I lowered my head, held him close and allowed myself to let go and release the ache and sorrow I had been keeping bottled up all day.

Several minutes passed before Radar and I agreed that I was okay. I sat up and gently cupped his face with my hands. Looking deep into his eyes I said, “Thank you. Thank you.” It was a rare gift to have been given and one I will be forever grateful for.

I am so grateful this happened to me.

This entry was posted in Animals, Dogs, Home and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A (Wo) man’s best Friend

  1. piratewoman says:

    My Sheltie does this as well. Dogs can sense when we are sad. I’m so glad you have Radar. Feel better soon.

  2. happenstance says:

    Stumbled upon this, loved it.

  3. {{{HUGE HUGS, Nat!}}} He is such a good dog and he’s so lucky to have you, and you him. I miss you and want to video chat soon. Off to email you before I head to bed. Love you!! xoxo

  4. Amber says:

    Loved this story Aunt Natalie….I shed tears at how beautiful it was. I had a cat that would curl up in my lap when I cried and literally wipe the tears that fell from my eyes. I miss her. Please know that I’m thinking of you and the journey that you are on. Love you..amber

  5. Natalie, I know you will be ok, partly because of Radar, but mostly because you are an extraordinary woman who is going to pull herself up. You are going to find your way, and it’s going to be so much better. You are beautiful and smart and strong. I love your writing too. Your narrative flows smoothly and without pretentions, just smooth writing about feelings and emotions.

    There is a documentary film calle Buck, it’s a story about a man who grew up in an extremely abusive home and dedicates his life to tame wild horses using a humane phylosophy of animal training. The relationship he develops with animals is wonderful. What resonated with me from your story is how your dog senses your emotions and needs, much like “Buck” describes it in the film.

    Keep writing, and keep that dog.

    Love, Lisbeth

    • Thank you, Lisbeth. I appreciate your words and the sentiment that fuels them. I have seen the movie Buck and loved it. Radar is actually my daughter’s dog and no, he won’t be going anywhere.

      Always writing…

      Natalie

  6. Betsy says:

    Wow. I saw a poster awhile back that said ” Dogs: the only creature on earth that loves you more than themselves.” I thank god for my dog and am so thankful Radar is in your life. A reminder that I have so much to learn from them. Thank you for your candid words Natalie! Love to you.

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