Part I - The Choosing
On August 18, 2005 a mama gave birth to seven precious little ones whom we had the privilege of meeting just a few weeks after, their eyes barely open, still snug as little bugs in the safety of their mother’s warm embrace.
Fast forward a few weeks, we would make the journey to see them again. This time their blue eyes taking in the entire world, exploring their surroundings, curious and eager to experience what lie beyond the confines of the enclosure they now called home.
That day, unbeknownst to me, would be a special day. It would be the first day of the best years of my life, and the first of many many lessons to be learned from the most unsuspecting creature - the cutest yellow fur ball I’d ever seen. I had arrived that day believing I would be the one to show him the world, I would teach him how to interact, to be respectful, to be kind, I would give him everything I had, I would give him my heart.
My beliefs were about to shaken, and stirred. Little did I know that day would change the course of every life he would touch, forever.
The teachings began right away. What we thought was going to be our day to choose, to pick out the perfect little guy, to give him a home, quickly turned into us being the chosen ones. Our friend Jeff reached into the enclosure, and out of the middle of several little puppies pulled out this fat little carmel colored guy and said, “Hey, what about this guy?” John and I both looked straight into his eyes. The spell was cast. We were his. Instant Love.
We had completely discounted him because of his coloring, a very unusual mix of a yellow/foxfire with chocolate labrador features (light eyes and nose). A color combination worth more than your typical Labrador puppy. The second lesson - never, ever discount anyone or anything, and never assume you can’t have what you would like. If it’s meant to be, the universe will harmonize to make whatever you'd like your reality.
The owner surely must have noticed we had fallen, and fallen hard, or maybe it was just simply she was interested in having all the puppies spoken for sooner rather than later. Whatever her reason it didn’t really matter, she made us a generous offer, more than what we wanted to pay, more than his other little white, black, yellow, chocolate brothers and sisters, and he was the big goofy guy of the litter, not the leader, not the loner, just one of the many little puppies. And somehow we knew he was worth it. Which became our third lesson (and a lesson that we would re-experience 8 years later): When it comes to Love, it's all worth it!
We would visit him one more time before we could take him home, this time performing the dutiful check on his disposition - he passed every test from the Orvis Hunting Dog Manual with flying colors. He had grown considerably bigger, and his sweetness became ever so intoxicating. He may have been the most unassuming of the pack, but there was something special about this little guy. I think we cried that day as we left, sad to have to leave him, and anticipating our last and final trip to finally bring him home.
We arrived on his 7-week birthday eager as any new parent to bring their precious little one home. Upon our arrival we would learn there had been a coyote attack on the den earlier that week, his sister snatched, our carmel rolly polly safe and sound, the last dutiful act of love his mother would perform for her offspring. (We would come to find out later, with the help of an animal communicator, he would dream about this night for the rest of his life).
He feel asleep in my arms on the car ride home, safe from the coyotes, leaving everything he’d come to know and love. In that instant we were forever bonded, the course of each of our lives forever changed. We were now a family. He would rely on me, on us, to give him the best possible life a dog could ever know. And we would happily oblige, for he had put all his trust in us, he picked us as THE ones to make his time on earth as amazing as possible. Lesson #4 received loud and clear, we have been trusted with this one precious life, live it as completely and fully as possible. It is a gift and a privilege that is better when given and shared.
One of my coaches, Terry Hickey, says, “All of our pets are here to teach us something.” I have to say our guy has been one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from.
The lessons still continue to this day. Everyday I wake up and he shows me something new about him, about me, about the love, about the world, about life. This is the first of many stories I will share with you over the next few weeks. Each filled with the amazing lessons I have learned over the years from this majestic and noble creature we now lovingly call Pancho (aka, Pancho Dawg, Cheeto, Panchito, Baby Dog, Bubba Dog, the bestest dawg in the whole world, Bud, Sweets, and Monkey Dog). The story of his name is a good one, I'll share it next.
As I write these posts, Pancho lies on his bed next to me, sleeping soundly. Me, checking every once in a while to make sure he’s still breathing. His body being drained of it’s life by cancer. These stories, and the opportunity to share them, seemed the best way to celebrate the best part of my life, and pay tribute to his soul as it begins it’s journey to becoming our Guadian Angel.
Being Pancho’s Mom has forever changed me, my hope is his love will touch you too. The lessons he’s taught me are great reminders of what’s actually important in this one small blip we call life.