Little Matilda joined our family in early April, following the sad loss of our beautiful Theo to lymphoma earlier in the year. She needed us as much as we needed her - her previous Mum had developed some health issues and was no longer able to look after her, so we took Luna to meet Matilda and they were friends at first sight...
She is, as all puppies are, part little angel, part tiny demon... but as Carl Jung once wrote, "The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites."
"The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites." - Carl Jung
Matilda certainly has great energy, as Luna can testify; they play crazy games of chase together - not caring whether they are in the garden, bedroom or sitting room, and then subside in a panting, happy heap. Like Luna, and like Daisy before her, Matilda knows how to bring the joy...
Matilda of course has no concept of self-judgement - she is fearless! She doesn't worry that she is "not good enough" because she likes to roll in pigeon poo, or that she is a "bad person" because she cherishes secret fantasies of catching one of the voles who inhabit the garden wall... she doesn't wallow in guilt because she was sick on our duvet at 4am... she just is as she is, and accepts herself for who she is because she has no idea that there is any other way to be. What liberation! No wonder she is so joyful...
Self-acceptance is a key aspect in developing wellbeing and rediscovering our own joy. To quote Carl Jung once again, "How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole." When we can accept all of ourselves - the light as well as the dark - then we are liberated from others' judgements of us; we realise that what others think of us is not about us at all - it is a reflection of their own thoughts and being.
It doesn't matter what others think of you - it is what you think of you that is the most important thing. Become fearless and spread the joy!
So Luna caught a mole yesterday evening… I’ve no idea where she found it, as there are no evident mole hills in the garden, but she was exceptionally pleased with herself. She refused to relinquish her prize in the garden, and carried it triumphantly into the house, where she was eventually persuaded to part with it in exchange for three biscuits – a deal which she subsequently regretted, if her disappointed searching was anything to go by…
The mole was, sadly, deceased by this point and was decently interred under the hedgerow across the lane. Cat families will often be distressingly familiar with this scenario, but with our dogs it is not so frequent (although certainly not unheard of!).
We somehow forget, when we are throwing the fluffy, squeaky toy in a fun game of chase, fetch and throw-in-the-air before chasing again, that in addition to the joyful interaction we are both having, we are also assisting our little hairy friends to hone their hunting skills…
Dogs are natural predators – it is their essential nature to hunt small, squeaky, furry or feathered things. Why should we expect them to be less dog, and more human, just because we choose to share our lives, our homes and our sofas with them?
It’s just over three weeks since little Luna joined us, and we can’t believe how easily she has just taken everything in her stride… Nothing seems to faze her, and she is abundantly curious about each new experience. “What excitement can I discover here?” seems to be her motto.
She’s deeply fascinated by the numerous bumblebees that frequent the clover flowers in the lawn; having briefly experimented with eating one, she’s now decided that’s possibly a bit too exciting and is contenting herself with sniffing them, and then chasing after them when they fly busily off to the next flower… The fat woodpigeons who sit, apparently in deep contemplation, on the lawn are also good fun to chase – flapping heavily away at the last minute, only to perch on the wall and look down at her in high dudgeon at being so rudely awakened from their meditative trance.
An early exploration of the pond has fortunately not been repeated – no doubt to the collective relief of the newt population – but everything within the garden and without has been subject to her close sensory scrutiny. The paths and lanes we walk must smell astonishing to her; from her previous life in the suburbs of a city she is now surrounded by the sights and smells of horse and sheep, pheasant and partridge, hare, rabbit and deer…
And yet… every new experience is treated as a joyful discovery, enthusiastically widening her previous comfort zone of familiarity.
After the sad loss of Hugo earlier this month, we’ve certainly noticed a feeling which I can only describe as “less dogness” in the house. Hugo had a big spirit, and although he was sleeping for 23½ hours out of every 24, he was still very much present. Even with the four other canine members of staff we were left with a space; a vacancy, if you will…
Of course, the laws of physics state that nature abhors a vacuum. We should not have been surprised, therefore, when a candidate obligingly appeared this weekend to audition for the Hugo-shaped space in our lives…
Snippets is a black and white poodle – at first glance resembling a small, rotund and anxious-to-please sheep, she has a perpetually wagging tail and a pair of dark, liquid eyes under a cascade of ringlets which serve to give her a distinctly rakish air. Lily and Poppy came with us to the kennels to collect her and hardly batted an eyelid at the sudden appearance of this woolly little being who was lifted into the back of their car without so much as a by-your-leave.
Within a few hours of her arrival, Snippets was becoming a part of the team. Despite being summarily removed from her old environment and placed somewhere with absolutely no familiar frames of reference, she seemed to take everything completely in her stride. Showing her round the house, she had no hesitation in trying out the sofas (and the beds!) for comfort and sat down by the Aga as if greeting an old friend.
It’s interesting how like Hugo she is in some ways… the shape of her face, the expression of sweetness in her eyes, certain little quirks of character which are starting to emerge as she relaxes into her new home, and even her size all serve to remind us of our absent friend.
Snippets is a very good fit for that Hugo-shaped space in our home and our hearts, and it seems as though, like all of us, she is exactly where she is supposed to be.
A new family member is soon to be arriving in our midst – our three canine members of staff are shortly to be enhanced by the addition of Poppy; a small Lhasa Apso of endearing temperament. The dogs teach me a lot about happiness; living in the moment as they do, they have an amazing talent for it. Even if they fall out with each other (and they occasionally do!), five minutes later they can be curled up in a basket together, oblivious of whatever it was that caused the disagreement. They accept each other, and us, completely unconditionally and it is without question a wonderful thing to have somebody so enthusiastically delighted to see you each time you walk through the door – even when you have only been gone a few minutes!
Everyone who comes into our life has something to teach us. Spend some time as the student of your dog and discover what can happen when you live in the moment; experiencing the world through the filters of boundless enthusiasm and unconditional acceptance!
...and the Canine Members of Staff