A little over 13 years ago Richard (my husband) was down in his home state of North Carolina when he came across a gaggle of puppies. At the time we had two dogs already, Lola (my now 17 year old Chihuahua) and Kodi (Richard’s departed and beloved Chow mix). They tolerated one another with little to no interaction and I had remarked a few times that I’d like to get a playmate for Lola. Well, it doesn’t take much for Richard to bring more beings into our home…. One of the pups came right up to him and pulled his shoe laces. He was talking to me on the phone at the time and he referred to the pup as “the little rascal”. So I said, “that’s the one! And we’ll call him Alfalfa!”, to which Richard replied, “Cory, we can’t name a dog Alfalfa”, so I said, “OK, it’s Spanky then.” And less than a day later, he was in my arms (in fact, Richard always says that I was way more excited to see Spanky than him ;-).
And so it began, our life with Spanky. Since that first day there’s always been something unique about this dog. He looks at us, I mean really looks at us and he’ll hold the gaze, for a long time. One day, early on, he was sitting in my lap, facing me, and looking into my eyes intently. I looked back and I felt something. I saw something. A spark of humanity, a glimmer of longing and hope, but also of sadness and despair. Richard was there and I remarked to him that Spanky is like Pinocchio. He looked at me kinda funny, and I reminded him that Pinocchio’s greatest wish was to be a “real boy”. That’s what I have always felt that Spanky is trying to tell me. He wants to be a real boy so badly. I think he has some inkling of understanding and appreciation for what a precious gift this human life really is (more so than most people do these days, it seems…).
It is, you know. Precious. Rare. There’s a Buddhist analogy about a blind turtle living on the ocean floor that comes up only once every hundred years for a gasp of air. And on that vast ocean there is but one round cattle yoke floating around. It’s said that the likelihood of that turtle surfacing up through the middle of that yoke is on par with the rarity of entering this world in a human body.
Now, whether you relate to Buddhism or believe in reincarnation isn’t of all that much consequence. The point is, the earth is and has been inhabited with many billions (and beyond) sentient (with breath) beings over the course of history. And here we are with this chance in this human body, with this breath and this brain, capable of learning, acting, and choosing. Capable of living a life of kindness and service (and of course, in many other ways).
So, Spanky is so very very precious to me because every day he reminds me to care, to choose wisely, and to show up for this life!
And I figure with all this meditating he does in my lap, he’s sure to come back as a real boy 😉