Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dog is my Co-Pilot

Critter Stories - Part 0

We've all seen the bumper sticker and snickered. Whether it's because you love the simple, yet profound, pun-y-ness or because you are as screwed up religiously as I am, somehow the sentiment expressed just feels right.

I bring it up because I was recently challenged to get in touch with my spiritual center and the concept of a higher power - or as I affectionately refer to she/he/it: my HP. Not a simple task for me, I can assure you. I was brought up Methodist and in my teens I recognized that I'm an ecclesiastical misfit. Since then I have steadfastly held to a staunch agnostic position. I'm a literal and logical guy, strongly advocate using the scientific method and believe that data is all-important in separating truth from what isn't. Even so, I've been compelled to explore and appreciate religious beliefs, ceremonies and histories of many formal and informal groups, churches and organizations. I've even met wth native American shamen/shamenesses and practicing wickens and found them to be intellectually rigorous and emotionally compelling. Now, I'm not going to jump into any one formal religious practice any time soon, but I find there is great commonality among them all: something bigger than me.

This brings me to what I do believe. As a compelling spiritual basis I find that the earth itself and the beings (= animals) that live here not only share a common existence, but we are all connected on physical, emotional and myriad other levels that transcend the concept of life. I can listen to the sound of the wind gusting through leaves, experience water crashing onto rocks below a falls or feel the warmth and heartbeat of my cat or dog as they nap next to me on the sofa and know that this is something powerful and important. So if I have to identify an HP, it is the aggregation of the very planet we are on and the life that it hold. I look to those things for strength, support and guidance. Heavy stuff indeed.

I recently started noticing regular, beneficial happenings in my life and I've been attributing them to my HP. When I'm stressed about not having a job, worried about whether I can cover this bill or that, or just overwhelmed by the bad news that seems to be coming from everywhere, I give it all over to HP. It's the "something bigger" that can get me through.

Okay, so how does this connect back to the subject at hand? Sometimes, I think part of my HP is my long-time buddy Cooper. He was our first Jack Russell Terrier who we had to put down early last year because his Cushings and related issues became too overwhelming. He had been a great source of love for Carrie and I throughout our marriage. He embodied pure, unfettered trust, warmth and acceptance.
And as a key player on my HP "team", he will always be with me.

And with the addition of Ruby, our now 11-month old black lab, I can feel the power of dog in a bigger and even less controllable package. She is the newest member of our burgeoning pack of critters which now includes 2 dogs, 2 cats, a leapard gecko and the occasional outdoor critter (including the bunnies, turkeys, lizards, moles... you name it, we've seen it).

All of this is great fodder for stories I can, and will, be sharing in the days, weeks and months to come. I just thought you'd like to see how it all comes together into something bigger. Because if the critters I surround myself have a greater purpose, that means it's much more important for me to try and find the meaning behind the silly and downright purplexing things my pets do on a regular basis.

Count me as a strong believer that "dog is my co-pilot". And if you do too, of course there is a web site where you can buy the requisite t-shirt.

Cheers! - Jason

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