Opening my eyes

Jack climbing the steps to the top of the pyramid at Coba

One of the things that I asked for, in prayer, before my trip to Mexico, was to feel at peace about the animals there. When we went to Costa Rica a few years ago, there were so many straggly and skinny dogs and cats around, that the only way I could mentally feel at all at ease was to buy small bags of dog food and carry it with me, so I could at least give the hungry animal a meal. This time, we arrived at our beach house late at night and I heard dogs nearby.

The next morning I was walking past the home on our left and saw 3 well-cared for dogs (all were mixed breeds and seemed like they had pit bull in them). Our neighbors introduced themselves and I discovered that they were animal lovers and did a lot of work locally, and back in the states, to help animals in need. They also told me about a lot of good work that was being done by others in the area to get medical care, spay/neutering programs in place. I knew that they were a part of my answered prayer.

It was also interesting to me that my perspective had changed somewhat, thanks to the writing of Jon Katz. Even though a lot of the animals were very thin (by my standards) as I tried to observe them (without judgement),  I saw something that I hadn’t seen before; many of them seemed happier, on their daily missions to get food and attention, than I remembered. In the past, I just wanted to scoop up every uncared for animal, take them home, feed them and keep them “safe”. I didn’t really look at them as whole beings, I saw them through the filter of a negative label; “abandoned animal that needed/wanted my help”. As I became more observant on this trip, I could see that this, in many cases, was not the truth.

Many years ago, I worked for a community of monks (who also raised dogs) and often phone calls would come in from desperate dog owners saying that the dogs were unruly or tearing up the apartment. When the full story came out, it was clear that these dogs were just bored to distraction from living in “our world”…a cushy apartment in New York City might seem like heaven to us, but to an active dog, it can be a lonely and difficult existence.

I still love supporting shelters and feeding hungry animals, but my eyes were opened to seeing in a more expansive way on this trip. Thank you Jon.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. Dalai Lama

20 thoughts on “Opening my eyes”

  1. Yes, Mary. Thank you for the timely reminder to see, acknowledege and support many sources of good work on behalf of animals. We each do what we can. Your kitties and Luke would certainly agree to that, lucky creatures that they are!
    From Fran

  2. Good morning Mary! I always receive so much through each of your posts and the flock comments. Today, I hear three very important messages for me. First, “I saw them through the filter of a negative label”. Then, “my eyes were opened to seeing in a more expansive way”. And “I do not judge the universe”. I aspire to see and feel with my eyes and heart wide open and your post, this story, new perspective, will help me to remember to think about things a bit differently…thank you!

  3. We had the same experience in Costa Rica years ago, and there was one young male dog in particular who seemed to be waiting for us each day. Our son who was young at the time had difficulty thinking of the dog being ‘homeless’ (which for us, I guess, is not having a family who loves and cares for him). We decided that our dogs at home had asked him (we named him Paco) to keep an eye on us while we were there. That changed our outlook and let us put the sadness aside. We said goodbye to Paco when we left and told him we hoped he had a new family to watch over soon. It may have just been a story to satisfy a child, but it helped me, too. It gave the dog a dignity and purpose that I might not have recognized otherwise.

  4. Welcome back Mary, missed you, glad to hear the trip went well after all.
    “Saving one dog will not save the world but surely for that one dog the world will change forever” Hope someday there will be no more homeless dogs,but in the meantime,with people like you and other animal lovers, help is on the way.

  5. Mary…how very true that seeing the animals, perhaps through their eyes and not our own (albeit a caring, concerned way of looking at them but none the less, not a complete picture)…thank you for this post. It says so much about honoring life from a ‘glass full’ perspective.

  6. Mary,

    I know what you mean by Jons writing and he has helped me in my views towards this issue also. However I do have a problem when I see dogs staked out or tied outside with no cover or food or water and then I do take action with the proper authorities as I too am an avid animal lover.

  7. Recently my son shared a blog with me called The Tiny Buddha. I had just finished reading it before your message today Mary. Strikingly similar, the same topic, releasing judgment, changing perspective, in this case the writer speaking of the last difficult months of her mother’s life. I copy/pasted the link below if anyone is interested. Sure looks like a long ‘link’. Hope it opens.

    1. Thanks for posting this link, Susan. I love words of wisdom from any direction!

    2. Thank you Susan…this is a wonderful link…profound and deep wisdom here!

  8. Yes, Mary….seeing everything from an untried perspective is goal of mine which you helped bring about. Over the course of the year, reading your blogs, I have come to realize how narrow my own sight has been about so many things. This blog today regarding the animals is right-on for me, as I am taking my Reiki training into that arena. I try to fathom out what the experience of the animal is and what type of life it wants to live, and then I help as much as I can without interfering in the animal’s “plan.”

    Having said that though, I must also say that I will always try to save an animal in trouble. That may be considered a judgment on my part, but I will do it regardless. For me, compassion has to be open-ended.

    I’m really glad you’re back!

    1. I loved your blog Suzanne and we think alike as far as helping animals we feel are in need…………………………glad you belong to this group!

      1. Thank you, Julie V.! It’s really nice of you to say this. I never know when I’m going to get myself into trouble, so your appreciative comment was as good as a teaspoon of honey in my tea!

    2. I so agree with you Suzanne…a friend and I were talking about this post today and the unspoken code that we intuitively honor of helping those in trouble. …no formula, just an inner awareness that “this one is ours”

  9. “that this one is ours” – I am nestled into my two most precious (son’s) dogs., watching over them tonight, and I keep writing and deleting, and seeing your words Mary, “this one is ours”, (these two dogs were both pitt bull rescues) All they want right now, is to settle right next to me, cuddle on in, they humble me. Love to the flock!

  10. I learned this same philosophy through Jon’s writings! It brings me relief when I need it. 🙂

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