Friday, December 14, 2012
WITHOUT DOGS LIFE WOULD BE A MISTAKE
Friedrich Nietzhe said, "Without music life would be a mistake." I want to expand his wisdom to include, "Without dogs life would be a mistake." This I believe with all of my heart. As far as I am concerned there is no truer truth. I see it daily. I breathe it and sleep it. I know it in my heart, my soul.
When my warriors reach out to my Gracie and Kelsie in pain, I see the story of how they met and how someday because of this brief acquaintance something inside the warrior will awaken and begin healing with a best friend by his side. And together they will soldier onward to distant horizons more brilliant than they could have ever dreamed. Life will return. Not the same life, but life will return.
Sometimes a simple lick of a dog on their cheeks or they hands gives them the courage and strength to carry on. And then there are times it tells them to put down the gun they have to their heads.
Rachel Naomi Remen, MD said, "Much of life can never be explained but only witnessed." Warriors and their dogs, whether in war or peace, have an inexplicable bond which affirms that some of us get by with a little help from our friends, and then some of us are literally saved by them.
Recovery for a warrior with PTSD/TBI just may begin with healing the inner self. And following his heart just might be the awakening. Pressing past the pain with a dog by their side they find their fear subsides. Stories I have been told of going to a movie for the first time in 24 years, going to the supermarket or super store at two in the morning is a thing of the past, days of hiding in the closet barricaded with duffel bags and holding a knife in their apartment are over.
When I asked a female warrior what words she would share with her fellow wounded warriors she said, "There is a purpose for your being here. You must hold on."
For the warriors we have been blessed to reach, we find their most powerful memories are from their senses. The touch and smell of war permeates their lives day and night, but the introduction of a therapy or service dog into their lives brings a very different kind of sensory stimulation. One that awakens a part of them that they felt they had lost forever.
Most people awaken each morning and take life for granted. I am not afforded that luxury because of what I do, hear, see, and absorb. I would never trade my life.
I am reminded of a warrior I visited with my therapy dog Gracie. We walked into his room where he was recovering from double leg amputations. We had never met him before but his entire demeanor changed when he saw her. He told me that to be fully alive is to believe that anything and everything is possible. Then he looked at me with a sincerity that permeated the room that when walked into his room his saw wings on Gracie. 'An angel had entered his room.' I believed him. Little sightless Gracie has been able to open hearts and eyes to life...to a life these warriors felt was lost. She has been a warrior's angel.
These are stories of character, patriotism and devoted love of country. These are stories that you witness and grasp the reality of a relationship that is hard to tell, but it is real and defined by trust.
It is by seeing through the lace of these warrior's stories that I have come to know and hold and absorb another's pain and deep sorrow. Sometimes I can't let it go. Sometimes I can't forget. How are they sustained through grief, loss and change?
So for me I go back to my mantra ~ 'Little matters in this world if we have not learned how to touch the heart of another and be touched.'