Support

Max has always supported me. Sure he gives me wry looks occasionally…

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But overall Max has been there for me. There have been times when I was lonely or frustrated or very confused about what to do next and Max provided me with company, comfort, and the kind of care that can re-center me when things start becoming chaotic.

And Max has supported me in the exciting, fun times too. When I have felt adventurous or when our lives moved through new changes, or when I felt like sitting outside and soaking in the day, Max was right there with me, providing encouragement, eagerness, and the kind of presence than amplifies as much enjoyment as possible.

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Max has supported my joy with shared joy and my mourning with shared mourning. To a large degree that is an honest form of compassion – Max is feeling with me, something I think most dogs do well. Max has taught me that the foundation of support is such compassionate presence. And since Max has no words to offer, the presence part of this work shines out.

Max has also taught me that often support really feels like a holding up or together. Whether in a sad or happy moment, Max’s compassion steadies me and his consistent presence helps keep things from unraveling. In showing me all that support, Max has taught me how it makes a difference and what a gift it is to offer to someone else.

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But even beyond his individual presence, Max has taught me much about the importance of a whole support system. I found out this week that the family (except for Max) would need to go out of town somewhat suddenly, and as is often the case an offer to watch Max was extended before I even asked around. In preparing for this unexpected event, he has helped me see and appreciate the many sources of support in my life.

Making sure Max is taken care of when I have to leave him home could be a major source of stress in my life, but because there are thoughtful people (and because Max is a charmer and makes plenty of friends), both Max and I have been able to rely on a system of communal support.

Often I forget or am reluctant to ask for help, both for watching Max and plenty of others things in my life. Part of that is not wanting to be a burden on others and part of it is thinking I can take care of everything myself. But then I remember the ways Max has offered me a consistent, compassionate presence that creates a foundation to bear that kind of burden. Max reminds me how good it is to rely on such support and to be honest about needing it.

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Ultimately, Max has taught me the real value of not trying to go it alone. Whether it was his own presence or the people around us who stepped in to watch him, Max regularly shows me the value of a community of people (and animals) that can offer each other the foundation and care needed to hold everything together.

So thank you Max for teaching me the value of supporting one another. Thank you for holding me up and being there when I have needed or wanted your presence. And thank you to all who make up our support system – your care not only impacts us, but also hopefully ripples out throughout the world.

Comfort

Max is a sneaky little blanket thief. Throughout this past winter, I documented every case I could of his diabolical plans to horde all the blankets in the house. Then, I looked back over the past 5 years to see just how bad it has always been. Here is what I found.

It started way back, when I was much nicer and let Max on the couch, when I didn’t realize just how much he was taking advantage of that bougie life.

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“If comfort is an art, call me Claws Maxet. For I will certainly leave my impression in this landscape.”

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“A little privacy please. Jeez dad.”

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“Heads…

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…Or tails. Either way you toss it is a win for me.”

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“Don’t hate. If it works, it works. And this right here works.”

Then, I realized his behavior was bleeding over to sleepovers with his friends, and with blankets that were probably not his.

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“Hey, I let him have the bones so I could have the blanket! Ok, now I want the bones too.”

Then, we got a new resident at our house, who also was partial to blankets. That shook things up, but not for too long.

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“What’s this baby doing on this blanket!?”

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“Ok, ok, I will share…for now…”

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“Ha ha ha. Victory is mine. I am still king of blankets!”

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“And now I extend my reign. You leave dirty clothes and towels on the floor? They are now my blankets.”

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“This pillow will make a fine addition to my blanket collection.”

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“I know…It’s not a blanket, but I claim it. It is flat and soft and close enough.”

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“Leg is the new blanket.”

What can I say? This dog likes blankets. And that doesn’t even count the one I specifically laid out for him in our bedroom that he now uses almost every night, or many others of which I did not get a picture.

Thank you Max for enjoying the comforts of life and for reminding me of the value of a good, trusty blanket.

Companion – a hopeful post

It’s been a rough week with too many tragedies on every level – local, national, worldwide.

And again I find it hard not to despair. I find it hard to hold on to any hope that life and peace and joy will win out in the day to day workings of the world.

Then I come home and am greeted by the embodiment of life and peace and joy. Max is with me and comforts me.

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He doesn’t say anything to me or do anything for me. He is just present, and that does more for my consolation than anything else.

I tend to prefer to be alone, especially when dealing with difficult things. In fact, it was a little over a year ago when I was especially depressed and sought the solace of solitude. While there was some healing in that solitude, I found it all too easy to be sucked back into the despair that things would never get better, that joy had been defeated.

Then, while crumpled on the ground in my room, Max came barging in. He sat with me. He probably tried to sit on me too, but at least he was near. That’s all he did and somehow it began to break my tight grip on my despair. His presence did not bring me to a joyful state, but it gave me something else to hold onto.

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Rather than my own self-loathing and confusion, I was able to take hold of another and to know that he is there with me, no matter what.

Rather than fix my problems (something he clearly couldn’t do, not because he is a dog, but rather because no one could), he gave me hope. He gave me assurance that whatever the situation, there are others who walk beside me, through the pain and into renewal.

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I wish I wasn’t reminded of this time in my life so often, but I am ever grateful for Max’s presence at that time. And I am grateful that he taught me this important way hope is manifest in our difficult lives and tragic world.

Max taught me that healing starts with cleaning the dirt out of the wound, not with stitching it up. He taught me that hope is not a realization of fullness of joy, but rather a letting go of despair.

And Max taught me to be with others. In these tragic times my soul will not be easily or quickly repaired, but by encountering the loving presence of others it will be cleansed of the filth that infects it with despondent anguish. My soul is embraced by the presence of communal love and support and thus does not fall to pieces.

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Max’s companionship gives me the strength and courage to stand and face the pain and sadness and not be pulled under by it. Max taught me that neither I nor anyone is alone in this.

So thank you Max for being a loving companion, especially in the difficult times in this life. Thank you for showing me that hope is no less than a warm, fuzzy hug.