Monday, September 27, 2010

Pets and "The Art of Racing in the Rain"

Been awhile since I wrote my first entry to my blog.  It's been a busy time.    This retirement deal is a lot more work than I thought it would be.  I've been working out regularly though because this weekend I am competing in the first Xterra event in Kelowna.  I'll be racing in the Sport Duathlon division, which involves 2.5 km of running through the woods, 15 km of mountain biking, and another 4 km of running.  I'm ready and eager for Sunday to come.  Although the weather has been iffy for the last little while, the outlook is good for Sunday!

But I don't really want to talk about the race right now.  What I want to discuss is a book that I just finished reading.  A book written from the perspective of a dog - The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth Stein).  Enzo, an intelligent and philosophical dog, talks about his life and his role in his adopted family.  According to a documentary he had seen on the Discovery Channel, Mongolians believe that when dogs die they become human beings in their next life.  As Enzo ages, he is rather looking forward to his  passing, as his current body (in his opinion) has two severe shortcomings - no opposable thumbs, and a floppy, uncontrollable tongue that does not permit him to talk.

I personally found this book to be very powerful, not only because I like dogs, but also because the events that are encountered by Enzo's family were quite similar to some I have had to deal with along the way.  It made me revisit some largely disturbing episodes from my past, and at times I considered not completing the book because it uncovered long-hidden feelings of anger and hopelessness.  These feelings were primarily related to the legal system (lawyers and their inhumane arrogance) and how ultimately, within the scope of it, money usually wins out over what is truly fair and just.  There were a couple of times thoughts reawakened by the book prevented me from falling asleep.  Finally, after failing to fall asleep after a particularly disturbing chapter, I decided to get up and finish the dam book!  Fortunately, the book generally had a satisfying conclusion, although a bit far fetched.

This now leads me to what I REALLY want to talk about.  Pets (primarily dogs and cats).  I have 3 pets - 2 dogs (Gabriel - a 7.5 year-old chocolate lab, and Angel - a 7 year-old golden retriever) and 1 cat (Zoe - my dad encouraged me to dislike cats, but during the past few years Zoe has converted me).  I have frequently sat down with one of these genuine beasts, looked into their eyes, and contemplated the processes within their minds.  If you read my first blog installment you might recall that one of my retirement goals was to spend more time talking to my dogs  because they know what it's all about.  I guess the book kind of reinforced my beliefs regarding dogs.  They live life rather simplistically and are therefore are generally content.  They don't second guess themselves, regret what they did yesterday, or worry about what's going to happen tomorrow.  They are inherently trusting, quick to love, and quicker to forgive.  I truly feel "honoured" to have 2 dogs and a cat living in my house with me.  Yes, I have to clean up after them, sometimes they wake me up in the middle of the night, and other times they impose limitations on our actions..... but I have never wished that they were gone.

The late evening that I finally finished The Art of Racing in the Rain, I went to bed and thought about the personally painful events that the book had awakened, and also contemplated the significance of my pets.  Zoe, my cat, chose that time to silently leap up onto the bed, gently make her way onto my chest and lie down.  This is something that she often does and tonight was not an exception.  But she did something extra tonight that caught my attention.  Something she had never done before, as if she "knew".  She moved her body up a little further than usual and gently rested her head on my cheek, and there she remained.  For some reason my eyes moistened and a tear appeared.

Sometimes spontaneous, seemingly insignificant occurrences can have a major impact.  Don't dismiss them or regard them lightly cause they are what make life meaningful.

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