I can't describe to you the feeling that takes over in my heart, when I have one hand under my soulmate dogs sweet little chin, while staring deeply into his eyes with the most profound love and adoration.
It's sickening right?
I know, I know...
Before you deem me another crazy dog person, or start judging me for treating my dog like my human child (it's true, I'll own it!)...this post isn't actually about my dog...
Well it kind of is...
But rather, it's a little story for you about why my heart throbs so deeply for this particular dog, and how when, technically, I rescued him....he actually rescued me.
I can't remember what year it was but I was most likely between the ages of 9-12 and I was at summer camp, like I was every year, and I was on one of those ten day adventures where we actually left the camp, and went off on an excursion of biking, hiking and canoe-ing.
Best memories of my life right here.
So on this one particular day, there were about 13 of us and we were biking around these back woods in the mountain region of New Hampshire (think Ossipee area)...
I was the first in line, as I often was, and we were soaring down this long slightly curved downhill stretch, the sound of crickets whizzing by, not a car in sight.
We were in the sticks.
As I came around a corner, it all happened super quick. As soon as I saw the decrepit trailer that literally looked like it was about to disintegrate into a million pieces, and before I even saw the old man who looked like a character from Lord of the Rings who was wearing straight up denim overalls and I could have sworn, had a piece of wheat dangling out of his mouth...before I even saw all of that, he saw me.
And by "he", I don't mean the old man.
I mean the almost 100 pound Rottweiler that was loose in the front yard and had all these spiky chains around his neck.
In three seconds, he was on me.
I don't remember much except that I was TERRIFIED.
And completely confused because even though I was being attacked by what appeared to be an extremely pissed off Rottweiler, the old man was yelling at ME.
I felt like it was me and this dog for hours, although it was probably only ten seconds.
I was so scared and I remember wondering what on earth was taking the 12 people I was with so long to come help me. While also wondering what in hell was wrong with this old man that he wasn't jumping in to help.
I honestly thought I was going to lose my leg.
Within what felt like FOREVER, everyone I was with was on top of me, and the dog was off.
I was shaking and crying.
I was bleeding.
I was so confused.
I got super lucky that day.
Yes I needed to go to the hospital and get fixed up and get shots and all of that.
And I was sent back to camp to recover and wasn't allowed on the rest of he adventure, which was a HUGE disappointment.
But it could have been so much worse.
That dog could have killed me.
And he didn't even leave a scar.
Well, physically anyways.
That day haunted me for a really long time.
I always grew up with cats. Always. The only experience I had ever had with a dog was my aunts dog, Bear, who was this beautiful mix of I don't even know what, who was HER soulmate dog, and was her assistant as well, as she was a dog trainer in Dallas the whole time she had him.
I loved Bear but was always a little afraid of him, especially after the day he snapped at me for petting him too hard.
So, yeah....not a dog person.
When I was 21 years old, I subletted a room from a guy with a pitbull named Bonnie (I'm sure some of you reading this remember sweet Bonnie girl)...
I was terrified of her from the get go as well. But Even though Bonnie was Bonnie and had her own little style of sass, her and I quickly bonded and so began my healing process with dogs.
In the years that followed, I became a dog LOVER. I would dog sit and dog walk for all of my friends dogs, always looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with them, and look after them.
However, this whole time I had still never even gotten CLOSE to another Rottweiler.
It was easy to avoid honestly. Where I lived in California, there just weren't many Rotties around. And if I ever did see one, I would get as far away from them as possible.
So fast forward a decade and now it's 2016 and I start volunteering at Austin Pets Alive and I'm getting to meet and spend time with all these different dogs from all different backgrounds and all different breeds.
You know there's gonna be at least one Rottweiler in the bunch right?
The whole first six months I was at APA, there were maybe three Rottweilers at the shelter.
Ok truth be told, I wouldn't even walk by their kennels. Like, terrified, makes me freeze up, can't even look at them scared.
And I could get away with it, because with our collar system at APA, I wasn't yet qualified to walk them anyways.
But I always brought this sense of fear and apprehension with me to the shelter, because I was getting closer and closer to my fear, everyday that I was there.
A lot of you have heard this story already, and it's worth retelling over and over.
There was a day, a beautiful Sunday morning, where I met my friend Melissa (also a volunteer) at the shelter to do a little refresher course, since I hadn't been in to walk dogs in a hot minute.
We also, at that time, had had the first (during my time there) Rottweiler in my collar level, which now that I think of it, could explain a little bit of my absence in the weeks leading up to this.
There was no way in hell I was walking that dog.
Or even approaching his kennel.
So Melissa and I did our thing, we took out a couple of dogs, and chatted and got me reacquainted.
And then she asked me if I had met Shadow yet.
You see, I hadn't TOLD anyone about my death grip fear of Rottweilers because honestly I was a little embarrassed about it.
And I had managed to be able to avoid it until now.
So without going into detail, I told Melissa that honestly, I was a little afraid of him as Rotties "freak me out."
"Oh I understand," she said, "but this guy is something special."
I agreed to meet him in a play yard.
I know it's sounds ridiculous but anyone who has ever stared fear right in the face and understand this reaction.
I. Was. Shaking.
I could feel the rush of adrenaline in my body and the hair standing up on my neck.
Yet I knew that I trusted Melissa fully, and if there was ever a time to face this fear, well, the Universe was handing it to me on a silver platter.
So I made my way to a play pen and waited for her to join me. I sat in a chair and decided that all I could do was just stay in the chair and stay as still as possible, and to just breathe.
When she walked in with Shadow, I expected to see that same look in his eye that I had seen fifteen years ago. That look of power, of raw animalistic drive.
But instead I saw a beat up guy who was having a really rough run.
He lumbered into the play yard, all bones sticking out at every angle.
He looked so tired.
To be clear, I was still extremely terrified.
But I was determined to put all of my trust into this situation, and keep my ass firmly planted in that plastic chair, no matter what.
After about a full minute of wandering around the play yard and avoiding me, he started to walk over.
Now Shadow is by no means, a full blown Rottweiler. I personally think he's half deer with his dainty prance and his skinny little ankles, but his look is intimidating for anyone who feels even slightly iffy around Rotties.
He walked right up to me, and he put his face into my lap, and he just stared up at me.
It was the craziest experience to have the very thing that I had been so terrified of, for so many years, in my lap.
What was crazy about it was that in that moment, I felt this insane sense of connection that I have a hard time putting words to.
Almost as if we had both been on a journey to this exact moment. He knew it. I knew it.
I didn't see that primal, raw, fierceness that I was so afraid of.
I saw a sweet, gentle soul, who was sad and tired and confused.
I related so much to him.
It was like he was putting his head in my lap and saying hey, I see you. I feel you, because I am you.
Because at the time, I was sad and tired and confused as well.
The crazy part about all of it is that once I faced the fear, and I allowed this gentle giant to put his head in my lap and look at me, eye to eye, and once I felt not only how safe I was, but actually what was available to me through this connection with this animal, the fear immediately dissipated.
It was like fifteen years of fear was just, poof! Gone.
I share this today to actually make a point about fear.
My world has literally transformed since that day I met Shadow in the shelter.
In the days and weeks that followed, I found myself walking to the shelter every day so I could spend time with him, then bringing him home for sleepovers, which led to fostering him, and then eventually adopting him.
I have learned so much about love.
I have healed so many parts of my heart that were shut down after my mom passed away.
I have literally found my #soulmatedog
And if I had continued to let fear rule me, I never would have even known that he was RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE, that entire time.
You see, everything you desire, is already here for you.
But sometimes we can't even see it, because we are too afraid.
We let fear rule us.
Every single time I have faced my fear and gotten WAY outside my comfort zone, the very thing I was dreaming about, desiring, hoping for, praying for, giving my soul for, was right there waiting for me.
Be willing to look fear in the eye.
Be willing to go there.
Doing so could be the greatest gift you ever give yourself.
I am so grateful that I opened myself up that day. As I write this, my sweet Shadow man is lying next to me, snoring away.
He no longer has that sad, confused look in his eye.
And neither do I