These notes are prompted in part by my granddaughter Norah wondering about why "water was leaking from my eyes" while we were in a great state of uncertainty about recovering our beloved dog Choie. Some of you might think in some way that this is really a "First World problem" of a fairly middle-class guy fretting over the loss of his, of all breeds, Shih Tzu.In the past, this breed represented, especially in Chinese culture, a certain decadence and royalty, along with the tendency to suppress that came with it. In fact, for that reason they were killed in large numbers when the royal houses of China fell. On the other hand, the relationships we develop over time with our animal friends is not to be trivialized, and is deeply personal in nature. Deeply personal things are the things that often matter the most.
I found myself doing quite a bit of "leaking from my eyes" during the last day and a half. The thing I noticed, though, as I was struggling with my emotions was my tendency to mistrust and expect the worst. When I walk our dogs, drivers would frequently slow down and say, "Hey, cute dogs, you want to sell one?" Sell one?! What? No! But compliment acknowledged.
When we lost Choie, I had no doubt someone had stolen her. Paula took the position, after it was clear Choie was not wandering the streets, that she was "rescued," not stolen. I could not shake the notion from my head that she was indeed stolen, and for the last 36 hours or so I was reacting as if I would not see her again, ever. That is what people do, they steal. They lie, they cheat, then they steal.
Paula held out hope, networked via social media and went about her business. I endlessly yelled for Choie while jogging repeatedly around the block and, later, on my bike for hours. We went door to door in the neighborhood, grandkids in tow. Although I expected the worst, I was going to relentlessly, single-mindedly, completely pursue her recovery until I dropped.
I gave flyers with her picture to cops eating lunch at Arby's. I went to every gas station, pet store, dog pound, and public square I could with 50 copies of flyers of Choie in my hands just to start.
Paula continued to network. In the end, Choie was indeed rescued by some nice people we never knew, who actually wanted the owners to recover their dog. I was actually shocked. I was anticipating some person would find a pretty purebred dog and just run. Probably to Texas. And then force Choie into slave labor.
I might think this way for a variety of reasons, and, of course, these reflections seem to be typical of psychologists (yeah, I am one of those), who at times love to analyze things to death. Maybe I am doing that, too. Hey, I know the difference between human beings and pets.
I also know the emotions invested in any living creature, and the relationships we have with them, are precious and powerful. I know that faith is not only a belief in things unseen, things that cannot be processed with the five senses; it is also an attitude that things will in fact, turn out, in the end, for the best.
This may not translate into things turning out exactly as you want them. This is something I am still learning. I have a lot to learn. About everything. Keep the faith out there.
This blog was written by George Munkachy, a committed Catholic and psychologist who lives in the Montgomery, Alabama, area.