I fell in and out of love today…
He’s a mix of brown and black and white with short legs and wrinkles across his brow. He was hesitant as I opened the door and called to him, and when I bent down and reached out my hand, he scampered off down the sidewalk before turning back around to see if I would follow. My bare feet feeling like ice against the sidewalk, I crouched down again and waited for him to come to me.
He sniffed my hand, still uncertain of the stranger that I seemed. Then, a kiss as I scratched behind his ears and called him sweetheart.
I brought him into the house — where he promptly peed on the carpet — and watched the reactions of Riley and Mikey.
Riley’s tail wagged as they sniffed each other; Mikey glared at me (“What the hell is this?”) as the puppy chased him upstairs and then proceeded to investigate this strange new place.
I named him Bailey.
He stole my heart.
But there was someone else who’s heart must have been breaking at the thought of losing him, I thought. And I could only imagine how I would feel if Riley had been that lost little boy.
I let them out to play in the yard and took a picture to post on Facebook and Twitter; I called the local police to file a report of a missing Beagle puppy with a collar but no tags, telling him he could stay with me until his family was found rather than being sent away to a holding facility; I took him to my vet’s office to have him scanned for a microchip.
All the while, I kept smiling — funny how all it takes is sweet innocence to make that happen.
He curled up on my lap as I pressed kisses against his head, simultaneously stroking Riley’s fur to tell him it was all alright. I thought, this house was meant for love, and all the teasing about wanting another dog suddenly became very real.
My phone rang about two hours later, just as I was at the vet’s office discovering that he hadn’t been micro-chipped. They’d gotten my number from the police after they discovered their little escape artist had run away. Bailey (real name: Apollo) and I sat huddled together on the front steps of my porch as we waited for his dad to arrive from two blocks over.
The soulful, trusting eyes, the happy, friendly countenance…Here again was love in its purest form.
With a smile, my heart full of happiness at being able to reunite a family, I said goodbye.
Meeting Bailey — maybe even rescuing him, if you can call it that — couldn’t have been more apropos. I’ve always believed that where there are dogs, there is love; I’ve always believed that they are the sign that it will all be alright.
But today, it became more than that.
He was the reminder that you never know who will come into your life; he was the gift that said, “look how you love, look how you’re loved.”
This weekend, I discovered that love isn’t a fairytale. I’d been hurt and used, my kindness taken advantage of in a story I’m not quite ready to tell. Suffice it to say, I opened my heart for someone who didn’t deserve it, though I didn’t know that until the damage had been done.
I could have blamed myself — and a small part of me did, for being too trusting, for believing too much in the good in people — but instead, I found my strength, my spirit. Instead, I realized that we all have a choice in life — we can drown with the suffering of others who refuse to change or we can soar and find others who wish to fly with us.
I choose to fly.
Pretty faces can sing pretty words and make pretty promises to keep you coming back.
They can call you sweetheart and stroke your face and beg of you to trust them.
It could be so easy to be lulled back in, to give up everything you stand for as they pull you under with them. It would be so easy to become so jaded after the heartache — to see another stranger calling to you and keep running away, never knowing if they mean help or harm…
But Bailey trusted me.
And he’ll keep on loving and trusting no matter who wanders in and out of his life, and in that, in those few hours, he has taught me the greatest lesson of all…
Let yourself make mistakes: love the wrong person, feel too much, let your heart get broken. Then, let yourself say goodbye.
It’s only then that you’ll find your strength, only then that you can make room for those who love and trust and see in you something special, too.
It’s only then that you can discover how the love you hold inside of you is only a fraction of the love you deserve…
Here was a little boy lost.
Here is a little girl found.