Moment of Joy

by mantis-philes

My brother called her ‘Joy Unspeakable’ after an old Baptist hymn, learned when we were growing up. And she is Joy Unspeakable, no words, just the embodiment of all that is Joy.

Unfortunately, my brother never met her. He talked about her constantly as if he had. He wanted desperately to play ball with her; but in his fragile state her athletic 45 pounds would have turned him into a bowling pin. Now, he sees her all the time. Sometimes I think she actually sees him.

Joy was a rescue. I went to the shelter to check out another dog.  An older dog, good with cats.   But then again, not so much.  We all learned something that day. So I strolled through the maniacal din of unhappy dogs, about 25 of them, all desperate to tell me,  someone, anyone  their sad tale.    In the very last run, sat a dog, silent.  Yellow colored, short haired, beautiful cleopatra-esque markings on her face.  Looking very expectant.  At me.  Hey you, get it, I AM NOT BARKING.

I have since learned she wills everything with her eyes.

Her name was Dafney.   This dog was NOT a Dafney.  Built like a linebacker, sloping shoulders, enormous chest, almost no waist.  All muscle.  Built to run like her boxer forebears.  Wow, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Having been head feline in a multiple cat household for over 20 years, my life was about to be turned into constant canine chaos.  She does not move at walk speed. Her moves are all high speed, kangaroo like as she hops two or three stairs at a time.  When excited and wanting to play, she morphs into a Tasmanian devil.

When I brought her home, I could not call her Dafney.  I was bowled over by her joy in life,  her exuberance, her sense of adventure.  Having lived without joy, hope, or expectations for months, I was astonished to see what it looked like. A meteor of positive energy constantly questing for what’s next. I wanted that.  I wanted that back.

So, she was Joy, incarnate.  And I hoped that by naming her Joy, she would bring me some.

So, first like many new dog owners, we went to dog training.  Boy, is she smart.  Most commands, she learned the first time.  After that, I was on my own. She was more interested in what the other instructor was doing or managing her neighbors.  She became especially fond of the rottweiler princess next to us.   Glad they never tangled.  We passed the class, but more importantly, our bonding process began.

I brought her home a year ago in March.   There were valleys, many of them.  Some mine, some hers.   I was almost ready to return her to the shelter when fortuitously a cousin gave me the book, The Inside of A Dog.  It taught me as much about myself as it did about her.  To make her successful I had to look inward; I had to find some inner calm so my presence would communicate calm to her.  Unbelievably hard at this stage of my life.  But I had lassoed her into my life, not the other way around.  It was up to me to manage some control of myself, so she could better control herself.  I learned about ‘mean face’.  A few simple changes to the look on my face can drastically change her.  Devastated by a single well placed frown.

I’ve also learned that being a rescue is a matter of opinion.  Should Joy be able to speak, I am sure she would indicate she had pointed out the merely obvious to me.  I needed her.  I needed to be rescued.  I needed 45 pounds of loving, torpedo-like muscle to pull me by the leash back away from the edge.  We’re still moving, and she hasn’t let go.  Held by a thread, looking like a leash.

To those not making the cut, she must be addressed by her formal name, Princess Joy Wiggles.  And wiggle she does, like a worm boring its way into my deadened heart muscle.  So inextricably bound, to try and remove her would leave me terminally compromised.  She is the Cerberus to my soul, my heart. She is my Joy.

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