Thursday, May 16, 2019

Quality of Life Reviewed

How Finn and I View Quality of Life
I have been thinking a lot lately about quality of life—in particular, how you help others live it a few moments at a time.  When you are training a therapy dog for this work, it's natural to reflect on what makes a life more joyous and pleasurable.

I care about both sides of the equation—what brings light into the lives of those whom we visit and what switches it on for the light-bearers.  I am deeply committed to keeping Finn's light shining brightly in ways that take into consideration his overall health, happiness, and well-being.

These days, I find myself spending differently.  It may seem to those who see Finn being carted around in a new dog stroller or trailer that he is being coddled.  In fact, strangers who cross our path often remark that my dog is spoiled.

Finn Teaches Me To Pay Attention To Everything
Isn't that a funny word—spoiled—especially when applied to an animal who previously had almost nothing and who experienced so few, if any, of a dog's normal pleasures?  Those who know Finn, and the way we are forging a life together where his disabilities do not define or limit him, would never use the word spoiled to describe him.  After all, this is a dog who willingly engages in a ministry of caring that requires so much of him.

The things I provide for Finn are not what they seem.  Outwardly, they are mobility devices: things that allow for transport from Point A to Point B.  Far beyond that, his stroller, K9 Cart (wheelchair), and bicycle trailer are really transformers.

When we seek to lift up the voiceless, whether it be a stroke victim, or a rescue animal, perhaps the best we can do is pay deep attention to the nuances, to the glimmers of how they show us what brings them even temporary pleasure.  Mary Oliver, in her typical eloquence, expressed that attention is the beginning of devotion.

As for Finn, he demonstrates to me on a daily basis that his quality of life is wrapped up in mine.  Wherever I am, that is where he wants to be.  I feel the same way.  I hate to be separated from Finn for even an hour of the day.  Without the devices that minimize his physical limitations, and that maximize his strengths, we would have to be apart far more than either of us desires.

Living Large Along the Rio Grande
Our togetherness—our connectedness—is greatly enhanced by the things that allow our energies to be focused on living fully.  As we rode together along the Rio Grande yesterday, Finn and I were totally immersed in living undivided (ala Parker Palmer).  We were being for ourselves what we intend to be for others.

When I first purchased Finn's bicycle trailer, I promised to share more after we had had the opportunity to take it for a spin.  Here is the link to that initial post: 2-in-1 Dog Trailer.  I realize this is not a typical follow-up review.  I'm not trying to convince anyone to buy anything.

As I started writing today's post, and let my heart lead the way, what moved me were the intangibles.  In essence, this trailer represents more than the sum of its parts (or any features I might choose to extol).  It is freedom, it is exhilaration, it is movement in the direction of our dreams.

How we choose to spend our time and money is deeply personal.  Perhaps the most important thing is how we use what we have to offer up a simple, pure devotion.  We don't have to buy anything to do that, but sometimes there is great pleasure to be known in acquiring that which has the capacity to transform the moments that make another's life worth living.

Quality of life is different for each of us.  We can't define what that is for someone else, but we can divine what that is through our deep presence and the cultivation of a listening heart and spirit.  For Finn and I, immersing ourselves in nature is the way we cultivate a spirit of healing.  The beauty is that that spirit can spill over from one life to another.

It is always about beginning and becoming.  As we roll together along new pathways, this therapy dog team is discovering what it means to live and love wholeheartedly.  And, for us, that is true quality of life.








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16 comments:

  1. What a wonderful and profound message. Listening and understanding what brings a better quality of life to both animals and humans is so important. Equally important is not to judge

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    1. Thank you, Mary Beth. Deep listening, with understanding, is something we can all offer no matter our circumstances. It is perhaps the greatest gift because it is full of grace.

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  2. Wow Diana, I think I started to learn that lesson when we spent time at the homeless shelters as part of our vocation training. It is amazing what people think are important, power, prestige, money, looks etc. when what really is important is being in AWE of our lives, our surroundings, our health and our connection to others and the world around us. Very important lessons for sure. And I just love Finn too!

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    1. I love what you are saying here about awe. We are given so many powerful opportunities to fill ourselves with awe each and every day. May we never take for granted the breath-taking aspects of life. And may we be grateful for all that we have been given. I'm sure you both made lasting and beautiful connections with the homeless. I am also learning much from that community as they frequently cross paths and interact with Finn and I.

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  3. You and Finn are such an inspiration! You give of yourself so selflessly. We should all consider the quality of our lives, and perhaps reconsider how we spend our time and money. I am sorry that people make comments about Finn being spoiled. They simply have no idea and speak out of ignorance. I guess they give you both an opportunity to extend forgiveness, which I know you do willing.

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  4. Thank you, Mouse. Finn sure does inspire me to be the best possible version of myself. I try to learn from the comments made by people who perhaps have never experienced the kind of relationships I have with rescue animals. I want them to thrive, just as I make it a priority to help people find their thrive.

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  5. A very beautiful post, with lots for all of us to think about.

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    1. Thank you. It is always my hope that the message resonates with someone.

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  6. I'm glad you and Finn have each other to be able to thrive!

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    1. We are blessed to have found one another. Dogs really live in the moment, which is something we humans need to learn how to do in order to thrive. I love having Finn as my master teacher.

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  7. You share your thoughts and yourself so wonderfully, Diana. You and Finn make a very special team and are changing your world one person & rescue animal at a time. Together you two are enhancing the quality of life of so many you interact with.

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  8. I appreciate your affirming words, Elf. Thank you for lifting us up and seeing in us what we aspire to do and be.

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  9. It's amazing to me that some people feel entitled to offer critical opinions with no basis in fact. What possible benefit could there be in telling they think Finn is spoiled? And what does "spoiled" mean anyway in the context of how we try to make the lives of another soul more comfortable, more fulfilling, more joyful? You and Finn have rescued each other in ways more profound than most people might be able to understand. And you share your love, light and grace with others and write about it so beautifully. Reading your words always nourishes my soul. Much love to you and Finn.

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    1. Your beautiful comments made my eyes "leak." Thank you for always supporting me and my pack in such loving ways.

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  10. Eloquently said. This brings back memories of years ago (before there were dog assist devices on the market), as my now rainbow dog aged with health and mobility issues, we had a diy dog stroller so we could start off walking (with as long as the dog could walk) and then the remainder of the ride she was in the stroller. We did generate a few looks and comments - each walk was a special time of freedom. I'm thankful so many more assist devices are available now.

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  11. I do the same thing with Finn. He gets to make a go of it until he runs out of steam. Then, I put him in either the dog stroller or the K9 Cart. Like you, I am so thankful special needs animals have options now. Back in the day, a dog like Finn might have been euthanized (and even still in this day and age). Now, I look forward to celebrating every single day that Finn and I can share his newfound freedom. It is a special time for us, just as you shared about your special moments with your beloved rainbow girl.

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