She Was A Runner

31 Jan 2021

She was a runner. That’s why she showed up at a particular house in the piney woods of East Texas. I don’t know what she was running from, where she was running to, or how far she’d come. They didn’t know either–the folks whose home she chose–when they saw me at church the next morn. They described her as a little black Scottie.

We thought, at the time, she was probably dumped, something that sometimes happens to unwanted pets in the country. They made calls to the neighbors, but no owner was found.

Knowing this “Scottie” needed a home, I called a few friends back in Colorado trying to convince them they needed a dog. No one bit, and I, of course, ended up bringing her home.

But we hadn’t gone far when I stopped to have a swim at a gym. And guess who darted out of the car and started running? A nice woman in the parking lot helped me capture the slippery canine and she told me the truth. Your dogs is such a cute “Cairn!” I asked, so that’s what she is? To which she said, yes!

Probably the most famous Cairn Terrier is Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Yup, she looked just like that.

With no tag on her bright, new, red collar, I obviously had to give her a name. Penne it was.

I started writing this article two months ago. I recently had to say goodbye. Penne was done and gave her energy back to the universe.

Lots of memories were made between these bookends of Penne’s life.

She was feisty until the last few months. For most of her life, Penne was an opportunist. She would slip past unsuspecting visitors if there was the slightest chance she could escape through an open door. I chased her all over my neighborhood on multiple occasions and more than once had to wait for a phone call from someone who found her and called the number on her tag.

There’s a reason why I sometimes called her Shithead. She was fast when she ran. And when I thought I had her cornered, she would look me straight in the eye and take off in the opposite direction. Sometimes I swore like a trucker.

Once she lept out of my car in a large parking lot. She ran faster than I could catch her and made her way into K-Mart. My friend Tim caught up with her inside the store, where people had been shouting, “Look at the cute little doggie!”

Penne didn’t like being surprised and bit me on multiple occasions. I have a lovely scar on my arm from a time she really nailed me. I just wanted to pick her up, but she, never one to delay a reaction, bit into my flesh. As I jerked back, the flesh tore, and I had quite a bandage for several days. Now that scar is a momento.

I think most of us are like Penne. We run. We don’t know what we’re running from or what we’re running to.

I spent most of my life chasing. If it wasn’t with my body, it was with my mind. I was always going after the next thing…another country to visit…another thing to accomplish.

Now I’m older and trying to learn to slow down and be in the moment. That’s what animals do so well, they are just are, now, in the moment. Their minds are not full of anything else. They have much to teach us about just BEING not DOING.

I’ve been studying mindfulness, a way of changing one’s thinking to be fully HERE and NOW, instead of reminiscing about the past or being anxious (or anticipatory) about the future. Oh how we make ourselves suffer, being victim to every thought and urge that comes to us.

In reality, we are who we are, and we’re not defined by our past or our thoughts. Finding our true identity is really very simple, yet we make it so hard.

Being fully present means to be fully aware of what’s going on now. That includes being mindful of thoughts, reactions and how we affect others. I am finding it’s a whole other way of living, a much better way.

There are several spiritual teachers who are helping me understand this and practice it. Father Richard Rohr has been an amazing mentor for several years. Lately, I’ve discovered Eckart Tolle. His books, The Power of Now, and A New Earth are blowing my mind. Eckart has many videos on YouTube and has appeared on several podcasts. His 10-part series with Oprah Winfrey on A New Earth is incredibly enlightening. A core theme of that series is learning how to deal with the ego, that thing that wants to run our lives. We have to wrestle it back.

I publish this musing in honor of Penne. She was quite a handful most of her life but softened in her final months. I celebrate her life and all it teaches me. Penne was a runner who mellowed in the end. It shows there is even hope for me.

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