I was surprised this week to realize several things. The first is that it’s November already. That was a bit of a rude awakening, considering how wonderful this summer was. I admit, I’m not quite ready to let it go, and Mother Nature seems to be holding on, too, with some truly lovely weather that doesn’t seem like it belongs in Autumn. The arrival of November also brings a couple of birthdays to our house.
Yesterday was Morgan’s seventh birthday. I knew it was her birthday in one sense, but I couldn’t process that it was already November in my head, if that makes sense. There are shared birthday festivities planned for this weekend when we have more time, and Morgan won’t care. She’ll just be happy to be extra spoiled. The part that’s the hardest for me to believe, though, is that she’s now seven years old. When we brought her home, she was just eighteen months old and so different from the dog she is now. As the years fly by, she becomes a very different dog, but we still love her deeply.
Reflecting on her birthday is bittersweet. Her early years were full of upheaval. I wouldn’t say that she was abused, but moving from home to home in her early months wasn’t an ideal situation for any dog, especially a German Shepherd who bonds intensely with their family. I can still remember the day we brought an eighteen month old Morgan home and how she never looked back, only forward.
I made promises to her, and to myself, that we would be the last home she ever went to. We still struggle with what to do with her, but a few things that have happened this year have made me realize that this will have to be the last home she lives in. For one thing, I wouldn’t pass her problems on to anyone else for fear of what would happen. We have learned that we can never let our guard down with her or trust her in certain situations. I can’t be sure that anyone else would be that vigilant. The other is that we tried leaving her in what we felt was the ideal situation for her while we traveled to Nashville. She was with people very experienced with German Shepherds and they couldn’t get near her. She was in a climate controlled kennel with access to an outside yard where she could play and go potty, but she couldn’t handle it. By all reports, she was miserable and I felt horrible, even though I knew we’d done the best thing for all involved.
The thing about Morgan, though, is that she continues to remind me to be kind to myself. Even the parts of me that I feel are unlovable have value. Morgan is intensely reactive and it’s frustrating to deal with. Yet, it comes from a place of love. She fears losing us more than anything else, and I wish I had a way to reassure her that it’s not something she needs to concern herself with.
Morgan embraces her crazy and uses it to her advantage as much as she can. She channels it into much of what she does, whether it’s patrolling the yard for kamikaze rabbits, working dog obedience with Mr. Taleteller, playing with her favorite toys or keeping an eye on the neighborhood during her early morning or late evening walks. There’s an intensity to her that I haven’t seen in any other dog we’ve ever shared our lives with.
She’s taught me to be more patient and persistent. If there’s something you feel is worth having, it’s worth going all out for. If you care for someone, you should let them know, not hide it out of fear that it won’t be reciprocated or appreciated. Things that are difficult are worth the work required to acquire them. Life is sweeter when you savor the small moments as intently as the big ones.
We still face a lot of struggles with her, but we have been so lucky to have Morgan here with us for the past five years. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I know that now is the time to celebrate the unexpected gifts that sometimes find their ways into our lives. What we would like to ask of you today as we celebrate Morgan’s seven year milestone is that you take the time to tell someone you care about how you feel, dance in the rain, do something that scares you or find some other way to embrace life that makes you happy.
Happy Birthday, Mo! You’ve made the journey so much more interesting and we’re lucky to have you!