My Dog … My Guru?
by Milissa Castanza Seymour – Bethpage, NY

lotus bud

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
~Anatole France

A little white dog ran into a stall so fast he climbed onto my lap, reaching up to cover my face with kisses. He had a funny run like an animated reindeer in the 1960’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

His tongue hung out of the side of his mouth looking silly and sweet. His black nose and big black eyes dotted his little face, completing his unique vibe. He came home with us that day along with his side-kick, a black and white little girl. We named him Bear. I had three dogs. Now, I have two. They’ve all taught me many things but this is about Bear.

Why write about critters that keep us company for the short span of their gloriously loving lives? In this case, because of the brilliance of a masterful teacher disguised as a little dog. My little guru ran, played and smiled. In fact, his little face and eyes smiled all day long and it was infectious. Watching him run with his stiff little legs, floppy tongue, and smiling eyes had no limits. His joyful prance and light-hearted antics brought a constant lightness of being, filling the room with a most welcome contagion of mindful bliss. In those moments, time stood still and nothing intruded. When he started having tremors, he stayed present, bringing my care into his space. He drew love to him like a moth to light. His side-kick groomed and snuggled him daily. I placed my hands on him to move his energy when he began having trouble walking. He walked again but never regained his ability to do stairs. In true guru-style, he made sure I slowed my pace and began paying better attention. I carried him up and down stairs outside to his dog pen. Then, I sat on the stairs waiting for him. I took in the sun, the cold, the rain, the snow. I meditated in the fresh air. I watched mindfully as he sniffed the dandelions and licked the big oak tree. As the seasons changed, I watched him walk in his own special way on the pebbly ground. He crunched through leaves, trudged through snow, dodged rain, and warmed in the sun. Every moment felt like a delicious pause of reality, permission to just be with no anticipation or remorse. How can a little, silly, furry boy have such power to stop time and bestow joy?

In his last years, he wore diapers, needed special food, and couldn’t jump up onto his favorite spots where he would sit and stare at me. But that didn’t stop him. Wherever he was, I could feel his gentle gaze, his love palpable by his mere presence. It was impossible not to feel loved and present in his gaze. His little size didn’t limit his powers and neither did his disabilities. Through diaper changes, preparing special food, eventually feeding him by hand, carrying him in and out and up and down stairs, I became more and more present, grounded, and peaceful. What a surprise that a silly, joyful little critter could bestow the gift of mindfulness and grounded being to a grown adult woman who didn’t always practice what she preached! The doing became being. The being became more and more accessible.

His time was too short. My simple human heart couldn’t bare the strain of leaving the present to anticipate the worst. So again, his precious little face with the smiling eyes, brought me back to him again and again. We sat every night together and had our time. I cradled him like a baby and sang songs to him. I looked into his big black eyes and told him the story of his life, how we met and how it was love at first sight. I felt his skinny little body in his blue fleecey relax against my body. We were together, present in the moment as we sat and I regaled him with tales of love, joy and happiness. I needed him to know the absolute treasure he was for the 13½ years we shared.

That’s the story of my furry little disabled guru that taught me how to slow down in the most real way, without theories, teachings, or best laid plans. So, the lessons come when least expected, beyond seeking, outside of books and organized practices. They come when we take our yoga off the mat. “Stop and smell the roses”, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, “Savor the good”, “Find the beauty in the world” took on whole new meanings in the context of loving a small, silly, smiling-eyed white dog named Bear. He has forever changed me in the best possible way and for that I am immensely grateful.

Milissa Castanza Seymour M.S. is an InnerSoul Coach, professional Numerologist, and Transformational coach specializing in Stress Management and helping clients find life purpose. Her professional certifications include: Prana Yoga/IntegrativeYogaTherapy Holistic Health Educator, Applied Positive Psychology LifeCoach, Aromatherapist, Chopra Ayurvedic Health Practitioner/ Primordial Sound Meditation Teacher/ Well-being Coach.




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