Last summer I told you about Logan, my German shepherd, who had major surgery for a ruptured tendon in his knee. For four months my kitchen was his convalescent hospital, and now he has a weekly swim to rebuild muscle and a monthly laser treatment to ease arthritic pain. Though he sometimes wobbles, he prances on the lawn with his Frisbee; and I rejoice at the wonders of veterinary medicine.
Still, I wish I could stop the clock on Logan’s aging, which is most visible in his weakness and the salt emerging on his pepper muzzle. At age 11, he’s a geriatric, and I grieve at his inevitable decline. When I mentioned it last week to my friend Gloria, she said, “In the time you have left with Logan, you need to learn what he’s meant to teach you.”
What might it be? I’ve been wondering.
The lesson that keeps elbowing all others out of my mind is “courage.” When Logan stands his ground and stares at you, he’s so clearly brave that you would never think of crossing him. But he’s also brave in more subtle ways, such as gathering grit to climb the stairs to the bedroom each night, or enduring acupuncture needles whose purpose he doesn’t understand. Though Logan is not fond of swimming, he bravely walks down the ramp into the pool and paddles with the fortitude of an Olympic medalist. And he’s met adversity with courage like none I’ve ever seen.
His original family abandoned him at a kennel; because he was such an exemplary dog, the kennel owner was determined to find him the most loving home. For two years before my husband and I adopted him, Logan was incarcerated, a prisoner who’d committed no crime. After being so betrayed by his people, he could have grown snappish or sullen. But when we met him, he stood behind his barred gate looking fearless and regal, his tail wagging gently, his exquisite brown eyes shining.
He’d had no idea what his future might be; but he’d not lost heart, and he’d bravely met each day. Last summer he also bravely met the terrible pain of his injury and surgery without complaining once.
So perhaps the lesson I’m supposed to learn from Logan is to walk bravely down my path without knowing where it’s leading. To cultivate the mettle to handle whatever comes. To tuck past hurt in dark corners of my mind and live only in the present’s light with courage. Tall orders, but truly worthy ones.
I believe all our animals have much to teach us if we only open our eyes and see. What lesson is yours trying to get through to you? As you search for the answer, you might be surprised.