Thursday, April 25, 2013

love.this.book. -- you had me at woof: how dogs taught me the secrets of happiness

Truth 1:  I love dogs.

Truth 2:  I love to read.

I bet you didn't know this things about me...

Fostering Maizy has changed something inside me.  It's like a flip has been switched.  I've gone from loving my little Opie, loving dogs in general and thinking they are wonderful to being OBSESSED with dogs and happily accepting a possible fate of being single for the rest of my life so long as I can be surrounded by dogs.  I don't just love dogs and have the occasional "aww... I wish I could have that dog.  It's sooooo cute" anymore.  When I see a dog, my mind flips to "What do I have to do to have you?"

I'm not ashamed of this.  In fact, I have accepted it as a passion.  Recently, my dear brother-friends Joel and Nathan and I had a conversation about passion.  Joel and I were unsure that what we were doing, what we were going to school for, was really our passion.  What does having a passion mean?  If your passion is your work, will you lose your love for your work eventually?  Is it bad not to have a passion?  Does having or not having a passion affect your happiness?  Does having a passion make life more meaningful?

Like many conversations with Joel and Nathan, this one went nowhere.  Not because of the company, but because of the topic.  We often find ourselves talking through unsolvable issues.  Our conversations are like puzzles that paint an ugly picture and we pull it apart to scrutinize the pieces, wondering how we can put the pieces back together so that the picture is prettier.  In the end, we put the puzzle back to its original state.  Unfortunately, I left the conversation feeling very down on myself and upset.  I felt like I was going to ruin my life continuing my current course of life.  I walked away with the feeling that my life would be meaningless unless I had a passion and that because I currently had no passion, my life was pretty much meaningless.

Of course, my life is not meaningless.  I don't believe that, but this was my thought process.

Talent.  Talent is another thing I have concern over.  I don't feel like a talented person.  When I think of talent, I think of something extraordinary... and I know talents aren't necessarily so.  But even at the most basic of levels I feel relatively without talent.  As I write this, I'm unsure as to what a talent really is to begin with.

Okay, so Maizy changed something in me.  A few weeks ago I found myself at the library and I just started pulling memoirs about dogs, life with dogs, owners and their dogs... I didn't know why and I honestly wasn't sure that I would even read these books, but I started to and I realized what I was looking for.  I was looking to connect with others who have been as affected by dogs as I have.  People who have thought about being a "doggie parent" as much as I have.  People who wonder how they ever lived without Sparky or Spot.

This particular book, You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam, really hit me.  It hit me hard.  I'm new to this whole foster thing and reading about Julie's experiences in fostering really got to me.  I wanted those experiences, good or bad.  I wanted those stories, funny or not.

With the turn of each page, I realized that I had identified my passion.

Dog rescue.

There are very few books (or movies) that make me cry.  I cried while watching Bridge to Terabithia and I had to watch Marley & Me with a box of tissues on my lap.  I cried when Harry Potter "died" (in the movie, not sure if I did reading the book).  50/50 did make me cry too... but watching a movie about cancer after my mom had just battled breast cancer probably wasn't the best idea.

This book made me cry.  Julie's words resonated with me.  I felt everything she was feeling because I knew. My heart knew what her heart knew.  I had to give it 5 stars on Goodreads.

I know I've mentioned fostering before but I am feeling this passion like I've never felt it before.  I want to devote my life to helping place dogs into happy homes because I truly believe a house is not a home without a dog or two.  Happiness really is a warm puppy (no matter how old, big or small).

So I'm the dog lady and will continue to be so.  No, I don't paint my dogs' nails and I don't feed them people food, and though they do have a few t-shirts, they do not have their own wardrobe.  But I love the crap out of 'em.  And there's enough love to go around.

Julie Klam showed me that being a "dog lady" doesn't have to be a weird obsession or a hoarding issue... being a "dog lady" is a noble calling, one that can and will change your life for the better.



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