Rain. We dash through sudden, unexpected rain storms, hoods up, holding books or papers over our heads, trying to avoid getting wet. We tote umbrellas around on rainy days and grumble about the puddles. Some of our dogs outright refuse to go outside and potty in the rain. (and some of us have to go out with them to convince them….sometimes holding umbrellas for them….you know who you are!)
But what if you had never felt raindrops falling on your face? What if, for years, you had heard rain pounding on the roof, pattering in puddles outside, but had never seen or felt it? This is the life of many puppy mill dogs: huddled for years in their stifling cages, breathing suffocating air, while cool, refreshing raindrops fall outside… What a miracle it must be for them to experience rain for the first time.
I don’t know what Kira’s experience was, whether she was always caged indoors or if she was kept in an outside pen at times in her life, but I love watching her in the rain! Last week we were sitting on the back porch during a spring shower.
When the rain started, she looked curiously at the spots appearing around her on the cement and at her feet that were getting wet. She raised her nose and sniffed the breeze. When the rain began falling harder she got up and I assumed she was going back under the steps to be dry, but she didn’t. She ran out into the rain and just stood there blinking her eyes and wagging her tail. She raised her muzzle to the sky and let the raindrops fall on her face. It was so beautiful.
She stood with her head raised for a few moments and then she began to run, full speed, around the yard in the rain until she was absolutely drenched. She came and stood in front me on the porch, panting happily, a soaking wet fuzzy face, eyes shining, and I thought, “She is having fun!” Kira. Fun. Who ever would have imagined?! The other two dogs looked at her like she had lost her mind. Neither of them likes being wet. So here was my puppy mill dog playing by herself in the rain while my “normal” dogs sat by the door and waited to go inside. Life is weird sometimes….
One of the things that I cherish most about living with Kira is the way she experiences mundane, everyday things as miraculous. Drops of water falling from the sky. A soft, safe place to lay your head. Food, every day. Friends. Stuffed ducks. Her wonder makes me remember how amazing the world really is. She literally stops to smell the flowers… every single flower. She watches ants and tilts her head with interest. Sometimes she paws back the outside rug so she can see where the ants are going when they go under it. And after everything she does, she looks up at me with this wonderful expression like, “Mom, have you SEEN this? Can you BELIEVE this?!”
Sometimes watching Kira is like watching a big, very cautious puppy learning about the world for the first time. She is often surprised and delighted. Sometimes concerned, but endlessly curious nonetheless. When she was first rescued she was literally paralyzed with fear, completely catatonic. Her foster family said that when they first saw her, she stayed so motionless that it was hard to even tell if she was alive. She remained in that totally shut down mental state for months. There was no joy in her world. No light in her eyes. No sense that life was interesting, or fun, or happy. No sign of hope.
I think that it is because of those very dark years, that these days, everything is a miracle for Kira. It is all a wondrous discovery. Each day is an adventure that she can’t wait to wake up to. It’s like she just can’t believe how good it all turned out to be.
All of that was captured in one beautiful moment this week:
The joy and wonder of a collie standing in the rain, with her face turned up to the sky.
If dogs could offer prayers, this one would.
And I think her first prayer would be,
“What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.