Riley is a 3 year old, 60 pound mix, I rescued him, or he rescued me, just over a year ago. He is often described as hyper, out of control, crazy, rude, and many many other colorful words that I won’t use here. He is also cuddly, sweet, loving, curious, energetic, extremely happy, intelligent, willing to learn, and quick to forgive. Let’s hope we can all live with the mindfulness of a dog.
The first day I brought him home, he ran into my house and decided to urinate on my ottoman and on my wall. He chased my cat and knocked over a plant. He then proceeded to jump from the floor up onto my head; scratching my face, arms and shoulders.
I fell to the floor and he ran into the other room a grab a pillow. As I sat in the hallway, bleeding, crying and watching him tear up my pillow with glee, I knew I was beat. I thought, “what did I do? This is not a dog, this is a beast.”
As we sat there watching him with that pillow, I noticed he was so happy. Stuffing flying everywhere, his tail wagging, shreds of what was my pillow being thrown aside, I swear he was laughing. I thought to myself, he is not thinking about the destruction he caused in my home. He is not thinking about being in a new house with new people. He is not thinking about where he came from or what has happened to him in the past. All he is thinking right in this moment is how much fun he is having.
Riley has a long ugly scar down his back. No one knows how it got there. When he first came to me, he did not like his back touched at all. Over time he has learned that he can trust people and he now allows people to pet him. It’s hard to think about what may have happened to him. The shelter said he was a stray and they did not think he ever had a “real” home.
On the rare times when he is quietly laying all cuddled up on my lap, I think about how sad it is that this sweet boy didn’t have a home. But when he is sleeping he is wagging his tail and smiling, so I’m pretty sure his dreams are good now and he’s not living in the past.
When I watch Riley being Riley, he is living in the moment. He is excited to meet people, other animals, and play outside. He is still learning social boundaries and doesn’t always understand why he can’t jump on someone’s head or lay on their shoulders to take a nap. The point is, he is willing to learn and to move forward despite the odds that were against him.
Riley has scars on the outside and likely he has some on the inside as well. Just like most of us. Due to past situations, family dynamics, traumatic pasts we all have scars; some scars we show and some we don’t. Moving through life does not mean that we ignore what has happened to us.
It means that we recognize that the paid is there; however, we do not let it run our lives. We live in our present moment, taking each moment as it comes. Within the chaos of life, we find joy and happiness in the moments. So when our house, family, environment seems to be a mess, we find a pillow to tear up and laugh in the moment.
If you need help emulating Riley’s attitude, connect with Perspectives Therapy Services.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.