winston_picHey Peeps!

I hope you all are doing great, and are looking forward to the Season that is the Reason to be jolly! I’m really feelin’ it this year, but I had to go through something of an introspective moment to get there.

You see, there are just too many adverts on TV that are trying to get you peeps to stop buying puppies, and to adopt a rescue canine. And, unfortunately, there are too many good reasons for that.

Canines are all over the place – you’ll find us in every country, and you’ll find that sometimes we are treated badly. And yet a canine’s experience remains pretty much the same. Whatever happens, we remember all the good times – the kind voice, the soft hand; the place at the table, the times of plenty.

But then we recall the ugly times – the times when you peeps became unpredictable, or ill, or old; the times when we became too much of a burden to bother about, or became too expensive to care for or, sometimes, too precious not to be looked after properly.

Some canines end up in the pounds – many of them kill-mills where ‘put to sleep’ is the kind euphemism for ‘euthanasia’. Some end up in shelters where they find hope. Others end up like me.

Straying canines belong to nobody, and few peeps care. You can wander around and do what you like, but hunger soon becomes the main driving force in your life.

You think of nothing but food.

Perhaps worse than being hungry is that you realize you are in the world, but you are not a part of it. You are seen, but you are not wanted; you are ‘shooed’ away, excluded from everything; cast out as a nuisance, as an irritant, as a reminder of something ‘other’.

Each canine gets to that point where he says to himself ‘well, yeah – I don’t need you’, but the truth is, we still spend time looking in from the outside; spend time watching the sleek, clean coats of the well-fed canines we pretend to hate.

We hear of ‘forever homes’, but we’re like forever – whatever’ as we go about our own pointless rituals.

Secretly, we all want a ‘forever home’; we all want to be accepted, cared for.

Those two words – ‘forever home’ – begin to burn inside you; they carry so much weight because they represent the impossible – the miracle that can never, won’t ever happen.

But, for some, it does happen. However it may come about, your experience of peeps changes from one of pain to one of heaven. It’s not that you ‘find’ a ‘forever home’; it’s that a ‘forever home’ finds you. IT FINDS YOU!

From being invisible, finding a ‘forever home’ means that you are now seen – you are now included. Finding food is no longer the focus of your thoughts; getting through the day with no new scars to show for it is no longer a mark of a successful one. Food is put in its proper place, and a new feeling takes over: you now know you are loved.

Your forever parents treat you like you’re the best thing ever, perhaps because that is really how they see you! They may sometimes think about your past – who brought you up, why you have the quirks you do, why thunder makes you quake, why you cannot catch a ball – but they see those things as wounds to be healed, not reasons for rejection.

Canines get a space, not only in their peeps’ beds, but also in their hearts. How else to explain the sorrowful love and tears of forever parents bringing an empty collar or a casket of ashes to be blessed? A final, longing, lingering, act of love for a canine gone across that Rainbow Bridge.

I marvel at it all. I think about asking my dads ‘why?’ but all I need to do is look into their goofy faces, and I know that they love me ‘just because’. I don’t ask for that love, and I certainly don’t deserve it, but it is there – it is there when I fall asleep, and it is there when I wake up. It is beyond me and beside me – and it always was, and it always will be.

I know that. Now.

But there are millions upon millions who don’t know. They are the same as I once was. They are no better or worse than me, but they all feel the rejection I once knew, the isolation I once knew; the invisibility I once knew. And they all long for their ‘forever home’.

What they need is a light to come among them; they need to be rescued. They need their fear and their hunger to be turned into companionship and love; they need their pasts redeeming.

And this is what God did when Jesus came into the world.

Keepin’ it a Merry Christmas,

Winston.

Winston's Paw