Upward Facing Dog

By Martha Marcom

This is my dear old friend Lily, whom I’ve known since she was 2
days old when she still looked like a Guinea pig.

She is a delightful being with sweet charming ways--even now, as
an elderly dog, she will take a jaunty leap over a curb and easily connect to people and other dogs with grace.  As a youngster, though, her obsessive border collie nature was often in evidence.  As we had no actual herding job for her, she found other outlets, as in the time, using only her teeth, she disassembled and moved an entire cord of firewood to unearth a ground hog whose tunnel opening was beneath.

David Swenson stayed with us when she was still a rolly-polly
puppy and he said, “Lily, do you want to break-dance?”  He put her on her back and spun her around.  Another year older for his following visit,
she tolerated another round of break dancing. She was a bit older for his subsequent workshop--a young lady dog.  When David offered her a dance this time, she quite firmly refused him.  “OK. Lily”,  he said, surrendering his arms upward, “No more break dancing, you’re all grown up now”.

Here is the successful argument I used to convince my skeptical husband Jerry that we should adopt the puppy my sister was offering us--“The kids (then 16, 13, and 10),  will love her dearly and they’ll come back home to see her.”  That did indeed come to pass and our dog generated love and fun and joy.

I am not selling you a dog here!  They are expensive and require years of commitment; they are quite a lot of trouble!

Lily is now 15--over a hundred in dog years!  She falls down sometimes when her hind legs give out.  When she falls, she always looks around in what seems to be self-conscious embarrassment.  Dogs are stoic and do not want to look weak.  Sometimes when she falls in the park she’ll turn lemons into lemonade and roll on her back in what has to be yoga--a sweet connection with the earth that also must be something like a backbend.

Dogs get you outside even on the bad weather days, and once you get out there in the elements, things become very elemental-- you realize OK, I’m walking on the planet and breathing…from there you can often find something beautiful or humorous to take back. Last night, I saw the sunset reflected resplendently in the puddles of water that had formed from the recent rain.

The initial resistance to getting outside is not so unlike what sometimes arises when it’s time to get on the yoga mat.  Is there some rain or fog or chill inside me that’s making the walk to the yoga mat long and hard? Some unseen obstacle?  And, as in just getting through the door to the outside with the dog, once you show up to practice, it’s so the right place to be!

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