Breaking Through

Some of you may remember that Robert Heinlein once wrote about a cat who could walk through walls. I figure, this once, that I can match him.

After all, I have the dog who walked through doors. The hard way.

She usually appears here as Duchess the Wonder Dog, as in “It’s a wonder this dog hasn’t given herself a heart attack.” Half border collie, half black Lab and all love, she is easily one of the most lovable animals ever issued four legs.

And just a wee bit timid. Which is like saying that Batman is a little bit driven.

It’s not without reason. Dutch, you see, is a rescue dog, one that was never properly socialized as a puppy. We adopted her nearly six years ago, and through love, affection and the careful application of pizza, she had come a long way.

Until our move last April, anyway.

Suddenly Duchess’s world was turned upside down. There was a new house, rich (to her) with the scents of the four dogs who had lived here before. Room layouts were changing by the day, people were coming and going, we even had an infant niece being brought over once a week to be babysat.

And so, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised when we came back from a trip one afternoon to find Duchess waiting for us just inside the front door.

“Did you shut her up in the bedroom?” Heather asked.

“I thought you did.”

I went upstairs. And found we had.

I also found a pile of wood shavings. And a Duchess-sized hole in the door.

Duchess had gotten so anxious that she had clawed her way through.

“Oh, Dutch …”

She’s OK now. More love, more affection, just a little bit of medicine. But you can’t experience the Arc du Duchess without it clawing at your soul a bit too.

And perhaps finding a bit of kinship.

We’re a strange species. We change our world more than any other … and often fear change more than anything else could. Something as simple as a new Facebook design can inspire outrage for days; more fundamental shocks can fill letters pages, or council chambers, or the streets themselves.

When I was very young, my Grandma lived with us for a while. On some nights, when she had rinsed out my hair to finish a bath, I would look in the mirror at this face with its drippy, sodden locks hanging down and declare “That’s not me!”

How much of that survives when we get older?

And how much of it must live in the heart of the abused – animal or human – who has been hurt without understanding why?

Perhaps in realizing it, we can fight it a little. Perhaps we can help bring a little peace to ourselves, a little kindness to others. Perhaps at some point, we can actually remember that all of us need all of us, and that love, whether to a fearful dog or a fearful world, is never out of place.

I hope so. I really do.

A hole in the door is easily fixed.

It’s the hole in the heart that needs all the love we can give it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go hug my dog.

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