Hubby and I agreed long ago to not be animal owners. Then there were kids. A few years into parenting, animals joined the family. As with anything, there is life and there is death. Both are filled with learning opportunities.
Bunnies, Dog, Chickens, and Horses
Vacation Bible School led us to baby bunnies looking for a home. We built a hutch and loved two boy bunnies. Frosty was all white and Snuggles was all black. The chickens were a wonderful Reggio-based homeschool project that has earned one kid a “nest egg” in egg sales the past few years.
4-H brought horses into our lives. I always tell my kids if something is meant to be it will happen naturally. And that has been the case with every animal joining our family. Hence, we went from horse leasing to owning when my dad brought his pony down here to live AND then our middle child won a horse by writing an essay.
An Open House at my office involved foster dogs. Lo and behold one came home with us for a “weekend visit” that lasted five years. Harris was a rescue dog, who brought his own baggage. He only ever slept in his crate covered with a sheet, except for his last night when he slept in bed with Aaron. Harris didn’t like men or delivery trucks. His visual tracking/peripheral vision was less than optimal–he couldn’t play fetch and didn’t seem to follow squirrels very well. But he was ours and he wove himself deeply into our family.
Harris made a bad choice last week.
We each researched the effects of his action. It wasn’t good, especially for a 20 pounder. Consensus was to keep him home and love him during his final hours. It was a hard choice fraught with second guessing, tears, and love.
Harris never cried once during those 40 hours. He knew. We knew.
Knowing doesn’t make letting go any easier.
The intensity of my feelings surprised me. I knew the kids would be sad. But me? Wow! Grief stricken! The first day that the kids went to school and I was home alone was awful. I sadly called hubby, “I won’t even know when the Fed Ex guy is here!” My legs were chilled without him sitting on them.The floor was quiet without his clicking nails. The first day that the kids were home involved emotional outbursts of all sorts–misdirected anger, sadness, loneliness, deep longing for a dog, and more. The floor is a mess–geez we have to sweep now. Getting up in the morning, leaving for an errand, re-entering the house are now solitary endeavors without our giddy prancing friend.
Space for Grace
How does this relate to In-Motion Intelligence’s over-arching mission of inspiring educators to look at learning through a different lens? Noticing one’s own and others’ reactions creates space for grace. Sit with someone to physically create a sense of safety for the Brain Stem. Hug. Rub backs. Rough house. Snuggle. Ask questions to invite verbalizing of the Limbic Midbrain‘s experience. Listen to allow for storytelling and Frontal Lobe processing.
Harris taught us in his living and in his dying. I hope that everyone has a chance to feel the unconditional love from a fur baby.