Careful What You Wish For: A Story About a Dog and Finding Our Way Home

You know how people who are super Woo Woo are all, “Manifest what you want to see in the world, and it will come to you?” And then it’s annoying because often they’re right and you’re all, “DAMMIT. I SHOULD’VE MANIFESTED MORE?” Well, let this be a cautionary tale.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU MANIFEST, friends. 

I, for example, forgot to be manifesting millions of dollars.

I forgot to be manifesting the surprise discovery that I’m a Cadbury heiress and, per the terms of the will left by the great, great grandfather I never met, will be forced to move to a private island off the coast of England in order to focus all my attention on a quiet life of personally ensuring Cadbury samples are up to par. It’s the family legacy. I must do my part.

At the very least, I forgot to be manifesting a full time housekeeper and gardener and cook.

And speaking of cooking, I forgot to manifest calorie-free potato chips and ice cream, which, let’s be honest, would’ve benefitted all of us, so now I owe the world an apology. 

Instead, I allowed my subconscious to run the manifestation ship, and I’m sorry to tell you there’s something I love even more than a stupid amount of money, Cadbury chocolate, not doing my own housework, and all the consequence-free potato chips and ice cream a girl could eat.

Dogs.

I’m sorry, World. I really am. I’ll try to focus in the future. But for now, I’m manifesting animals.

No sooner did Nyx the Magnificent, Tender of Dreams and Soother of Her Skittish Boy, enter our lives, another soul showed up.

In my car.

Do you see him? 

Yeah, we didn’t see him at first, either.

I was sitting quietly in the family room, minding my own business, working hard (read: trying to watch Harlots and eat Oreos without getting caught by my children) while my humans loaded the car with our latest Goodwill run. 

They folded down the back seats and loaded from the back doors and hatch until the car was ready to go. Greg hollered he was on his way with the child who drew the short straw and had to join him for the drop-off, and they walked out the front door.

Only to walk back in.

Twenty seconds later.

With the most bewildered looks on their faces.

And, TBH, a little bit accusatory. Like they wondered if I was pranking them. Heads tilted to the side. Pausing to see if I’d break the silence first. 

I thought they’d figured out I had Oreos. So I admit I looked a tiny bit guilty.

But instead of sternly holding out their hands for cookies, as we do when we catch someone in the act, my child said, “We can’t go to Goodwill right now.”

And I was all, “???”

And she was all, “…”

And I was all, “No, seriously… ???”

And she was all, “Because of the dog…”

What dog, you ask? EXCELLENT question.  I had the same one.

Me: What dog? Which dog? Did our dog get out? Is a neighbor’s dog racing down the street? Do they needed my help catching it? 

My Kid: No. None of those. It’s just the dog in the car.

And you know that moment when people say words you know are real… like, you technically understand the words “the” and “dog” and “in the” and “car”… but they don’t yet make sense put together? It was that moment. 

Me: A dog. In our car?

My Kid: Yes, Mom. A black dog.

Me: But not our dog?

My Kid, rolling her eyes: We don’t have a black dog, Mom.

Me: Not a dog we know?

My Kid: Do we know any black dogs?

Me: I mean, not very well. In our car? Like, our car? The car we own? 

My Kid, sighing because her mother is Very Slow: Yes. In our car.

Me: Where in our car?

My Kid: In the front seat. 

Me: Like, it just jumped into the front seat? Just now? You saw a dog on the loose and let it jump into the car so we could help find its owner?

My Kid: No, I think it’s been there a while.

Me: What? How? How has it been there? How do you know? Did it magically appear? Did it apparate? Does it know how to use car doors? Did it break a window with a hammer? How long has it been there?

My Kid: Oh, probably since last night because the door was open and that dog was running around.

Me: Wait. The car door was open last night? And you saw it open? And you did not close it? Like, you weren’t like, “Oh. The car door is open. I shall close it.” And now it’s a new dog’s den? And you can’t go anywhere because there’s a big, black dog growling at you in the front seat? That’s what you’re telling me. Yes? 

And that is, in fact, what she was telling me. Which meant someone needed to Handle the Dog Situation, and clearly that someone was me.

🤷🏻‍♀️ 

So out I went to the driveway to the see the dog who was in the car.

He was very growly.

Very scared.

Very ears-back-leave-me-alone-or-I-will-eat-your-face.

And I know we don’t know when dogs are just bluffing and when they will actually eat our faces, but I’ve previous had a dog dine on mine — I have the years of plastic surgery and the nose reconstructed out of my ear and the fake teeth and the scars to prove it — so I have a firm Take the Dog at His Word policy. 

You’re growling, Dog? You can tear me to bits? I believe you. I do. 

But also, I love you. And maybe I can prove to you that I’m not scary. And maybe we can be friends. 

I will tell you, the dog did NOT believe me. 

Not at first.

And so I spent a long time walking around the car, moving slowly, keeping my distance, but also talking in soothing tones, and telling him he’s a good doggo, and bringing him water and food, and making no sudden moves. 

What might happen, do you think, if we treated ourselves that way when we’re tired and afraid and growly and ready to take off faces?

What might happen if we were just kind to ourselves, and used low voices, and said “there, there” a lot, and reminded ourselves we’re good humans, and maybe got ourselves a glass of water and a bowl of food, and made no demands, and just tried to soothe our beasts? 

I wonder, don’t you?

I wonder if we treated ourselves like vulnerable, lost creatures, if we might settle more quickly.

And heave BIG sighs.

And stop snapping at the hands trying to feed us.

And finally let them pet us and keep us safe.

I wonder if we might, after a time, stop trying to bite off faces and instead … relax.

Calm down.

Trust that we can be good friends to ourselves. 

And if, like this sweet one, we might eventually participate more actively in ensuring we’re well cared for. Loved. Comforted.

I mean, maybe we could learn that. Maybe if we remember we’re worthy of love even when we’re at our growliest. 

I sent a kid across the street to our neighbors’ house for supplies. They’re some of our besties so a) they put up with our shenanigans like A STRANGE DOG IS IN OUR CAR AND WE ARE GOING TO SAVE HIM  AND YOU SHALL HELP — ALL HANDS ON DECK, STAT, and, b) they’d just lost their own, gorgeous, darling 9yo wolfhound so I knew they’d have a collar and a leash I could borrow. 

I named this baby Vicious Dog. 

You know, to protect his pride. I didn’t want him to feel his growling was wasted.

And then I begged for temporary shelter for him from the same neighbors. We, after all, had a new, unvaccinated puppy at home, and it became very clear very quickly that Vicious Dog hadn’t been well cared for. 

He was filthy, of course, and over the next several days we learned neighbors had seen him running on the highway close to our house and through our neighborhood. No one could catch him. He wouldn’t come willingly. Too scared, I’m sure. He had scabs and scars on his head and back. No microchip or collar. And, after myriad ads on Facebook in all the local groups we could think of, dozens of shares, ads on NextDoor and Craigslist, calls to the police department and the local animal shelter, and flyers in the neighborhood, no owners, either. 

It makes me wonder what happened. He’s young — barely a year, if that — and strong. Several sketchy people tried to claim him as theirs, I assume for dog fighting rings, but they had no proof and gave themselves away with bizarre claims and newly constructed Facebook profiles to try to snag him. Best case scenario, he was an active puppy and folks often aren’t prepared for the months after a dog is no longer an adorable puppy and before he’s fully trained not to be a destructive asshole. So maybe he was dumped. Abandoned. Worst case scenario, he made his way out of an abusive situation. Somehow. Miraculously. Which is what we suspect.

Maybe he manifested what he wanted. 

Maybe he was guided to a safe place.

Maybe he just got really lucky. 

But he has, for sure, found his way home. 

As of yesterday, having completed all requirements under the laws of our county, Vicious Dog became our neighbors’ own, slipping into their lives like a special gift from their dog in heaven. 

Congratulations, Cosmo (the artist formerly known as Vicious Dog), and congratulations, Melissa, Webb, and Leigh. I could not be happier for the four of you. 

So, shhhhhh, do not tell my long lost pretend Grandfather Cadbury… or Greg who is practical and therefore prefers millions of dollars and/or private islands we can sell… but I did manifest exactly what I wanted. 

Another vulnerable soul. 

Safe.

Home.

May we all be so lucky.

Waving in the dark, as always, and wishing us all a gentle place to land,

 

 

 

P.S. Did you know I run a small number of retreats each year? I do! One of my very, very favorite things to do is hang out with members of our incredible, worldwide community and offer rest and respite from our regular lives. I would LOVE to have you join me.

Click here for general retreat information. We’re 85% full for November 2019. If you’re thinking about attending this fall and have any questions at all — like, “OH NO! There aren’t many spots left and I want to be in a bed/room where I’ll feel comfortable!” — please contact our registrar, Maggie Peterson, at Petersonm1@spu.edu. I’d love to see you there. The Oregon Coast is one of my happy places. 

Or, if you want to head straight to the registration pages, you can register via my farm website, CAIRNS FARM:

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. Thank you so much for your writing. You always lift me up.

  2. A dog led and protected! A great story. I actually gasped when I saw him, though, because he’s the spitting image of our pup, whom we adopted from the Newberg Animal Shelter earlier this year. She’s a six month old greyhound/pit bull mix, and had four black brothers and a sister, also up for adoption at that time. Cosmo has a distinctive angel-shaped spot on his chest, so he might be identifiable if he was part of that litter. Anyway, I’m so glad he has a loving family now!

  3. Awww. Even growly dogs need someone to love them and let them be safe. I hope that Cosmo has a very happy life with the people he manifested.

    (My sister-in-law and her husband adopted a growly dog who had clearly been through some Bad Stuff, we just don’t know what. It took a few years and some training, but he turned into a Dog Who Is Not Afraid. He is still growly sometimes, but only because now he has some new small humans to protect.)

  4. Thank you Beth for being “Beth”! I’m a newbie to finding your page and am so thankful I did! I so appreciate your honesty and humor. Keep it up girl, you’re doing great work!

  5. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

    Lucky dog!

  6. Beth, do you know that a black dog is a universally recognised symbol for depression? Every since Churchill described his bad days as walking around with a ‘black dog on his back’, they’ve been used as a symbol for those persistent hopeless moods which you just can’t shake yourself out of or pull yourself together from. And absolutely I wonder what life would be like if society treated those of us who suffer from them as kindly as you treated that real-life fur baby… Well, until it catches up, I’m going to try to be kind to myself today. Even if all that might mean is I manifest myself back into my bed for an hour…
    Waving in the darkness back at you…<3

  7. This has been quite the week for me, and I fear my inner soul has been camped out on the front seat all scared and growly at folks. I may or may not have been extra cussy, and I may or may not have cried at work a few times, but only once that anyone saw… Thanks for the reminder that I just need to be a little kind and patient with myself, Treats and water and kind words instead of the ugly thoughts in my head… Before long I’ll be wagging my tail again.

    Waving in the dark…

  8. You told just the story I needed to hear today. How did you know??

  9. THIS is the story I needed today. Thank you for being you. Every beautiful Beth-y bit.

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