My soul-dog long before Hayley-the-wonder-dog was my Sadie the schnauzer. We picked her up from the shelter on her first day of being a shelter dog. She had been malnourished by the previous owner, chained to a fence post, unfed for days. ‘That happened repeatedly’, said the shelter guy. She quickly became my heart, and felt more like my first child than the wirey-haired, beard-faced beauty that she was.
When she briefly ran away a year later, it hadn’t been the first time. We would pile into the car, flashlight in hand, pajamas half on, cursing under our hats, and circle the neighborhood, only to find her happy stub of a tail poking out of somebody’s tipped over trash can. This time however, we found her in a very different pose. She was laying in the road just in front of our house. Her front leg bloodied with protruding bone and muscle. She had been either been hit or attacked, and I thought she wouldn’t make it.
I rushed her to the Animal ER where they wrapped and casted her leg. She was miserable, but at least she and her leg had survived for now. As the weeks went by, I took her in to her Vet for check-ups and re-wraps, until I started noticing a smell. Day by day, the smell grew more and more poigniant. The next vet appointment was weeks away, so I called to get her in earlier. The vet unwrapped her leg, as he had done before, but this time, the smell forced us to stop our inhales. My soul dog Sadie had gangrene. If we couldn’t reverse it, she may lose her leg completely.
Sadie’s doctor made a very wise and leg-saving decision that day. He prescribed air for Sadie’s leg and a lamp shade for her head to prevent her from licking her infected limb. Over the next several weeks, Sadie’s leg improved so much that she stopped limping altogether, and all that was left of her tragedy was a tiny scar where her hair wouldn’t grow.
She needed air. It was that simple. Her wrap was just a band-aid, adding to the poison of infection.
We all need air. The problem is that we’re so invested in the quick feel-good power of our habits, addictions, and compulsions that we use those things as band-aids. We make things more complicated, and like the cast wrap, we just add more poison to the infection by covering up our issues instead of letting them breath. We can cure what ails us, just not by hiding. We need to remember to breathe, discover, acknowledge, and breathe some more until we no longer deny our scars but wear them proudly in order to help others cure their own festering flaws.