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Labrador Lessons
Hana & Saba come home

It was time for another painful good-bye. As I sat on the vet’s floor with Licorice’s gray head in my lap stroking him and crying, I thought about the two new Labrador brothers that were waiting to join me. Their arrival coincided with my prolonged and painful recovery from the loss of my 27-year marriage through divorce, and the deaths of my two previous teachers, Shadow and Licorice.

My new pups taught like University professors, yet, they were only babies. I named them Hana and Saba after my two favorite places on Earth. Shortly after I brought them home, I became dreadfully ill with flu-like symptoms and a horrific cough that lasted for weeks. My job of caring for and house-breaking new pups became infinitely more difficult. While I struggled to get well, Mother Nature’s much-needed rain made my forays outside with the puppies taxing.

Hana was excellent about doing what he needed to. Saba, the dog that loved leaping around in water, hated the rain. Each time I’d have to don my rain gear and umbrella and accompany him only to have stubborn Saba sit by my feet under the umbrella. Of course, the trick was to outwait him, which is fine if you’re healthy and you have patience a’ plenty. I had neither good health nor patience.

After standing in the rain for too long, I picked Saba up, shouted angrily at him and stormed into the house. He looked at me with adoring eyes questioning my startling outburst. Instantly, I felt immense remorse and shame. There was simply no excuse for losing my temper with him. At ten weeks old, Saba was too young to understand. Guilt overwhelmed me, and I felt worse emotionally than I felt physically.

After about an hour of me thoroughly admonishing my Self, tiny, sweet Saba strolled over and plopped down on my foot. With his simple touch, tears flowed and all my self-loathing disappeared. Saba’s lesson of forgiveness was so powerful. My heart melted with his teaching – this little creature that forgave my indiscretion so quickly. His gesture allowed me to let go of my guilt and shame and move out from the shroud of negativity that engulfed me.

Animals are masters of living in the Now, and Saba’s instant forgiveness was perfect proof. If only people had the same degree of forgiveness that dogs possess, our world would be at peace. I truly believe that others reflect that which we most need to learn. Saba mirrored my need to forgive my Ex and finally accept that our divorce was neither “right” nor “wrong,” it just was.

The immediate release I felt when Saba forgave me was extraordinary. It took me some time to emulate Saba, but I have achieved forgiveness, which has allowed me to release the last of my anger and resentment.

 Hana and Saba looked at me with adoring eyes, which melted my wounded heart. With their heads on my foot, they were saying, “You’re special, and we love you,” which filled me with warm, loving sensations. My self-esteem soared for the first time in ages. My love for them was so intense that it almost hurt. From the first time I saw them I felt the smile return not only to my face, but deep within my heart and soul.

The healthier I got the more I began to enjoy my new puppies and learn their powerful lessons. While I taught them to sit, stay, down, and not pee in the house, they taught me profound lessons about my Self: how to trust again, how to love again without condition, how to stay in the present moment and make the most of each one, how to live in joy, how to take life less seriously, and my most challenging – how to forgive and let go.

Their presence in my life was in perfect timing to help me let go of whatever residual negativity I was clinging to. It is impossible to be unhappy around them. They look at life from one perspective only – play. The simplest thing becomes a toy. Their happiness, joyful exuberance, and life-loving, blissful nature provided powerful lessons for the woman who’d misplaced those childlike traits. The obligations and responsibilities of life had buried them along with so much else.

Every day, these two dear souls teach me that I am worthy of being loved and that I am capable of loving. When they look at me with their soulful loving glances, they pierce any semblance of negativity within me. The unconditional love in their eyes is like a powerful laser straight into my heart. I knew these two special souls could help me regain my happiness, my joy, and my passion for life, all of which had been missing for too long. I couldn’t have attracted more skilled teachers. They had big paws to fill following dear Shadow and Licorice, but they’ve filled them admirably. Hana and Saba are living up to their names – two of the most healing places on Earth!