While our dog Sirius is not as badly behaved as the Labrador retriever portrayed in ‘Marley & Me’, there were certainly times when he would have given Marley a run for his money. He has given us years of pleasure, and on numerous occasions… pain.
The pain was usually associated with something he ate which did not agree with him. When he was younger he could also rival Houdini as an escape artist. On one such occasion, he showed us the power of opportunity, and how sometimes things are just meant to be.
A day after the devastating Christchurch earthquake in 2011, my partner took Sirius for a walk to visit family close by in Wellington. Sirius decided he was bored, broke through a fence and was on the run. I got a call from my partner to tell me he had been missing for about an hour and she couldn’t find him. By this stage it was getting dark and finding a black dog was like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack!
Fortunately, we got a call from the local dog controller advising us Sirius had been found. He said that usual process is for us to collect him from the pound, however the owner of the house had been adamant we needed to collect him directly from the house.
We arrived at a house which was a couple of streets away from where Sirius had escaped. This house sat behind a large fence and gate, with a reasonably long winding path to the front door. The person greeted us with “You can’t have him back”
She explained that her 12-year-old nephew had arrived from Christchurch about an hour before Sirius had literally strolled into their home. The nephew had to leave behind his family to fly to Wellington and was very upset. Even more significant was that he also had to leave behind his much loved Labrador.
She said up to the point of Sirius’ bold entrance the nephew had been incredibly quiet and withdrawn. The nephew had latched onto Sirius and this was the catalyst which broke through the silence.To this day, we have no idea how and why he ended up at this particular house.
We like to think Sirius knew what he was doing that evening, rather than just being the opportunistic dog that he is. Whatever the reason, in some small way his actions helped to ease the stress and uncertainty for that boy after the trauma of the earthquake experience.
Do things happen for a reason? I guess that would come down to an individual's values, beliefs, perspective and attitudes.
I am not a fan of the view that bad things happen for a reason. When thing things do happen which are unexpected, unfortunate, or tragic I find acknowledging the reality and how I feel about it, maintaining resilience and hope, and keeping a positive attitude assists me to deal with bad things more effectively.
This is not to deny the impact and devastation of traumatic and challenging events. It is more to be aware of our reactions to them and when possible, shift our thinking from “this always happens” or “bad things happen to me” as this becomes a cycle which leaves a person feeling trapped and powerless, to one which reframes the situation to allow us to so we can feel more in control.
When my father passed away a number of years ago, after a relatively short terminal illness, it would be easy to focus and remember the pain, suffering and grief which is associated with the illness and loss of a much loved Dad. For me, I prefer to remember and focus on the positive aspects, the values he instilled in us, and even the manner of his death, surrounded by his family.
A friend of mine is currently dealing with a life threatening illness, which is having a devastating impact on her life; she commented about the tremendous and humbling support she receives from family, friends and complete strangers.
We can and do make a choice on what we focus on. We can choose to remember and focus on the negative things or we can choose to look for the positives in a situation and anchor those into our world view.