Last November I had the privilege of dog-sitting for my beloved fuzzy cousin, Moose, the weekend before he was released from this world due to kidney failure.
Moose, an 11-year-old yellow Lab, had not eaten the previous few days. He seemed happy and present, but his moving was slow and mopey.
I took him and his brother, Jack, outside in the morning to exercise Jack with a game of fetch. Moose clearly wasn't up to it, but I brought a ball out for him to play his game of "roll ball in snow, eat ice off ball." This was very important pastime.
Suddenly, Moose ran full-speed down the driveway. I feared his instinct kicked in and he was chasing some wild animal. We were in the woods, so it was a total possibility. He then turned around and looked at me, body strong, head and ears up. He had spotted the ball in my hand and was ready to play fetch.
I was shocked. Thirty seconds ago, I would not have believed he had the ability to move that fast.
I was relieved it wasn't a wolf he was after in his delicate state and amazed to see the puppy energy emerge in him, as it did any time the potential for playing ball was suggested.
Knowing he was ill, I threw cautiously. He hadn't eaten and I didn't want to make him feel worse by overplaying. At the same time I wanted to give him the best time I could, to respect his body saying, "Let's do this." He ran his heart out as much as I would let him. When I said we were done, he looked at me with eyes that seemed to say, "This is my last good day on this planet, please just throw the ball!" He would pick up the ball in his mouth and toss it at me ... over and over AND OVER again. I gave him a few more, then stopped out of my concern for overdoing it, not out of his exhaustion, amazingly enough.
Going back inside took only moments for him to return to his slow moping state.
I am still amazed at his ability to go from zero to 100 in milliseconds. How could his body do that?
Fetch, his reason for living, awoke his senses, his purpose and sent happy hormones rushing through his body, allowing him to cultivate that strength and attitude. It was genuine; no one told him his body couldn't do that.
What a way to experience life. Body set in motion from pure joy and anticipation!
Moose got me thinking about playing and finding joy.
What is your fetch? What makes your body and soul move and light up? What gives you energy? What shifts your mood?
Is it helping another person? Making someone genuinely laugh? Hearing and moving to a song you love? The sensual and soul fulfillment of a perfect cup of tea? A good workout?
These moments are a form of play, release, self nurture and care.
I always made sure Moose played fetch when I cared for him. We all would serve ourselves well to keep finding our fetch, embrace and sink into those moments, big or small. Let our happy hormones fly! What a delightful way to support our health and well-being!
Thank you, Moose, for your example of living joy every day, and reminding us that finding our fetch is one of our most important parts of life.
Now... come on! Let's play! Ya, ya! Come on ... let's go!