The subject of today’s post is hope. That simple little word that rhymes with soap: HOPE! It’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot….”I hope I win the lottery”….”I hope it doesn’t rain today”….”I hope I get the perfect parking space at the grocery store.”
All of those sentiments use the word “hope” but in such a casual, thoughtless way, when actually, that little four letter word… H-O-P-E packs a very real punch! Hope is the basis for faith. You can’t have faith without having hope first. Hope is like the little seed that gets planted and grows faith from that seed. And faith is what moves mountains.
Living with a special needs, or difficult dog can be so very discouraging as progress is often so slow…if it happens at all. Having a good shot of hope every day can make all the difference in the world! It’s what keeps me going with Rugby. Cognitively, I know the progress he should or should not make. He’s 8 years old. That’s a whole lot of time for learned behavior to get rooted into a dog. Habits can be hard to break….especially really difficult behavior, and as dogs age, those behaviors get locked in tightly.
However, my heart always holds hope. Hope for improvement…hope for connection and understanding….hope for a better quality of life for Rugby….hope for that “aha moment” that’s not likely to happen….hope against hope….hope for a miracle in his world.
In my mind, I always hold the picture of the finished product that Rugby could be. I dream and envision Rugby on a leash, being able to go for walks, being able to easily greet the humans he encounters…and able to ignore the dogs he encounters! I see him being able to hear trigger sounds and while he barks, being able to shut it down right away when he’s asked rather than carry on forever after he gets stimulated. Hope and dreams are closely related.
Are any of those dreams likely to happen. Sadly, no. I honestly don’t “think” they will. Cognitively, I know enough about puppy development to know that Rugby probably just can’t physically make the neurological connections in his brain. I think those things were locked in very early in his life, and the ship sailed long before he came to live with me. My brain knows this, and has accepted and understands all that it means.
But my heart hopes. Hope isn’t necessarily a brain function. I think it’s a heart function. It’s hard to hold the balance of what is “real” against what is “hoped,” so I think the brain needs to focus on the “real” and let the heart “hope” for what could be. That completely makes sense to me…both in my heart and in my head.
I don’t want to live in a world where there is no hope. I don’t want that for my little Rugby, either. I don’t want Rugby to ever think I’ve lost hope in him. I want him to know that I believe in him….and in his capacity to grow and change and improve. It may only happen in teeny, tiny increments, but I want to hope that it’s possible. I’m an eternal optimist. I can’t give up….and I won’t give up. That’s who I am. And when you have a difficult or special needs dog, you must have this sort of heart. Your dog needs it, and honestly? So do you.
Hope is the substance of things believed….without hope, you can’t attach faith or believe that dreams can actually come true. Without hope, you’re left with the reality of what is, and sometimes, that’s just too big or too hard to manage. So dare to dream and to hope. Let your heart soar with what could be. Fall in love with the image of your dog that you want to see. Let hope fuel your faith for things to change and improve. And then work to make those dreams become a reality. And above all, let your dog and your heart know that hope is alive and well….just little seedlings that someday….might just move a mountain!!