The phrase He loved her well, came to mind a couple years ago as I watched a You Tube video about a dog that had been found abandoned in a storm drain in Bali. The phrase can be interpreted two ways, which also makes it that much more meaningful to me.
He loved her well, can be interpreted as he did a good job of loving her. It also can be interpreted as he loved her back to health.
The dog found in the storm drain was a yellow lab they came to call Goldie. The family who cared for her during her recovery and beyond had two dogs. Their black lab, Shem, expressed a fondness for Goldie. Unfortunately the original video has been taken down but its essence will be etched in my heart forever—Shem loved Goldie well.
Shem held the door open at both ends for Goldie as the footage of him sleeping soundly by her emaciated side implied. His company was unburdening—she was free to do whatever was for her highest and best. He wasn’t making her feel bad or pressuring her to get better or in a hurry for her to die so he could get on with his life. This reminded me of the importance of holding the space for someone who is struggling without being invested in a particular outcome. For a human to offer this level of caring can require a bit of their own healing in some cases—going that extra mile that love sometimes calls for.
There was also footage of Shem roughhousing with the family’s other dog while Goldie looked on. She was frail but mobile at this point. Her body language expressed a desire to participate and even enthusiasm as her wagging tail implied. You know how when you hear dance music it makes you feel like moving to the beat? It was like that. Shem didn’t sacrifice his fun for Goldie nor was it necessary—it appeared to be quite the contrary, actually. Watching him express his playful side seemed to delight, uplift and encourage Goldie to express hers.
As humans sometimes we hold back to spare someone’s feelings, but when received with the right frame of mind, doing that thing that brings us joy can uplift and inspire others without us even trying. It's a good kind of contagious.
Goldie also had a condition called, megaesophagus (ME). This is a condition that causes her to vomit easily unless she is upright while eating and for a period of time after she eats. In the original video there was a picture of Shem proudly wearing Goldie’s vomit before they figured that out.
People throw up on us in a figurative way sometimes. Goldie was not being vindictive; she had a condition that she didn’t understand and didn’t know how to control. Shem didn’t take it personally or make her feel bad. Other than the sad part—that Goldie had gotten to this state—the interactions between Shem and Goldie were refreshingly healthy.
When we feel like we got vomited on it’s because the person doesn’t understand what to do with their feelings and hasn’t learned how to digest them properly. And it is often because they feel safest with us so, remove the ego, and it could be viewed as a compliment. Based on Shem’s doggy smile I think that’s how he took it. Goldie was vulnerable with him. And not that I condone hurting the ones you love the most but sometimes it takes puking on someone to realize that we have a condition warranting attention.
Dogs accept themselves for who they are. They don’t have free will. They act instinctively. As humans we have free will, but that doesn’t mean we use it wisely. We often use it to override our instincts, to wish we were something we are not, make simple situations more complicated than they need to be and to take things personally or to avoid taking things personally.
"When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong along with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way." ~From The World According to Mister Rogers
This was how Shem loved Goldie. Pure love is not invested in an outcome. It is for its own sake. Learning to love is a journey that spans a lifetime. Your capacity to love someone well is only as great as your capacity to love yourself. Your world is your monitor. I hope you use it wisely.
Friends in this Love,