The Impermanence of Life

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Life is strange. So many uncertainties yet one definite truth about life is that it all ends at one point in time. How it ends, how it stops, how we spend our last breath is one we do not know. When reading the many articles and literature on happiness (humans seem to be obsessed with finding happiness), one advice that often comes up is to think about life and death.

This week I’ve had many reminders. Many opportunities to think about life and death.

First, having dogs that are innately hunters, I am constantly reminded about the circle of life.
My happy dogs like to bring me gifts from their day’s play. Sometimes it’s a dried up dead lizard or snake. Sometimes its animals which I’d rather not see and have to ask Alex to dispose of. This week, I found a poor bird whose life has left its winged body on my porch. It was such a pretty little bird who had a ‘bad’ day. For dogs, hunting is everyday life and play. They hunt, they kill, then they lick me happily on the face and take a nap. I love them dearly.

My second reminder was on how weak physically humans are. I caught the flu. A vicious flu that showed its full strength just as I had to travel for work. I have had my annual flu vaccination and been exercising regularly. I believed I was in pretty good health, but yet it still took a great many days to overcome this vicious virus. I am still not completely well. I survived meetings through aids of medication and vitamins then spent nights trying to sleep amidst the fever and congestion. Once I got home, the adrenaline that kept me in working state vanished and I was left feeling frail and weakened. Muscle strength vanished and appetites disappeared. Thumping headaches followed. It’s been a long time since I felt so weak and such an invalid. Life is indeed fragile. Although a flu is nothing compared to other illnesses, it’s enough to remind me.

My last reminders were news of a dear friend’s family loss. The next day it was followed by the lost of a dear colleague’s family loss. Just a day apart, they have had family members who suddenly parted. One morning, you wake up to what will be another day, like every other day, but by evening it is not so. So quick and fleeting is life. So final.

So impermanent is life like everything else. Let’s remember to enjoy and be grateful for our lives. Let’s live in the present. Let’s not worry so much about the future, we forget to live in present.

Let’s do something to help our world. As Benjamin Franklin once said we should constantly remind ourselves and ask ourselves is “What good may I do in the world?”

I’m searching for a cause I would like to devote my energy to helping make a difference in this world. There are so many I can’t quite decide. What are some causes that drive your passion? Please share. 🙂

Dog tales: Jesse and his bloody snout

It’s a Monday and Mondays deserve stories that will put a smile on your face. (Hopefully I will succeed) So here goes my story of Jesse and his bloody snout as told by Alex, Jesse’s dad. It happened a few months ago, I remember not exactly when.

It was a sunny day, extraordinary for the monsoon season, but then this year was a strange year with the rain strangely missing and then sometimes not. And as sunny days goes, James, Jesse, and Zoey would find themselves running around the garden, chasing birds, snapping at insects, killing lizards, jumping at toads, running through hedges and digging holes in the garden. That is the daily life of my dogs when they aren’t sleeping (which dogs do for an average of 14 hours a day), and when Alex and I aren’t home.

So each day, Alex comes homes to happy, dog wagging tails that wag so hard they look like they might just fall off. On that particular sunny day though, Alex came home to wagging dog tails but something was off. James the Labrador was running around as innocent, optimist Labradors do, but with an air of distraction and confusion. Zoey, the protector of the house, was running around back and forth from the middle of the garden to Alex while gently whimpering. Jesse was quiet, still as Siberian huskies are, dog wagging happy but with a bloody snout.

Alex thought to himself, as any concerned dog owner would, “Oh my, what happened to Jesse to have such a bloody snout and will he be okay?”

Panic sets in.   He walks over to the middle of the garden, where Zoey keeps running to, and sees a black snake almost two meters long, lying still but its head moving around.

“Oh shit, was Jesse bitten by the snake?” Dear oh dear little Jesse (who isn’t so little) this might require an emergency trip to the vet. Hope not.

Fortunately, some quick thinking sets in and Alex goes find our neighbor who has some knowledge regarding snakes. The neighbours come in, take a look at the long black snake and tells Alex it’s a rat snake and not to worry. Rat snakes are not dangerous and have no venom.

A deep sign of relief follows. Jesse was safe and Alex need not worry about the snake. The neighbours pointed out that our dogs, which we had feared for their lives, had attacked the snake and broke its back.

At that point, feelings of fear changed to sorrow.   Our dogs had broken the snake’s back when it was out searching for food. And now, the snake was to be our neighbour’s dinner.   From the northeast of Thailand, they were elated to have some delicious snake for dinner. Apparently it tastes like chicken.

That was the excitement of the day. I feel bad for the snake, but then I’m also happy my dogs are safe and that I wasn’t there to see it.

As Free as the Wind Blows

I love dogs and if you’ve ever talked to me about dogs you’ll probably think I’m a little crazy. Now with James, a labrador, and Zoey, a Thai dog, I could spend hours talking about them. I have pictures and video clips of them on my phone and my eyes start to smile just thinking about them. Yes, dogs are really good for your heart and soul. For me anyways.

Watching James run around the garden and playing ball or frisbee with him, I finally understand why Labradors are so popular. Having previously had a miniature daschund, whom I loved dearly, I have to say that labradors are so different in character and temper. They are happy go lucky dogs that see the world as a wonderful playground.  Nothing is bad and everyone is your friend.

James’s favorite game in this world is “Fetch.”  He could play it all day all night and couldn’t be happier.  Everyday I try to fit in a little game of fetch, but in the case that I should forget, James will gently remind me by bringing his favorite bouncy rubber ball to my feet where it gently drops to the ground with a little squeak.  He doesn’t bark nor make a big deal about it.  He just puts it down, sits up straight and looks at me with his big doe eyes and ears a little back.  My heart melts and become his ball thrower.

If he’s not playing fetch, he’s running around the garden with Zoey.  Yes its good to have two dogs so they can keep themselves busy when you are off doing other things.   Together they’ll run round and round the garden, through hedges, round trees and underneath tables.  Don’t think about growing beautiful flowers or potted plants.  Everything in the path of powerful James running with his ears flapping and his paws pounding are taken down.  James and Zoey run as if it were the best game on Earth.

Watching them somehow reminds me of kids running around.  The happiness and joy that comes with running evokes freedom.  Running in tune with nature, wind in your hair and grass beneath your feet.  I wonder why is it that adults no longer run.  As we grow up, we forget the childish delight that comes with running the garden and getting dirt on our hands.

This summer, why not take a little breather, feel some grass beneath your feet and the wind in your hair.  It’ll make wonders.  Find that inner child and be as free as the wind blows.

Zoey, hunter. James, cute.

There are many stories, reviews of travels and eateries waiting to be told, yet tonight I feel like writing about dear James and Zoey, my two dogs.  It’s been roughly three months since we’ve had James and four months since we’ve had Zoey. Time flies happily when you have dogs and I have to say they really are good for the heart and soul. I smile whenever I talk about them and if you talked to me about dogs, I could spend a long while discussing them with you.  Make sure you have a chair. There’s something about dogs that is good for the soul. Its no wonder they have been man’s companions since times past.

James the labrador is a heart breaker.  He has one of the most innocent looking faces especially when he is sitting quietly looking in quiet anticipation of a treat or snack.  He doesn’t jump, nor does he offer his paw, he just sits quietly looking up (for that’s how he has been trained) at you hoping that whatever you are doing will provide him with some snack.  Labradors have a voracious appetite and James is no exception.

If you are a bit late with the food, he doesn’t complain but just quietly goes and sleep by the food box, just “in case” you forgot.  He would do anything for a snack so training him is easy. All I have to do is have a snack in my hand and go through the motions together with the words.  Apart from sitting, rollover, heel, fetch and a few other tricks,  my favourite is “Bang bang” where James temporarily acts dead.

I make my hand into a gun, point it at James, and he falls on his back with his paws up as if he were dead. After awhile his paws fall down and if you go “bang bang” they go up again.  It makes me laugh just thinking about it.  It’s incredibly cute especially with his big paws.

James’ babyish charms also get to me.  When he was a puppy, I’d let him crawl onto my lap and sit on it looking out at the garden.  Now that he weighs 18kgs he still attempts to climb onto my lap like a baby wanting to be hugged, only to be turned down because his head alone is as large as my lap.  He hasn’t realized how large he has grown.  It melts my heart.

Zoey, by contrast is a petite, light weight and delicately built Thai dog with a small little face and two black patches that give her a distinct look.  She came together with the house is what we like to say. A sort of “free gift” that popped along with the house and we didn’t have the heart to just throw her out.  She was a mere puppy with a wagging tail and two beady eyes.

Unlike James who runs through water and jumps in whenever he can, Zoey is a clean and polite lady.  She dislikes water and rain and if the grass is wet, she’d walk on the stone slabs we have laid out.  If she wants to walk around the garden, she’d jump onto the little ledge we have along the fence and tiptoe along its walls.

She is also easily distracted living in her own world like a little girl chasing butterflies.  Once let into the garden, she’d run from back to front in a speed that’ll make you wonder if she was a tiny replica of a horse or maybe some sort of greyhound.  She also jumps high.  Sometimes just for the sake of it, she’d jump over James while running as if he were some part of an obstacle course.

Oh and yes, she can also play “dead” with the “bang bang.”  Her tiny legs come up into the air. She too can be cute when she wants to.

Don’t be fooled though by looks and behaviour.  Amongst the two dogs, Zoey’s function in life is to be a guard dog.  She instinctively barks at any strangers with a bark that’d make you wonder how it could have come from such a small dog.  She doesn’t trust people easily and is a fearsome hunter.  My garden has no lizards or crawling insects.  She kills them all.  Sometimes she jumps up in the air to snatch a flying insect.   In the mornings, she looks up into the trees longing to get that squirrel by the mango tree.  Zoey is a hunter.  She lives to hunt.

James’s purpose in life?  His purpose is to just be cute.  He melts your heart into a soft gooey slush and puts a smile on our face.  He fetches balls and frisbees, acts dead and do rollovers.  Nothing useful, nothing with a purpose, but just pure FUN!

So that’s Zoey and James.  Two dogs, two characters. Two different barks. Wolf! Wolf!

 

 

 

The Heart Melter

There’s something about coming home to dogs that are just great for the heart. No matter how tiring or crazy a day you’ve had, when the dogs run towards to you as if they hadn’t seen you in years, wagging their tails, and innocently staring up at you with the sweetest eyes;  a part of you melt.  It softens you and your heart goes all gooey.

It reminds one of nature and of life.

It reminds us to take time out from all the gadgets, TVs and technologies that surround us.   It reminds us to enjoy the nature that surrounds us, to feel the grass beneath our feet, feel the wind in our hair and hear the birds chirp.

Yes having dogs remind you of all that.  They do because you have to really stop and notice them, take care of them.  You also have to play with them so that they use up excess energy.  Excess energy they would otherwise turn into biting your trees, and digging up your flowerbeds.  So you end up on grass throwing balls and playing “Fetch.”  You end up gardening to fix those plants the dog dug up or finding ways to keep them from digging.  Then as you are doing all that, the dogs are running around playing, occasionally bumping into you as if they were six year olds.  You can’t help but smile.  They seem so happy just running around on the grass, like when once a upon a time we too used to run around.  That must have been over twenty years go.

To be happy doesn’t mean you need to have all the excesses of this world.  It’s purely a state of mind.

Dogs are happy with the simplest snack or a little scratch behind the ear.  Maybe we should train our minds to be happy just as easily.  Life would indeed be a happy one.  Yes, dogs are indeed good for the heart (even though your house and garden gets occasionally turned upside down.)  Have a good weekend!

Dog Meets Dog

When we were going to get James, I didn’t think much about dog meeting dogs.  I had never had two dogs before as Dyzio had been the sole spoilt dog of the house.  Now we had Zoey and James was on the way.  Then we watched TV and came across Ceasar’s Way which talked about dog psychology.  It was fascinating.  I didn’t think I’d need to use it that much but it was good stuff learning about dominance issues.

I read up a little on what to do when dogs are to be introduced to each other for the first time, but then thought to myself, “Zoey” is a genteel dog that doesn’t bark and wags her tail.  She doesn’t really have any territory and runs around the garden so meeting James should be a no brainer.

James arrives and I carry him off the car in my arms.

Zoey runs around smelling and a little confused.

I let her smell him and she seems a bit confused.  Then I put James down on our front porch and she sniffs and growls.  She gives a deep growl that frightens both James and I. He snuggles in between my feet and lies quietly.  Zoey continues to growls.

Alex and I decide, “Okay, we’ll try it the dog psychology way.”  We’d take them to a neutral location which isn’t our house, have them both on leash and let them get to know each other.  Walk them a little and when all seems good, we’d walk them in together.”

So we did.  Both on leash, we took them outside the front gate to the street in front of us. Both seemed good and both Zoey and James sniffed each other.  A few minutes later tails started wagging.  Alex and I had one dog each and we took them on a little walk outside our fence together.

After a while,  Alex took both the leash and we quickly walked through our front gate as if nothing could be wrong.  We had met friends and taken them home.

James was now a friend, not an intruder.

Still on the leash, we had them play a little.  When all seemed better, I took off the leash and watched them play.  (Here most websites, says its good to watch them closely in case of agression.)  Luckily there was no agression.

Wagging tails and gentle sniffings prevailed that lazy Sunday afternoon.  What a relief.  I wondered what would happen if we had two dogs showing agression.  James slept a good couple hours the way puppies do, occasionally being sniffed by wagging tail Zoey.

Since that day, they have gotten closer and closer.  Always together, always playing the way dogs play.  Some wrestling, some soft biting and leg pulling.  Dogs must be dogs.

Zoey digs up our garden less, and James seems happy with Zoey by his side.  Dog Meets Dog really does involve dog psychology, so if you are planning on having another dog, pay close attention! 🙂  It can make a world of a difference.  Now both are sleeping by my feet.  What happiness. 🙂