(Doggies) are a girl's best friend....(NOT diamonds).

Me and Scoobs

A few new moons ago, I wrote down some intentions. I thought about what new experiences I wanted to call into my life. Kind of cliche, but I know we all do it; the ubiquitous New Year’s resolution, the beginning of a yoga class, sitting in ceremony or simply setting new goals for ourselves. Very new-agey I know, but also very profound. 

Usually I have similar intentions each month, revolving around health, clarity, peace in my mind and body, and that sort of thing. However, several months ago I wrote down, “Furry friend”. I was calling in dog energy, and wasn’t exactly sure how that would manifest. Originally, my friend in Puerto told me about a litter of pups born recently at her neighbour’s place. I went to check them out, fell profusely in love with ALL of them, and then settled on two in particular that I really vibed with. I left on my month long birthday adventure in the middle of August and would decide which pup I wanted on my travels, and he’d be ready for me when I got back in September. 

During my travels, I was staying with a good friend (and fabulous healer) Kristen Grayce, in the mountainous region of Chiripo. She literally lives in the middle of nowwhere amongst a smattering of small local houses. One morning I went for a little stroll and as I was walking by a small house I heard, “Senorita, hablas espanol?” (asking me if I spoke English). I replied yes, and she quickly and bluntly said, “Do you want this dog?” as she pointed to her front porch where a large chocolate lab was sitting, beside a small mutt. “The big one” she clarified. I went on to tell her I had a puppy waiting for me in Puerto and couldn’t possibly take him. I glanced over and saw he was on a really short rope, but he seemed pretty content, smiling and panting away. She explained that it was her daughter’s dog, and her daughter had been sick so she was taking care of him, but couldn’t afford to feed him. I told her I was sorry, but couldn’t take him and wished her luck. 

Over the next day or two, that lab popped into my mind several times. So, I decided to call the local shelter to see if they’d be able to find him a new home. I didn’t like the short rope he was on, and I also didn’t like the way she yelled at him to sit down. She was trying to show me he was obedient, but it was clear that she didn’t want him around and he was a burden. I heard back from the shelter and they were completely full and weren’t taking any more dogs. 

On my last morning there, I went for another walk before the long 8-hour drive back to Puerto Viejo and walked past the house again. The woman was there hanging laundry, and the pooch was there, lazing and dozing on the porch. I told her that I called the shelter and they would be in touch if anything changed, and hopefully he’d find a home. She thanked me and I continued my walk, all the while thinking that I had to take this dog with me. While walking back to Kristen Grayce’s, I stopped to give “Snoopy” (pronounced eh-Snoopy) a little pat. He was chubby, his fur was a bit matted and dull, he had some goop in his left eye, but his eyes shone. This dog had some amazing chilled energy and was just grateful that I stopped to give him some love. That sealed the deal. 

I went back to my friend’s place, called a few of my peeps in Puerto to see if anyone would take him. A good friend Luciana said she would babysit him for the two weeks I’d be away doing the Moondance then in San Jose, and then I could figure out how to find him a home after that. My landlords were cool with him staying with me while I did this. And so, I drove back to the house, chatted with the woman and her daughter on the phone (who was distraught and in tears, but grateful that he was finding a new home). As soon as I popped the trunk, he jumped into the trunk and sat there happily awaiting the road trip. A fellow traveller. I loved him already. 

During the ride home we stopped, had some pees and small walks and I just felt calm and happy in his presence. He’d pop his head up from time to time to say “Hey, thanks for getting me outta there.” When we got home to Puerto I took him to Luciana’s place, who also immediately fell in love with him. She and her roomate Milagros would be the perfect foster mamas and ended up taking him to the beach and parties, where he was a hit. EVERYBODY loves this dog. I mean, it’s crazy. 

When I returned from my travels, I brought him back to my place and we began our new journey together. And what a journey it was. I forgot to mention that when Snoopy jumped in the car to leave and I was about to drive away, the woman said breezily, “Oh, and when it rains and storms with lightning and thunder, you have to pat him.” I thought that was no big deal, a lot of dogs don’t like storms. I had no idea that he was actually a PTSDD (post-tramautic stress disorder dawg), and that we’d both be in for a ride with the tropical rains of the Caribbean. 

During the first rainfall (without thunder or lightning) I noticed that Scoobs was starting to shake and look around anxiously. Before I knew it, he bolted over to my next door neighbour’s house and hid under their bed. Luckily the two ladies there were quite understanding and liked dogs. I brought him out from under the bed, walked him to my place and put him under the bed there. I sat on my bed and read, playing some relaxing choral music and looked underneath from time to time to soothe him. He was like a Parkinson’s patient on coffee, the poor thing, for most of the night. 

He had several other “incidents” whereby he got off of his collar, jumped over my veranda when I had him in my room and his name immediately became Scoobdini...the escapist. Several times he went to Luciana’s which was great, as I knew where he was. But other times he ran off into the jungle, wide-eyed and panic-stricken, and ended up at random people’s homes in the middle of the night, or the local pizzeria, hiding in their kitchen. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to locate him each time and bring him home. My neighbours lent me a crate from their dog, and using that, along with some CBD oil (a little for me, a little for him), we were able to navigate the stressful storms together. Several months later, he had calmed down and was able to weather many storms in a place whereby he felt safe and protected. Such a gift for him. 

Of course there was reciprocity in the relationship and the gifts he gave me were numerous. His gentle, easy demeanour. His loyalty and immediate obedience; there were many times I’d just think, “get your stick” and he’d perk up, get a stick or coconut and bring it to me for a long game of fetch in the ocean. His joy of just “being”. His love of lazing around, which was crucial for me during a recent healing crisis of a crazy 3-month long ear infection and myriad skin issues. He taught me how to just relax. The fact that he’s 8 years old (the original owner told me about 6, but I think she told me that to make sure I’d take him and not have to face vet bills) was also a blessing for me. As most of you know, I tend to like the younger fellows, who are always so much fun, usually extremely handsome, and at the same time not quite mature enough to handle my woman-ness. Scoobs blazed the trail for me hanging out with masculine energy closer to my age. He’d wait for me on the beach patiently while I swam my lengths, often swimming out to me, and back to shore, to make sure I was okay. He had my back. When he’d take off to Luciana’s place, he taught me about my need for control and how to surrender. He had his own mind, and I totally get if he wanted to switch up his scenery. He encouraged me to loosen up. He reminded me what it was like to make a sacrifice in the name of love. I had wanted to attend a full-day workshop, and my dog care fell through at the last minute, so I couldn’t go. After so many years of being solo and a free bird, it was humbling to not be able to do what I wanted. And yet, this felt good. I was serving, and putting his needs ahead of mine in the name of unconditional love. One afternoon I brought him to my friend’s place about 15 minutes away in a Tuk Tuk. He LOVED the Tuk Tuk by the way. We were chilling in her house and one minute he was there, the next...no sign. The neighbours left the gate open so he got out to explore. Who could blame him after all those months on a short leash on a concrete porch? I got on my motorcycle and began beachcombing. I kept missing him by minutes. One person reported, “Oh yeah, good lookin’ dog. I just saw him ten minutes ago following two girls that way towards Cocles.” Another person said, “Oh yeah, he was playing with some kids for a while over there about ten minutes ago.” After an hour our combing the beach, I drove past the local soccer field where a game was going on. There was Scoobs. Sitting on the sidelines watching the game. If there had been doggie beer, he would have been swilling one for sure. I called him over, and he wagged his tail like mad, most happy to see me as if to say, “Dude! I had the greatest day!” I couldn’t get mad at him. I had to laugh, even in my frustration and after all my worrying. Guru Scoobs really helped me worry less. I had to relinquish control and accept that he was his own being. I love so many things about him but most of all, I remember the way he’d look up at me adoringly from time to time; we’d lock eyes and in that moment silently say  “Thank you” to one another. 

I haven’t experienced this kind of connection with an animal up until this point, and I now know how many friends say they can’t live without a dog. That being said, with my lifestyle, which is still a little nomadic, schlepping Scoobs (aka: eh-Scooby) around Costa Rica is quite unrealistic. and I’m back on the road. After 8 months in one place (unprecedented since university over 20 years ago) I had itchy feet and needed to get out and travel. As for Scooby, it’d be different if I had a car, but that’s not the case. I thought about getting him a sidecar for my motorcycle, but with the rains/storms, that’s not a great idea. And so, as I continue to practice non-attachment (for example, the experiment of shaving my head to not be attached to my looks), I’m taking it up a notch with the pooch. Luckily (for both of us), my awesome neighbours and former landlords (also from BC by the by) agreed to take him, and they are sending me updates, photos and I know that he is well taken care of. 

I feel I was the bridge to get him off his short leash, away from the screaming woman and food-colouring-filled cat food he was eating. He also helped me to bypass getting the puppy, which was a good call. My puppy’s sister was our neighbour and she was and is a lot of work. With my healing crisis, a puppy would NOT have been a good match. He crossed my path and exactly the right time. He’s now a Puerto Viejo dog through and through. A beach bum. A slow-moving geriatric. A coconut-chomping, stick-fetching dog with whom everyone immediately falls in love. He’s special. Everybody sees it and feels it. And so, it’s with gratitude that I acknowledge that we were each other’s medicine, during a space in time where we needed each other. Even though I may not settle down in Puerto Viejo, I know that Scoobs will be there for as long as he can, following hot girls on the beach, rolling in the sand, swimming in the sea, wanting to take in an afternoon soccer match, and always bringing joy to the people around him who are fortunate enough to be his steward. Aho.