Following the cow post a few weeks ago, I began to write this piece with my mind on a special dog.  He had incredible black and white cow-like markings, and he was an important animal teacher of mine.  Bodhi was a gift.  He was named after Bodhisattva, which essentially means enlightened being.  Bodhi-the-dog was just as his name would indicate: gentle, patient, loving, and calm.  What I find so remarkable is that beyond his natural embodiment of these qualities, he brought that same profile out in his human entourage.

Ever since the first day I met Bodhi, I spoke to him softly and gave him wrap-around hugs. There was more than just puppy love going on there.  He had an effect on me that was profoundly transformative.  My nature is fast-paced and anxious at times.  I spend most days as a New York City pavement-pounder and I have a hard time slowing down, even on vacation or a day off.  When I was in Bodhi’s presence, I physically and mentally shifted into mindfulness as if in a seated meditation practice. To be clear though, he was not a boring dog; I was always greeted with an enthusiastic bum-wiggling dance and the presentation of a shoe, and he loved squirrels and treats. Yet even at the dog park while he ran around and showed off his incredible capoeira spins, I found myself completely at ease watching him play.

Two weekends ago, Bodhi was not feeling so well, and we were all keeping an eye on him.  It was a busy weekend with family, so I was operating at my normal, rapid pace even while I enjoyed the festivities. At one point, I got down on the floor next to Bodhi.  He put his head on his paws and I put my head on my hands and we just looked at each other. I was expressing my concern and he was looking at me with reassurance that he just wanted to take it easy and rest. Eventually, he just rolled to his side so that he was cuddled under my arm, and we both fell asleep for a short time.  Other than savasana at the end of yoga class, napping is not modus operandi.  What a gift!

We suddenly and unexpectedly lost Bodhi earlier this week at the young age of 6.  Bodhi taught all of us acceptance, gentleness, compassion, patience, and appreciation for the simple things in life.

Bodhi was the only sentient being whose nature alone could put me at a level of ease that lulled me into guilt-free rest.  He may have needed an arm around him at that particular moment to feel comforted, but I realized in that moment of connection that I had been ignoring my need for some downtime with a loved one.  He showed me the way.

It is said: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Teachers take all forms…even a seemingly-enlightened, cow-spotted, aptly-named dog.  He gave us so many gifts just by being ours.

Bodhi, you are terribly missed.

With gratitude and a triple time bum wiggle in your honor – TaraMarie

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