It was an unwelcome surprise. He came into our life most unexpectedly. It was Christmas and my son’s girlfriend arrived at our home with a new puppy. He was cute, as all puppies are. Short haired, chocolate brown, a white crest on his chest , all topped off with floppy ears and beautiful yellow eyes. He would slide down the sides of the presents that were stacked under the Christmas tree and find himself a prisoner among the gifts. A cute one he was! He would curl up as a little ball on my wife, Pat’s, chest when she would lay down on the couch. Everyone loved him, and we soon learned that my son’s girlfriend could not keep him since the apartment she was living in would not allow dogs. “Oh dad, can we keep him? Just till we find another home? Please?” “NO!” I emphatically responded. I knew how this would end up. Without real effort to find a home, we would be stuck with a second dog. And so it was that Capone came to live with us.
Capone voraciously ate everything in sight and soon grew to a large and strong 75 pounds. With our daughter off to college and our son joining the Marines, my wife and I were left with a second dog I did not want. I was angry. I resented the impingement on my time, the cost in care and the inevitable messes animals make in a home. Despite efforts from my wife, I held onto my resentment. “Don’t you love him?” “NO! Not at all,” I said.
From my viewpoint the situation was made worse when we took him for a walk. Fearful and anxious, he would assert himself by sometimes lashing out at other dogs, animals, birds, bikes, and cars. We sought the counsel of vets and dog trainers. We enrolled him in training sessions and in class he was the model dog, but his habits outside the classroom continued in spite of training. We had trainers come to our home to train us to train him. We did what they advised but it seemed that this was a pattern we could not correct. This tried my patience. Few walks were ever peaceful. I knew Pat was anxious too, waiting for me to explode with “Enough is enough!”
After one rather exciting walk, instead of lashing out I think I finally understood. Up to that point I only looked for the negatives in Capone. I always sought out information to justify my feelings and how unjust this impingement on my freedom was. I created the reality I wanted. I never saw the good, the love that Capone was. Despite his size, Capone was a lap dog (he still tries to curl up on Pat’s chest, although only his head now fits), a lover of life and presence.
For readers that have participated in Transformational Breathing Breathwork or have worked with sound as a healing tool, you know that toning is making a vowel sound that helps align energy with certain chakras. The tone is somewhat loud and in Transformational Breathing Breathwork, it is accompanied with music when we are in a breathing session. When we would breathe at home, Capone would tone with Pat and me. He would send us his energy and love to help us heal. He was an angel, a healer, a gift. Before that moment, I never saw his loving nature. And so one day when he lashed out, instead of anger I said to Pat with tears in my eyes, “How can I be angry at him? When have I lashed out at others in an unprovoked manner?” In that moment the answer was self evident. How much of what I am experiencing in my world is an out picturing of what is going on in my inner world? In my early days as a father and husband, I lashed out a lot in an unprovoked manner. I am not proud of it and as I look back in many cases I didn’t even know what I was mad about. It was just my underlying nature.
Much has changed since then, but even now, maybe I don’t lash out much in action or word, but what of my thoughts? Where do I lash out in my thoughts? Where does this energy still reside in me? How can I heal it and let it go? Transformational Breathing Breathwork has saved me and so has Capone. He helped me put it together. He breathed with me. He healed me. I loved him. He was my friend. But now he is gone.
On a quiet rainy Thursday afternoon, Capone left us. He fought it, strong as he was, until he finally let go. Pat and I cried. We cried at the vets, on the way home and into the night. I loved him for his love. His love for us was unconditional. Love is love. Truly, there is nothing but love. The scratched floors, stained carpet, dead spots in the grass have no real meaning. They are illusions in the great scheme of the Universe. A Universe that is working to get us to understand that Love is all there is. Weeks later I still cry. He gave us so many gifts, so many precious moments. He taught me so much. I made a commitment to honor his life by never forgetting why he chose to come into my life. I will never forget him.
In the Mankind Project, when we wish to honor and bless another man, we call out his name three times in unison. Join me as we bless and honor this great and loving teacher. Capone! Capone! Capone!