Illusions

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -Mark Twain

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles…by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” -Mark Twain

Maisie tasted the dirt coating her tongue as she tore away at the earth beneath her twitching paws. Rocks, twigs and roots were hurled aside as she pulled the earth up like flimsy wall-to-wall carpet.

Maisie was lost in her dream world where she was in charge. Again in foster care, again ignored and given minimal attention. Food, water and a pat on the head. She was left to her own imagination during the frequent naps she took to entertain herself.

People always said, “Oh, is she a pit bull? That’s scary,” blah, blah, blah… She had been adopted three times by someone wanting her to fight other dogs. She had become a very adept escape artist, but her survival skills fell short. Here she was in foster care again. It was the same movie. She wasn’t mean. The mean people wanted her to be mean, to fight with other dogs for money. She couldn’t do it—she was a lover.

There were four other dogs in the foster pack. Millie, a four year old red Queensland heeler, who was adorable and truly was mean. Mandy, a quiet, sweet mix of shepherd and at least three other breeds. She had a soft, long, golden coat and was afraid of her own shadow. Sadie, a working girl always looking for something to do, was a Catahoula. Maisie had not seen a Catahoula before. Her short coat was covered with different colored spots in all shapes and sizes from head to toe. She was also very bright, fearless, and a smart conversationalist. And lastly, Banjo. A big, handsome mixed guy with one floppy ear and stripes like a tiger. All the dogs loved him, and he loved them. But the problem was people. He snarled a snaggled tooth grin and growled when they came near him—then laughed as they ran away. They never hung around to hear him laugh at his silly game. He meant nothing by it.

Maisie had seen several other dogs get adopted during her stay. She longed to get adopted by someone kind who would love her and make her a member of their family. She didn’t know how to be loved. She always had to figure out how to survive her owners—and escape.

The doorbell sounded. Chimes echoed through the house. She watched as the foster mom distractedly fixed her dark hair in an invisible mirror, and opened the door. She adjusted her tight shirt, pulling it down over her belly as she ushered in the smiling young couple. Maisie didn’t move from her spot in the corner. She had a perfect vantage point to see all the commotion. The others rushed the nice couple, jumping on them, barking and competing for attention.

Except for Mandy. She sat in front of them, quietly, with her deep brown eyes focused like lasers on the woman. She never took her eyes off her. Maisie felt invisible as she watched. The foster mom was extra charming as Millie nipped the woman’s calf. The woman was still smiling but rubbing her calf as she locked eyes with Mandy. Banjo growled, sending mixed messages with his tail wagging. Sadie tugged at the man’s pant leg in an effort to herd him somewhere. The couple seemed to like Mandy’s ladylike demeanor, and soon asked what the next step would be. As they separated Mandy from the pack, she seemed a mix of nerves and excitement. Her tail whipped back and forth as she walked out the front door with all the humans. The others quickly stopped the performance and went back to what they had been doing. Bone chewing, sleeping, grooming. Mandy was brought back in after a few more minutes, and the next day they came to take her home. Score for Mandy!

Maisie pondered how Mandy had created her future by being totally different from the others. She had quietly let her focus do the work. She created a new life for herself with just her thoughts! She focused on what she wanted. Not on what she didn’t want. She acted like it was a done deal. Maisie realized she had been focused on the fear that another mean person would adopt her, and that was what always happened. How could she learn to do what Mandy did? After all, she was still a “scary pit bull.” Maybe she could make herself look “not” scary?

A couple of days went by before another prospect arrived with the chiming of the bell. Maisie felt she was ready as she focused on the life she wanted. An attractive woman in yoga togs, and a similarly attired little girl—about seven years old—with beautiful red curls entered. They seemed nervous as they followed the foster mom into the house. Maisie got up from her corner and slowly walked towards them, letting the others rush them as usual. Suddenly Millie had pummeled the little girl to the floor. The little girl burst into tears, filling the room with high pitched screams of terror and lots of barking at Millie.

Maisie walked over to the little girl with her biggest, goofiest dog grin and started to gently lick her tears. The little girl hesitantly started to giggle, alternating between a pouty mouth and a smile trying to break through. Pretty soon she was laughing. She wrapped her little arms around Maisie’s neck, announcing loudly, “Mommy, this is the one. She’s so sweet!”

Maisie’s grin got even goofier. The girl’s mother watched the bonding episode with a smile on her face. Then, the smile was gone.
“Oh, is that a pit bull? They scare me.”
Maisie kept her grin as she leaned into her new pal and gave her another sweet kiss, watching the girl’s brow furrow with worry.
“Mommy, I love her! She’s not scary—she kissed my tears and made me laugh!”

Maisie watched the mother’s face now as it softened, unable to see fear in the gaping, coast-to-coast grin. She knew she’d won her over!

The woman turned to the foster mom and said, “That dog clearly loves Maggie and Maggie loves her. There’s nothing left to do but take her home!”

Maisie reclined on the overstuffed, buttery soft leather couch in her new home. Her head resting in the lap of her beloved Maggie as she stroked her ears. Maisie thought about what had happened. The journey of her short life up to this point. How it seemed like a series of lessons, each one necessary. Up until the point she realized that as long as she had the same thoughts, she would keep having the same life. What power she had! She had created a whole new life simply by deciding what she wanted, staying focused, and taking action to get there. So it was all an illusion, like her dreams, created by her thoughts and perceptions.

Maggie asked, “Maisie, do you want to go outside and play?”
Maisie rushed the door with her paws dancing on a hot griddle of excitement. And they played with reckless abandon.

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