I would venture to guess that each of us have had more challenges over the past few years than at any other point in our lives. I would also dare to say that we are all exhausted, burned out, and even a little jaded. Some of us may have even lost hope.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a shift in my house. For the past few months, my daughter and I have been piecing our lives together. Our house has been filled with exhaustion, anger, and sadness. It seemed like every time we took a step forward, a new challenge arose. The continual lack of progress left its mark, and I feared we would never get ahead, never find a place of peace.
Somewhere in the midst of these challenges, peace slowly started to slip in. At first, the days were just a little less chaotic. Then slowly, the chaos faded, and routines became the norm. We started to laugh more, and the tone of our conversations shifted. Yet, we still didn’t notice the change. The moment we truly felt the shift, was the moment we caught Selina, our one-year-old rescue dog, laughing.
As with every dog, Selina is truly unique. She is fiercely loyal, brave to a fault, always ready for a fight, and serious. Somewhere in her short life, she has experienced too much pain, and the carefree nature of puppyhood never took hold. Filled with love, compassion, empathy, and always willing to listen, she was reserved — holding a part of herself back. My heart was broken at this knowledge, but I also knew there was nothing I could do except love her and strive to make her feel safe.
Every now and then, Selina would have a moment where she would laugh or smile, but somehow the emotion never quite reached her eyes. Working from home, I try to take play breaks with my dogs throughout the day. During one particularly stressful day, I was distracted, and not fully engaged. As I headed back to work, reluctant to settle into the barrage of emails awaiting me, I saw Selina running towards me carrying her favorite toy. I assumed she wanted one more round of tug-o’-war. Relieved for a few more minutes of freedom, I reached for the toy. Selina ran away. Assuming I had scared her, I sat on the floor and coaxed her over. She leaped into my lap, wagging, covered me in kisses, and pushed her toy into me. At that moment, I understood what she was saying. She knew I was stressed, so she brought me her favorite toy. Slowly, I stood up and went back to work, carrying her toy with me, and placed it in my lap.
Every few minutes Selina would come and check on me and her toy. She never tried to take her toy back. Rather, she looked pleased with herself for fixing a problem. When my daughter came home, we sat on the floor with the dogs talking about our day. B stopped talking, staring at Selina. I looked over and saw the biggest smile on Selina’s face and heard the unmistakable huff of dog laughter.
Right then, B and I looked at each other and we both knew everything would be OK, and that we would find peace and happiness again. Selina’s laughter planted the seed of hope in our hearts.
Sara Orellana is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.