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A Butterfly Moment

A Butterfly moment

A Butterfly moment

 

Sometimes, especially at night, Butterfly likes to do a walking meditation. She’s not overly energetic by then, or full of poop, and she’s sniffed as much as she’s interested in for the day, so while Cricket drags one of the humans up the sidewalk to sniff the world, Butterfly gently but firmly leads the other human to a quieter place in the yard. She walks slowly and with intention. She listens for the wind and the shaking of the leaves. She sniffs the smells that come to her on the air. She takes this time to unwind and let go of whatever didn’t work out from her day so that she can sleep well and wake up refreshed and ready for a new adventure.

Walking meditations are full of joy

Walking meditations are full of joy

Meanwhile, Cricket is practically flattened to the ground to get better traction as she pulls mightily on the leash. She always wants to go towards the street and the cars and the noise. She wants to make every pee trip into a three mile walk, uphill, into traffic.

Cricket is so strong she pulled me back to the Fall

Cricket is so strong she pulled me back to the Fall

When Cricket returns, Butterfly tries to share her calm with her sister. It’s like a Reiki master who warms her hands to build energy before sending energy to someone else, but Butterfly uses her nose. She breathes in the fresh air, paces herself, rests her mind, and then when she sees that her sister is overwrought, she offers a nose to nose check in, and inevitably, Cricket calms down, somewhat (we can’t work miracles here.)

nose to ear, close enough

nose to ear, close enough

Whereas butt sniffing is about curiosity and checking in, nose to nose sniffing is about sharing breath and offering peace. It’s like when you take the hand of a friend who is grieving or in pain and you offer your energy and warmth and life to the other person, as a bridge.

Butterfly really listens to the birds when we go outside. The birds I recognize (with help from my nature loving mom) are the red breasted Robin, the Cardinal, the Baltimore Oriole, and the cowbird. Mom is not a fan of the cowbird. There were also starlings at some point, and a bird whose feathers were left in a pile, like a quickly discarded coat, white with black polka dots.

Butterfly's indoor birdie friend

Butterfly’s indoor birdie friend

I’m not sure if Butterfly knows the differences between the birds, or gets a sense of what they are singing about, but she listens carefully to all of them, and to the sound of the airplanes overhead, or a bus passing by, or the train stopping at the train station. She’s a connoisseur of different sounds and songs, but she doesn’t sing them herself, She just likes to listen.

I wonder if the extra birds hanging out in the yard this summer have been drawn here by Miss Butterfly. She has such a Zen feeling about her that we now have Robins and starlings sitting on the lawn, having their own Butterfly moments, as if two fluffy dogs are not inches away from them.

Even the white cat with brown patches who used to run up the retaining wall at the sight of a dog, has become more relaxed, watching us walk in her direction, even coming up to our front door, and only running away when the dogs make eye contact with her.

Maybe there’s an ad in a newspaper only animals can read, inviting everyone to our backyard for meditation class, and that’s why Butterfly has been barking more often, impatient to get outside to her students.

Butterfly has the ability to dissociate from her body too. She spent eight years in a puppy mill perfecting this skill, so that nothing happening to her or around her had to penetrate her heart and soul. She does this less now, but it’s been a process. When Cricket tears around the room like a pinball, Butterfly will freeze and her face will go blank, for a moment or two, and then she will come back. When my youngest nephew (or his father) decide to drag Butterfly around by the neck, she lets go of herself for a moment, until it’s over, or until she hears me screaming.

Dissociated Butterfly, waiting fro Cricket to stop barking.

Dissociated Butterfly, waiting for Cricket to stop barking.

This is different from meditation. Dissociation is absence, from the mind or body or self, a way to survive, but meditation is something else, it’s sparkly and kind and full bodied and it lets in noise, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. And Butterfly is mastering meditation in our backyard, and, little by little, teaching it to me.

Butterfly's favorite form of meditation - on food.

Butterfly’s favorite form of meditation – on food.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

80 responses »

  1. Butterfly is an absolute doll! I love reading your posts, Rachel.

    Reply
  2. Awww, I swear they are the cutest! Walking Meditation. Love it.

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  3. it’s a rainy, blustery, very cold day here today. when I was doing my stretches this morning I looked out the window and two ducks swam up the creek that passes by our bedroom…….. brightened up my whole morning………. as did your post.
    Terry

    Reply
  4. Your doggies are soo cute!!!! I need to practice mediation too. :-)

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      • I love this post! It is beautiful and sweetly written,and Butterflly looks SO adorable! How did you actually get these pictures inserted into your post? Somehow,on my blog,WordPress hasn’t actually been inserting my pictures into my post,and has been only inserting the link to the pictures into the post,even though I DID upload them into the post. Please go on my blog so you can tell me what’s going on! :)

      • Thank you! The pictures seem to be coming up great on your page when I go there. Maybe it was just a momentary glitch?

  5. Enjoyed this and your appreciation of Butterfly’s disassociation. One wonders what goes on in puppy mills but we don’t want to wonder and then wander into that nightmare. How lucky she is to have you and Mom and Crickett and a safe haven in your backyard to just be. A lot of my animal companions have issues I will never reach through to but I can at least give them love and safety.

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    • Little Miss Butterfly is sleeping near the kitchen right now, dreaming of the sausages she’s convinced Grandma will share with her tomorrow morning. She always knows what will make her happy.

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  6. Hi Butterfly! I love your story!! I guess you like a lot of noises everywhere around you!

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  7. I never meditate over food. By the time I get around to it, it’s gone. I do, however, lament the fact that it isn’t there anymore. Does that count?

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  8. I have to be comfortable .. I spin and spin.. mom waits for me to twirl

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  9. So fascinating to take note of the differences in temperament and behaviour of Butterfly and Cricket. It seems as though they compliment each other almost perfectly.

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  10. Hi Rachel ! It has been awhile. I too have dogs that enjoy their yard and sit and meditate. They also listen to the birds and the birds know they will not go after them. They even have their own chairs to look out onto beautiful scenery. My elderbelle BabyGirl likes it the most. I try each day to go out with them and just sit with them after a busy day and they look forward to our sit in yard time. They have taught me to sit still and just enjoy the sounds and sites.

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  11. Your Butterfly is one special girl! I love the way animals can connect us with the spiritual.

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  12. This is exactly what I have been doing as I go into my senior years, and mama has often wondered what I am doing. She goes along with me, thank dog, but now maybe she’ll join me!

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  13. well written, thoughtful. nicely done!

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  14. I’m so happy butterfly has a loving home now!

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  15. The old woman Slow would love for Butterfly to pay a visit to her Casa de Canterbury amigos – Slow is a meditator of the first order, but unfortunately none of her Three Musketeers is interested in listening to birds in the back yard with her. Sigh. Be grateful.

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  16. hello butterfly its dennis the vizsla dog hay that luks like my kind of indoor bird the kwiet kind!!! ha ha ok bye

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  17. Aww what a gorgeous post! Thank you1
    Hugs, Carrie and pups! x

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  18. Again, such a wonderful, meditative post about dogs, meditation, being, and the self. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this — and felt a calmness as I did!

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  19. It’s amazing how you are able to dig so deep into the girls’ souls. Another fantastic post, Rachel. :)

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  20. That dog seems to have a much healthier hair than I do, kind of depressing. I need a cool owner that loves me, planning on adopting someone? It sure gives you great inspiration the dog.

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  21. Butterfly is such a gentle soul. And like her namesake, Butterfly made a beautiful transformation into the delicate and delightful little bundle of love that she is today. Bless you.

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  22. Aw, what a sweet post. Treasure that adorable little Zen master. And for Cricket, be grateful you have both ying and yang–it’s what makes life so interesting. :)

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  23. Great post. People don’t often pause to think about what dogs think or feel.

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  24. This was a perfect morning read. I just love reading about Cricket and Butterfly, with their very different personalities and approaches to life. I think Butterfly is an excellent teacher of Mindfulness, with her ambulatory warm ups, her offering peace to Cricket, and her seeming comprehension of the place of no mind. She seems a very gentle spirit.

    I love how dogs enrich our understanding of life and heighten the awareness with which we experience the world–we with our hands as the primary connective tool, they with their noses. I wonder what the priority sensory map in the brain looks like for a dog–ours privileges the hands and face, touch.

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    • Thank you! It would be fascinating to see how the doggy brain lights up for smell and touch differently from the human brain. They have so much to offer us, if only we could understand.

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  25. Amazing how sweet Butterfly has learned to disassociate. They are both just adorable. She has come a long way with you after being through so much bad stuff. Hugs and nose kisses

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  26. I just started Chancy a site so that is why my comment is from Mumsy’s Little Chancy Man. I forgot to change it but since you have those two sweet dogs you might enjoy Chancy’s blog. Hugs Maggie

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  27. Rachel, thank you for liking my blog today, thereby introducing me to Butterfly and Cricket. What a delightful read that is!

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  28. Oh wow interesting read too. I only just realised dogs were really emotional, when my nephew arrived. Thanks for liking my blog too x

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  29. My dog does this as well. First thing in the morning she sniffs the air just to see if it is worth going outside. In the evening she does a tour of the garden. She smells the wind too, very interesting to watch. Nice blog! best regards, Barbara

    Reply
  30. Just tweeted three posts about Butterfly. Tell Cricket not to be jealous, her turn will come. :)

    Reply

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