Unconditional love (and no mice)

“Is she a rescue?” people ask.

This is one of those questions that makes you a hero if you answer properly. I don’t know what it does if you don’t.

A month ago we met a greyhound and realized she had been missing from our lives. She needed a home. We have a home. It was that simple. Zelda is now part of our family. She is gentle with the kids and has not eaten the cat (which some consider a failing).

I know the plight of greyhounds, but I cannot in all honesty say that I rescued her. It’s much more selfish than that. It feels like someone was giving out pots of rainbow gold and we happened to be the first caller.

Furthermore, the word “rescue” does not suit her. Zelda is not so much rescued as retired. She had an illustrious career on the racetrack and now has retired to the country.

She has a keen interest in ornithology, has joined the local garden club and is considering Celtic harp lessons. She hasn’t told me she wants harp lessons but I did find the Adult Continuing Education catalog in her bed with the Celtic Harp page torn out.

Conclusions were drawn.

Having a dog is a new experience for us. Over the years we’ve become very pragmatic. We have chickens who lay eggs. We have a cat who is supposed to keep the mouse population to a dull roar. We’ve considered a goat.

We love our friends’ dogs, but didn’t see how it made sense for us. Big bags of food, an obligation to walk and responsibility for another life did not add up to a good idea.

Having no reason to get a dog, and no compelling justification for one, we have been dogless all these years.

Needing a reason is highly overrated.

When the dog moved in, the mouse population moved out – something we thought might happen during the cat’s 12 year tenure. There was not a lot of hoopla. There were no headless rodents in the middle of the floor. They just moved.

Perhaps they felt outclassed. In the last month, Zelda has added an element of grace to our home and our family. I feel like English nobility when I walk her. She is elegant, gentle and graceful. And that’s just the external bit. She has given the kids a sense of responsibility. She encourages us to take walks as a family.

We do things for Zelda that we don’t do for ourselves. Love does that.

Adding grace and kindness to a home is at least as practical as backyard chickens. When did we become so pragmatic? At what point did we start needing to see a tangible benefit to things?

It turns out there is a tangible benefit after all. When you invite in qualities of grace and unconditional love, they take up lodging in the most unexpected places. Everywhere you look, you see their blessing.

Neighbors are kinder. Children are more thoughtful. Your own heart feels lighter.

That’s at least as good as scrambled eggs, and absolutely worth the price of Celtic harp lessons.

This column originally appeared in The Magazine of Yoga