When Ami Tomodachi, the poodle, was 3-ish, we found each other.
(I have never been good with dates…)
And he was named extravagantly in a ceremony on the St Mary’s River by a cadre of kids on a homeschool camping trip. His name meant “Friend Friend”… because in any language he was a friend to all.
Tomi was born in a puppy mill somewhere in the Midwest. I have lost his original “papers” from the “Continental Kennel Club” …and
He lived in four homes before we found each other.
I only know the fourth one.
I would often get asked if he was a rescue dog,
He was the loved dog of a young family who had lost everything in the financial crisis –
Their jobs, home and medical insurance – the wife was 7 months pregnant…
Doing what was the only thing they could do when they could no longer afford to feed him – helping him get a responsible, committed home.
If I told you he was a rack of bones with mats, that before us, his dinners included coffee grounds and toothpaste, that he was locked in a bathroom because he had no manners and was a consummate thief – you would have a different story… and a much harsher judgement.
Don’t. We are all doing the best we can with the skills and knowledge and love we have received.
(Tomi with my mum, shortly after adoption 2009 – theirs was love at first sight)
We call them “rescue dogs” to make ourselves feel more like heroes… but it is almost always the dog who is doing the rescuing.
We have a problem with disposable and disconnected relationships in all areas of our lives. We all need rescuing.
Tomi worked with kids in foster care, kids in dependency, and people of all ages in rehabilitation units and hospice. He also worked with souls sitting on park benches and random sofas, providing listening ears and soft leans of love to the lost, questioning, and grieving.
He was the first sworn-in Canine Guardian ad Litem in the state of Florida. He was a Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ). He was my partner in Spiritual Direction and in Animal Assisted Chaplaincy. And he was a member of my family.
He knew, no matter where you start, or whatever trials you have and are going through, there is love, deep and abiding, available to all. He taught that, he trusted it, he helped others feel it – not because he gave unconditional love, but because he trusted that you could find it like he had.
Spring 2006? – January 21, 2020
Be a hero – live heroically.