Mabel’s Magical Afternoon
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”
~ Henry David Thoreau
The other day I received a message from a friend which, with her permission I’m sharing. It tenderly illustrates the unique connections that arise between dogs and humans. In this case, a dog who had been starved of caring human contact for years.
Mabel spent years confined in a puppy farm, neglected to what could very well have been the end point of her life if she hadn’t been rescued in the nick of time. When she was adopted by my friend Camilla, Mabel’s frail, abused body bore obvious signs of wilful neglect, including the loss of an eye and a severe cataract in her remaining one. As well as her multiple physical problems which Camilla has helped her heal from during the 18 months they’ve been together, Mabel experiences severe levels of anxiety and aversion to human contact. Normal life has been extremely challenging for Mabel to learn to accept and adapt to. But, as time passes, with Camilla’s dedication and the help of her canine siblings Archie and Isla, Mabel continues to edge towards a more certain and sustained sense of inner peace.
However, she remains highly suspicious of human contact, especially in unfamiliar situations. Thus, when faced with a confluence of events which meant Camilla had to take her three dogs to visit her 91 year old mother, it was with some hesitation she did so; not least because the trip involved a long journey and new environment for Mabel. Camilla’s mother has vascular dementia and is very frail both physically and mentally, often being unable to walk. Camilla told me that ten days before visiting, her mother had experienced a mini-stroke, by no means her first in recent years. Her illness means she can get quite agitated and not able to follow basic reasoning at times. However, during their visit a remarkable 30 minutes transpired between Camilla’s mother and Mabel, which Camilla’s words describe movingly:
At one point Mum became quite agitated so as a diversion I picked up Mabel and stood her on the side of the chair. Instead of jumping off as I’d expected, Mabel slowly stepped forward onto Mum’s lap and sat down. Then she lay down and then, much to my great surprise she settled down completely and stayed like that for half an hour!! Mum loved it and calmed down completely. We had a lovely chat during the 30 minutes with Mum gently stroking Mabel throughout. I’ve held Mabel on my knee at places like the vet’s waiting room when she’s out of her comfort zone, but she’s never very relaxed and she’s never, ever done anything like this with me. Isn’t she wonderful?
Mum absolutely loved having the three dogs to visit and it gave us a focus for conversation. It was 30 minutes that I will never forget.
We can only wonder at the special grace these two elderly, struggling souls found together that day.
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
~ Maya Angelou