The Hollow Path Experiential Therapy
It’s all starts with Cavebear. The loss of my beloved Cavebear was still wracking my heart. It was a sudden grief that shook me to my core. I had already come know the magical loss of an animal soul mate when Hollow took her last breath and showed me a supremely serene moment when the animal spirit leaps free and the tired 16 year old body gives in to its lasting rest. I believe in the transfer back to nature. But Cavebear was different. She was 8 and full of power and dedication, and I was about to embark on a renewal of a better life for her. For she has been the bearer of my burdens. She seemed truly to carry the pains of my aliyah and years of tumultuous challenges as I tried to deeply experience and find my way with the Israeli character and culture. I could see my stresses and struggles with the complexities of life here spill over and get lapped up my dear dog.
At times I was so relieved to share the load with her but also concerned that my personal journey to learn so fiercely was transforming into her the unpredictable and defensive ways of the humans here. She was becoming more and more the suspicious, defensive, supersensitive Canaan dog that can determine changes in environment and perceive threat exponentially more accurately and efficiently than most dogs and all humans. She was my personal therapy dog and ever determined to protect me from every single thing that might cause me pain. And if you know Israeli life, going to the post office here can sent you home reeling and crying. Cavebear knew these moments well and maneuvered them with the tuned in grace of giving that only a few ever know. She knew what I needed in each emotional moment of vulnerability and celebration. It was amazing to be in this kind of relationship with an animal. It was also sad for me she wasn’t the happy, easy, friendly, dependable dog she wanted to be with everyone else. She was too busy working and balancing the load of a highly sensitive human. There is an amazing parallel between us and our dogs and my aliyah was being reflected back to me through this brown four legged companion in the most spectacularly and painfully honesty ways. I could see what was going well and not so well in my adjustment to life here by watching her as acutely as she was watching me. So this is for another writing.
It’s important here because I wanted Cavebear to be my therapy dog with everyone and to share this magnificent Israeli canine character. But she was difficult, as many here, and I wondered how we could transform all of this into a healing and therapeutic adventure for all. Five days after my birthday and the very day I set as the day that would begin anew for us was exactly the day she chose to take her final bow. She spent the last evening having trouble breathing exactly as I was struggling with my asthma. She had taken on many of my symptoms over the years. It was the first and only time I heard her breathing with my breath. This dog was always at work and forever in sync with me.
So I was left to again explore the wonders of grief and the many ways immigration offers loss. I thought in so many layers of how much loss and grief sit in our atmosphere here - in the middle of the intersection of cultures and continents and great powers. The soil here is rich with histories of sacrifice and transformation.
A mere two months later, my heart still making its way through these reflections, I’m walking Wisdo in yet another day of heavy relentless rain. My neighbor with the giant white dog says to me, “Is that your brown dog running around?” “No,” I told him definitively. “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’m sure.” And he tells me that this wonderful friendly dog has been running around for days in the rain and keeps trying to get into his house. No, don’t tell me there is a dog on the street that looks like my dog without a home and wet. I have three Canaan dogs at home that will not let another creature in my house. I can’t. So I take Wisdo home and follow my conscience outside with a leash and with a guidance I can only describe as unexplainably familiar. I will at least say I tried.
One whistle and this wet fully happy free black wolf bear cub wet exuberant dog with magnificent ears and a misproportioned athletic body comes trotted out from under the charuv tree and over to me like a long overdue friend. Paamayim/twice wet. I put her on the leash and took her home with absolutely no idea what in the world I would do and convincing myself I will just keep her safe and dry until we could find her a home. It took three months to integrate her into our household and she seemed to know exactly what to do. She charmed absolutely everybody; canine and human alike.
This black wolf, shepherd like misporportioned black bear cub dog was as friendly and smart as my childhood shepherd collie Misty, wildly smart and keen like my old wolf husky Hollow, and mildly misproportioned exactly like the agile and athletic Cavebear she was not. And Charuvy seemed to know everything about me. It was eerie even. Her look and her character were a patchwork of my life with dogs. She has giant striking ears, a long, gorgeous lush plush tail, milk dipped paws, cartoon eyes, and a body just too long for her height. She is the ultimate combination dog of everything loveable, companionable and fun; and familiar.
For the first days, I tried to keep her dry outside while unsuccessfully making contraptions of dog houses and covers as she accommodated my every move. I didn’t believe I could move her anywhere near my front door without creating another Middle East crisis with the innately guarding qualities of the three Canaanis inside. Eventually, the only dry spot was right by my front door. The rest is a series of very careful gradual strategic moves by me to acclimate them, and totally claimed moments by her to move the integration forward. Somehow she finagled her way very carefully into the complex world of Wisdo, Ilu and Sof. It was nothing short of a miracle to watch her maneuver through every inch of physical space and relational space with acuity, awareness, and intelligence that far surpassed anything rational. Did Cavebear come back as a wondrously easy, divinely emotionally intelligent black wolf bear dog? Could be. We’ll never know for sure. But now I have the intimately connected, marvelously intelligent, super charming athletic therapy dog.