For the first time in my life and at age 52, I am fortunate enough to own a pet. Her name is Keiki and she is a very sweet Dalmatian. Recently, I was sick with the flu and was bed-ridden for a couple of days. Keiki stayed by my side the entire time. Even when she could smell food cooking downstairs. I was amazed by her will to watch over me until I was feeling better. This is something I have never experienced in my life from animal or human.
Having grown up in a domestic violence situation, children were not cared for but rather used as pawns for the struggle. My father was both bipolar and alcoholic and my mother was as co-dependent as they come. When I was sick as a child, I was told to go to my room and not come out until I wasn’t sick anymore. Once, I broke my ankle and was told to deal with it because we don’t run to the doctor for every little thing.
I often thought I should run and make my way in the wild and perhaps find a wolf pack. I had heard wolves had a pack mentality of extreme loyalty and devotion to the group. Even in the face of hunger or danger, wolves stick together. The leader of the pack makes sure the young eat before the others. It seems my dog has that same pack mentality.
As a child, I yearned to be comforted by my parents and feel the safety of the pack. Sadly, my siblings and I had to hide in the night from the fierceness of our father’s illness and subsequent wrath. At an early age, I learned to care for myself and my younger sisters and also to be the protector.
Being so young and having so much responsibility along with living in constant fear ripped the sense of childhood wonder from me. I was always is fight mode. A new safety plan was always being formed in case the violence came to near. How I longed for the comfort of being watched over and kept safe.
Once freed from the crossfire, I still yearned for some kind of parental comfort during rough times as well as during times of joy. I feel envy when I see families together sharing and caring for each other.
Parenting my own children, volunteering in my community, working in special education and writing brings some resolution to my desire to fit in somewhere. Equally, I enjoy relationships with those a few years older than me and those who can offer good advice or even lend a shoulder to lean on.
For those affected by domestic violence or loss of parents, the searching for parental love, comfort and trust is ongoing. A wolf cub separated from the pack will eventually learn to feed itself and find shelter but will always be searching for another pack.
While my own search continues, I work on building the strength of my pack. I work to foster relationships based on trust and dependability. My Dalmatian absolutely fits this criteria. In addition to man’s best friend, it’s important to dwell with those who nurture your spirit, support your endeavors and (just like the pack leader), nourish you.