Protect the Joyful


Almost four years ago, I was eating with friends at my favorite Japanese restaurant, when the texts suddenly came flooding in.  Mark sent me 10 pictures of a crinkle-eared, tongue-out, happy little puppy.  Then a video of him licking and jumping, cuddling and giving love.  Mark isn't exactly the puppy-picture-sending type, so I had a feeling this was something special.

We had been talking about adopting another dog as a playmate for Dixon, who was finally beginning to lose his puppy energy at age 6.  I thought it was likely to be a long discussion and a slow process, but once Mark wandered into a rescue adoption center and fell in love with this joyful puppy, it was easy!

Lindburgh cuddled in my lap from the moment we got in the car, then all the way to Malibu.  When we got home, he and Dixon chased circles around each other in the yard for hours, and cuddled like a little Yin and Yang under the kitchen table.  Their bond was effortless. 

"Lindburgh" became “Dobby,” after the warm, protective and loving character from Harry Potter.  Like his movie doppleganger, our Dobby is an example of pure heart and joy... He never runs out of love to give and never runs out of moments to receive love.  If we’re cuddling with Dixon, Wesley or each other, Dobby sees each opportunity as “his” moment.  He never gets jealous or feels left out – he just squeezes himself right in!  If he were human, he’d be one of those people – like my sweet baby brother in law – who sees two of his best friends taking a photo without him, and instead of feeling unwanted, he wiggles himself happily right in.  Wait!  You want me in there :).

Mark once told me about a prayer that includes protecting the joyful.  I love that concept so much, and Dobby really shows us what it means.  Too often the world is negative... or "real" as we often call it.  Expressing that level of joy isn’t something that most of us are comfortable with.  We constantly question ourselves if it’s weird or inappropriate to express our love.  We’re called “weird” if we’re really vibing with something, or are suspected of being "up to something" if we are too nice.  Where have we learned that expressing an abundance of love and joy is not okay?  

What if we looked out for beings who beam with love and – instead of thinking, "Who drank the Kool-Aid?” – we hugged them completely when they hugged us, scratched their bellies when they flop around on their back, and allowed them to express all the happiness they see in the world?  Instead of trying to spoil their magic, what if we tried believing just a little ourselves?

The joyful have such an intuitive way of expressing love...  When my best friend spent the night after losing her dog to old age, Dobby ran down the stairs, headed straight for her on the couch, and cuddled, licked and nuzzled right into her.  It was so sweet it made both of us tear up.  When I was pregnant and woke several times throughout the night, he’d follow me around as if to say, “I’m here for you.  We’re going through this together.”   One of my fondest memories was at 4am on the day I went into labor.  I woke up with cramps and went to the kitchen to have a snack.  Dobby followed me downstairs, and cuddled up to my belly as I ate toast and drank tea.  I think he knew something exciting was about to happen.  

Dobby is  our constant reminder to keep things light, playful and, loving.  That attitude was the perfect preparation for having Wesley – our newest joyful one – and to help us take a step back from some of the stresses a new baby brings.  Let's protect the joyful in our lives, and perhaps we can even absorb some of their warmth and lightness to be more joyful ourselves.