Doodle’s Dance

Without exception, there is an inherent soul and spirit beauty in every individual that can be seen and felt if one takes the time to notice.

As long as I can remember, I have felt connected to animals, and they have felt connected to me. In childhood, I felt like Mowgli in Disney’s The Jungle Book — I could easily understand and speak the language of animals. In fact, my best friends were animals — dogs, cats, birds, frogs, turtles. Most of my childhood days were spent outdoors hanging out with all the critters I could find. And they always found me. I have always known they were individual spirits and souls, and that they understand us far better than we give them credit for. Animals, just like people, have certain personality qualities, particular likes and dislikes, talents and skills. But did you know that animals also have enormous inner potential, too?

But did you know that animals also have enormous inner potential, too?

Just like us, they are loaded with potential to grow, not only physically, but on the inner level as well — the level where the spirit and soul exist. When I meet animals or people for the first time, I immediately feel their potential — not just “are they smart” potential, but “who they are on the inside” potential. This can’t be seen from pedigree or appearance or behavior; those are surface qualities that reveal only a partial picture. What has always interested me is who they are beyond appearances, beyond their struggles to survive or willingness to please us — who they are at the core of their being. Without exception, there is an inherent soul and spirit beauty in every individual that can be seen and felt if one takes the time to notice.

I “noticed” Doodle by accident. She made her appearance in a video that flashed across my computer quite innocently. I saw a little white dog making odd jerking, spastic motions as she walked around a room. Music played in the background, and the screen flashed, “Is this dog dancing?” Every few steps the little dog would fall, pick herself back up and teeter around the room again. I watched as she stumbled and fumbled, bumping into objects and slipping on the floor. I was captivated and had to know more, for it seemed that, though she had physical issues, she had spunk; she was a little dog with a big spirit. As it turned out, she was being held temporarily at a local shelter until a rescue could be found to care for her medical issues or her time ran out, whichever came first.

Doodle, Day One

Doodle, Day One

Something about her, a quality I couldn’t put my finger on, pulled and tugged on my heart. The next morning I headed for the shelter just to “meet” her. Yeah, right. One look at her tiny, skinny body, her back arched like a scared cat, her eyes vacant and staring into space, her hair sparse from fleas, and my heart melted. I sat on the floor with her as she did her special walk — one that can best be described as something akin to the jitterbug dance from the 40’s — complete with twirls, splits, somersaults, and acrobatic moves. The staff took turns “interviewing” me; they couldn’t figure out why I wanted to meet her much less consider adopting her. After all, they said, she was clearly handicapped. But none of that mattered to me; all I could see was her beautiful spirit. Two hours later, she and I were headed home. Sigh.

Doodle slept for a solid week. Exhausted from her journey, she would wake only long enough to eat, stumble outside and then go back to sleep. But what I noticed from the start is that she didn’t want to be held or carried outside. She insisted, like a 2 year old who says “No! I can do this myself!”, on running with the big dogs. And once she felt rested, her healing began in earnest.

This was the start of what I can best describe as a personal training program — Doodle’s way. While I can’t be sure of her former life, I do know that the communication lines between her mind and body needed to open up. When we went outside, she would freeze and then, like a little wind-up toy, slowly begin to speed up until she careened through the yard like a run-away train. Her head would pitch forward, and her body would lift up in the back. Time after time, she would tumble down the short steps and head straight after the other dogs. I think they became her beacon, like a lighthouse for her. There were, of course, no coincidences, as we were all cheering her on. The dogs patiently slowed down and would allow her to catch up.

She says, “Don’t forget to make time for ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ for you are the star of your own life. Own it!”

As the weeks passed, I noticed a remarkable improvement in her posture and in her personality. No longer did she hang her head, barely looking up. She proudly looked me straight in the eye. And she barked! It was a joyous bark, and once she heard her own voice, she loudly proclaimed to all of us, “I am here! I am whole! I am beautiful!” And then she would do what I now call “The Doodlebug Dance.” This was a joyous running in circles kind of dance, with a little side step thrown in for style. Her dance was infectious. Once she would start, the others would join in and before you knew it, she had a train of dogs behind her singing (a.k.a. barking) and dancing (trotting and jumping) with glee.

Doodle has since gained quite a following here with all of us. We look for her cue to “Jump with Joy,” “Get Down and Boogie,” and my favorite, “Do the Doodlebug.” She is a beacon herself — one that beams this message to the world: “I am whole and beautiful just like I am. You are, too.” “Be yourself,” she says. “And don’t forget to make time for Dancing with the Stars, for you are the star of your own life. Own it!”

Nowadays Doodle spends her spare time working on her first book, Dancing with Joy, and offers Doodlebug dance lessons to anyone who is interested. I don’t know about you, but I’m signing up.

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