Bart wandered in our lives on a Saturday night. Strangely enough, he appeared on the eve of the day we said good-bye to Sadie. It was almost as if he knew there’d be an opening for a dog at our house and he was Johnny-on-the-spot ready to fill it. We had and now, thanks to Bart, still have six dogs …
At first glance, I thought he was a young dog. Always smiling, tail wagging, full of energy and happy, incredibly, smile-inspiring happy. A good friend and veterinarian was kind enough to make a house call and help us with Sadie. When he finished he gave Bart the once over. Turns out Bart is an old dog. His front teeth are worn to nubs. He coughs like an old man who smoked three packs of Camel no-filter cigarettes, every day of his life since birth. He’s blind in his left eye and has very limited, if any, vision in his right eye. His previous owners “lost” him. And now he’s joined a family of five other dogs – all female and one of them a brat. You’d think he’d be crabby. In human terms, he has valid reasons for a dour disposition right? But, did I mention he’s always happy?
Watching Bart stumble around the house the past six months has made me think of how his new life parallels a job search. He’s in uncharted territory; someplace he’s never been before. I’m sure he bumped around in the area surrounding our house until he found his way up our driveway. Almost like a job seeker looking for the next opportunity. We don’t train to be unemployed. It’s not something studied, but suddenly, there you are stumbling around in a place you’ve never been, frightened at what’s around the next corner and not sure exactly where you’ll end up. The security and comfort of life as you knew it, gone. Did Bart get frustrated in his search? I can’t answer that, but can assume he probably did, plowing through dense woods and rough terrain, tripping and falling. But he didn’t stop until he found the right driveway. Ours. Not bad for an old, coughing, blind dog lost in the middle of nowhere. He stuck with it and forged on. I’m sure his happy outlook got him through many briars.
Living with an active blind dog is interesting. I’ve learned many lessons watching his approach to things. He plows through the house, running headlong into things, hitting with such a thud I wince. Does it stop him? Nope. He backs up, shakes it off and changes his course just a bit. Almost as if to say, hmmmm, that didn’t work, let’s try this. Sound like a job search? This isn’t working, let’s tweak the strategy a bit and get back out there.
Lucy, my brat dog, is frequently annoyed with him bumping into to her. She growls and postures and sometimes pushes back to let him know her boundaries. Bart takes it with a grain of salt. She gets crabby; he backs up and goes a different way or waits his turn. Every now and again he pushes back. He goes with the flow, demonstrates patience when required, yet fights for himself when necessary. Sound like a job search strategy?
Bart has a deep, menacing bark, one that hangs in the air and resonates for a moment before it fades. If he’s outside and you ride past my house, I know it. He barks at anything that goes up or down “his road”. And if you dare pull in his driveway, he leaps to his feet and barks fiercely – usually facing the wrong direction – but no less convicted in his approach and belief he is protecting his people. Sounds like he’s pretty sure of his ability to protect (his skill set) and is not afraid to bark it from the mountaintops. Isn’t that how a job search ends in success, confidence in skills and a bold demonstration of said skill set?
Because he’s the only dog I haven’t trained to the Invisible Fence, up until recently, he stayed inside when no one was home. That is until he discovered we keep the dog food in the pantry. The pantry has a sliding latch that had been successful in keeping all of the dogs out, until Bart. He figured out how to push on the doors in a certain way, rendering the latch ineffective. OK. He beat the latch. Next we put a folding table in front of the doors. When we came home, he’d knocked that out of the way, and got into the food. Then we put a heavy, four-case stack of bottled tea in front of the doors. You guessed it. Pushed aside. The next time we left, we enlisted the aid of Heidi, our ferret, and put her six-foot tall cage, squarely in front of both doors. She enjoyed the ride around the kitchen and Bart enjoyed a snack once he’d moved her cage out of the way. Harrumph. What to do now? I took a six-foot leash and tied the door handles together. Hubby came home and found one of the louvered doors completely off the track, laying in the floor … and a smiling, full Bart. He now stays in the pen outside when we leave. Although, we discovered he likes to dig, not sure how long that will hold him. Oh to have that level of commitment, tenacity and focus about getting what we want in a job search or life in general for that matter.
So what job search lessons does Bart teach, just by being Bart? A happy disposition and a desire to get along will endear you to those around you. Had he been a grumpy, crabby dog, who picked fights with everyone and chased the cats I would have made a different decision about keeping him. He was in the right place at the right time because he kept trying. I’m sure he’d been up and down the road for a while. He was mighty hungry when he got here, but he kept trying until he found a welcoming home. He doesn’t let blindness, lack of teeth or a debilitating cough stop him. He backs up, changes his path, stops to hack a moment and keeps on moving. He may be an old boy, but gives off a youthful air and approaches things with a joie de vie I can only hope to duplicate. Overall, after getting to know Bart, I’ve decided we could all use a little more Bart-itude in our lives.
PS – For those concerned about Bart’s cough, it’s a sure sign his previous owners didn’t have him on heartworm prevention. The vet said, with the way he coughs and his age, he probably wouldn’t survive the treatment. He’ll live out his days here, giving and receiving unconditional love until he draws his last breath. He’s where he’s supposed to be.
UPDATE: Bart left us on October 28, 2010. Not wanting to be a bother, he quietly slipped off in to the words surrounding our home, sprouted angel wings and crossed the rainbow bridge. Your vivacious spirit and accompanying life lessons are sadly missed my boy.