Butterfly flits around like a ladybug. I always think she should be wearing ballet slippers and a tutu, the way she twirls and flies. She is gossamer. Her wings are so ethereal that they are almost invisible. Almost.
She doesn’t seem to be like any other dog I’ve known. I’m used to moody dogs, dogs with personality problems, dogs who use guilt to push me around, dogs who could be diagnosed using the DSM V. But Butterfly is a different. She poops and barks and begs for treats, yes, but she’s also untouchable in a way, so sweet as to be unreal.
In a way her butterfly-ness is upsetting, because she is always a bit out of reach. Cricket will jump on me and curl up on my chest, or my hip, while I’m sleeping. She scratches me and shrieks in my ear. She is solid and real and in vivid color. Butterfly is something other than that, an enigma at times, in deep thought about something I can’t know.
When Butterfly’s sugar is very low, she seems as light and airy as a butterfly; within moments she seems to lose most of her body weight; this is the most frightening thing, both for her and for me. Her eyes bulge and she alternates between staring into space and looking at me and shaking. She doesn’t know what to do. Even she thinks this is too much lightness to bear.
I feel so much safer when she is solid in my arms, or galloping down the hill. Then she is real and alive and none of her paws are reaching towards another world. But there is always this tendency to unreality with her. She drifts away, either because her physical health is shaky, or, more often, because she is lost in another state of mind, thinking of some other place, or thinking of nothing at all.
My mom was kind of like this when I was growing up. When she was present, her love was obvious and full of joy, but then she would disappear, either leaving the house or just leaving her body, and there was no way to reach her. I always wanted to hug her, or yell at her, to bring her back to life, and to me. Mom also has the same sweetness and generosity of spirit as Butterfly, where you can’t quite believe how lucky you are to be loved so much.
I know that Butterfly loves me. When we go outside and she runs off for a minute and turns back, the joy in her face at seeing me, and the flying run she takes to return to me, is extraordinarily good for my self-esteem.
But she can be very independent. If she doesn’t want to be crowded, she’ll just walk away and find a place to be alone. When Cricket does this, she chooses a place nearby, where she can stare at me, and let me know that I have disappointed and annoyed her. But when Butterfly wants to be alone, it’s not about me; she’s not angry at me, or jealous of Cricket, or pouting, she just wants to be alone: on the mat by the front door, on the rug in my room when I’m not there, on the bathmat in the bathroom.
It would almost be better if she was reacting to something I’d done, because at least then I’d feel like I mattered.
It’s possible that a lot of things in my life have had this fleeting, ethereal quality to them, and I write it all down to capture it and remind myself that it was real and not just my imagination. I worry about that, about losing wisps of my life into the air as if they never happened, losing people and memories and emotions because I wasn’t quick enough to tie them down and secure them before the rains came.
I love Butterfly all the time, whether she is close and present, or dreamy and far away. But the pull of grief when she’s flitting away can be incredibly painful. There’s a reason why most people don’t have butterflies as pets.
Butterfly is beautiful. Enjoyed learning of her personality.
I’m so glad!
IS VERY WELL… I’M HAPPY. YOUR TRY TO…
Cricket is such a riot. She wants you to know she’s grumpy…..oh, Cricket! But you know, I like my alone time. And it has nothing to do with not wanting to be around people; I just want to be by myself. Butterfly’s years before you rescued her play a lot into things–do they come into play the way they do for people? Different personalities, but each one loves you for you. Maybe it’s not HOW they love, but THAT they love, Rachel. And maybe you just gave Butterfly the most perfect name.
The name fit her right away. At the shelter they were calling her Betsy. She just didn’t seem like a Betsy to me.
I see a happy monk within your butterfly~
She is very big into meditating, it’s true. And the smile that breaks out on her face sometimes could shatter any heart.
OMG! That’s what I thought, too! A Zen master! A happy one at that! 🙂
Rachel, sometimes when I read your posts I have to step back and just think about the pictures you paint with your words. Your posts are both moving and thought provoking. I am always excited to see an email announcing a new post, expecting magic yet wondering how your posts can so consistently evoke that magic. Your brain must be on 24/7 (and I mean that in a good way). All I can say is Thank You. Peggy
Wow! You are very kind. I wish my brain could work constantly like that, but I have these long stretches of nothingness, maybe not nothingness, more like muddiness. That’s what forces me to try to make the mud come clear.
My Murphy was like that. Here but not. His otherworldliness made me feel so special I was his person. Now he is gone and I miss everything. But I do have my memories that become stronger as the sadness clouds disappear. Your puppies are dear, beautiful creatures! You describe them and your feelings in such a lovely way.
Thank you! I took Butterfly to visit a friend who hasn’t been feeling well, and Butterfly was so anxious she could only sit on my lap and pant. I was hoping to share some of her healing qualities, but it occurred to me that maybe her healing energy is something we create together, between us, rather than something she can create on her own.
I worry about the same thing – I think it’s why I started writing books.
I love Butterfly, too.
Isn’t writing a lifesaver?
Yes – and so are my dogs.
Such a deep, thoughtful post. I could relate to what you were saying about Butterfly wanting to be alone, by herself and how that feels. My dog would do that too and I would take it as a personal affront. It felt like rejection. Writing things down helps keep our memories alive, those special moments we always want to hold dear. Keep writing 🙂
I feel like every time I read a post of yours there is always something that touches on exactly what I am feeling or thinking in a very profound way.
The part about writing things down to prevent memories drifting away into the air…that is EXACTLY how I feel about my own memories, exactly why I feel such a compulsion to write everything down, to try and preserve everything…and yet I could never articulate that feeling as clearly and as beautifully as you just did.
I’m so glad! And thank you!
Beautiful but off target. You have the ability to pull a black cloud out of a silver lining. Butterfly is a gift to cherish in all her moods, just like your mom and yourself.
They all have such different personalities, don’t they? I had three Siamese cats and I couldn’t believe how different they each were. The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher I understand more are different because of their breed temperaments. But the cats were all Siamese and so very different. I enjoy reading when you write about one of the dogs and how they are. It helps me understand mine better.
These creatures are so complicated, and when I try to ask them questions, they don’t bother to answer. I just have to make it up as I go along.
On the other hand, there are times when they tell you very clearly what the their expectations are!
Such essential things you write about here! How much reflection we give and get back from those we love.
Thank you Rachel,
Your comments about Butterfly and your Mom really struck a chord with me connected to my own silky terrier Lila and my Mom. Thank you for the insights.
Excellent written and wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.
You really know your dogs. This piece is profound and brilliantly finished. The similarity with your Mom is fascinating. Thank you Rachel
Thank you for such wonderful compliments!
Love both of your dogs, but Butterfly truly lives up to her name after reading this today. 🙂
Thank you, and I agree!
The name Butterfly was made for this wonderful pup :o)
With 6 current animals at the zoo, and 30 over the years, I must say they all have their way of showing who they are. We humans tend to try to figure them out in our terms, when maybe you need to figure you out, in her’s. I used to give my love to others in the way that I wanted to be loved, and then I realized, the best love I could give was in the way the receiver needed it from me, not necessarily how I needed from them. So Lulu mopes and wants to be on the other side of the room and Sofie want to be under my feet (but not touched). You are a perfect Butterfly parent. – Lorian of DogDaz
Butterfly has been very good about telling me what she needs and when she needs it. And she’s patient with me when I think I know better.
You write so beautifully about your dogs. I especially loved this bog post.
Thank you so much!
I love reading your posts about dogs. The dogs are a reminder of what it’s like to be honest all the time.
The crazy thing is that they don’t have to try to be honest, it just comes naturally.
Our animals are our joy and, when they leave us, our sorrow. But we must have them in our lives to love even when that sorrow waits at the end of their road. Beautiful post.
I just love seeing your dogs!
Lovely post! The joy that dogs express when they catch sight of their carer(s) is heartwarming!
Butterfly is gorgeous 🙂
She gets a lot of beauty sleep!
I especially love the photo of Butterfly, thinking… I’ve tweeted this post, and two others. 🙂
this is beautiful, and makes me love your dogs, and your relationship with them….
I’m sure I’ve said this before (and if I haven’t I should have) but I just love your posts! This one is particularly thought provoking.
Thank you so much!
Reblogged this on hugmamma's MIND, BODY and SOUL and commented:
…beautifully written…of cherished pets…and loved ones…and our insecurities…real or imagined…
Thank you so much!
Such a well written story, Rachel, like literary candy. It’s sweet too, full of love. I know the dreamy state – Bumble does that too nowadays, he can be miles away standing still, looking into space and contemplating some deep things.
Literary candy!!!!!!! I love that!
Your Butterfly sounds alot like my Sophia–the friendliest, sweetest companion dog. She too likes to occasionally make her own decisions and be on her own. When we return from a ride and walk, she won’t leave the car until I go inside and close the door, leaving the light on in the garage and the car door ajar. Then a minute or so later I will open the door and there she will be!
Oh my goodness! That is one independent puppy!
“Butterfly” is the most perfect name for her. She is so mystical in the way you describe her. 🙂
She’s my zen puppy!
Beautiful dog. She has the appearance of a feather. Good piece. 🙂
I’ve always wondered if one of her parents was a bird!
Butterfly and Cricket are adorable! Hugs
I wonder if Butterfly is teaching you your lesson for life, that love is unconditional and you cannot hold it and clasp it to you, you just have to feel it, you can’t make other beings feel the same way, Butterfly is seeking her own space this does not mean she doesn’t love you my Poppy disappears to her bed in my room when I am on the computer or doing my crafts she has a nap and then when I go to bed or sit on an easy chair with my hot chocolate out she bounds to sit on my knee. Don’t be sad, enjoy every bit of joy and laughter that Butterfly brings.
These are tough lessons to learn, but I am working on it. Butterfly is a very good teacher.
The pictures Cricket and Butterfly are really amazing. Photography is not a skill I have and I wish I had such wonderful pictures of my own pets.
Cute dog! and I could feel how you love the Butterfly:))
We have a “butterfly” cat. 14 months in after rescuing him, he still interacts with our oldest cat only. But, step by step we progress. Lovely articulation, Rachel ~
Beautiful piece of writing. 🙂
Thank you so much!