This Moment Is All That Matters – We Will (Soon) Run Out.

Mornings With Minjay Michelle Chahine Sinno

In the third installment of Minjay’s birthday week lessons, I’m attempting to put into words his deep wisdom on change, aging and mortality.

The soul is a thing you can see.

A couple of years ago, when he was around four, we were sitting in our favorite spots on our couches, me curled up on the left arm of our gray two-seater. Minge curled up in his white armchair. I think I was watching television or reading, and he was sleeping. He awoke and looked up, looked at me, and I looked at him. And I was startled because… I recognized him.

That might sound silly. Recognized him? I saw him every day. Most workdays, at the time, I was home all day with him writing. How could I “recognize” someone I was with every day. But the thing is, in that quiet moment, I saw him for the individual he was, with his own character and his own presence, and his own soul. (The souls of animals is something much smarter women and better writers than I, like Dr. Jane Goodall and Sy Montgomery, have explored and tried to describe.) This is one of the harder lessons to put into words, but I’ll keep working on it!

Minjay Michelle Chahine Sinno

This moment is all that matters – we will (soon) run out.

Not to be morbid, but I think of this every day. And ever since he was three years old, I’ve been very aware of being in the moment, because that was when I first realized he was growing older: He was no longer a little puppy, and there would be a day when I would have to say good bye to him.

Every walk, every cuddle, every morning is precious. And it’s not that I’m worried about losing him (though I certainly am, already), it’s about knowing just how valuable every
moment is, in a way that is all too easy to take for granted in our busy modern lives. But I don’t anymore, thanks to
Minjay.

Things are going to change. We are going to age. That’s OK.

When I first saw signs of Minjay aging, I freaked out—feelings that reached a peak during the horrible surgery he had to endure last year. Once he recovered, and taught me a whole Minjaylist of lessons on resilience (we’ll leave those for another day), he taught me that it was OK. Though part of
me wanted to reminisce about his puppy endless, boundless energy, and was sad that he had slowed down a bit, there were so many wonderful things that came with that slowing down. We could now sit together in coffee shops, and even though he’d jump up to greet everyone who passed eagerly, he was calm, sure of himself, still and happy to enjoy just sitting outside together. At home on the couch, he started to jump up and snuggle his face into my lap, something he never did as a puppy. There were all these facets of him I was getting to see, facets that only came with his maturing and age, and wonderful new moments and lessons to experience. And as we age together, and grow up together (and he raises both me and my husband to be better humans), our bond grows deeper. And I wouldn’t change that for a thing. Because he’s perfect today, just the way he is. (And, he teaches me, so am I).

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Just Sit on the Floor, Next to Someone You Love.

Be the Person your dog thinks you are michele chahine sin no

Continuing the special series for Minjay’s birthday week. Today, lessons on love:

Love everyone and everything. Say hi to everyone you meet, and assume they are the best. (But retreat quickly if they’re mean to you).

Minjay is not only the happiest dog in the world, but he’s also the friendliest dog in the world. If he had his way (and he usually does), he would stop and say hello to every single person that we pass on our walks, snuggle his head inside every stroller, play with every dog, big or small, old or young.

MinjayWith most dogs, he does the sweetest thing by laying down flat on the floor as a gesture—‘I mean no harm, just want to play!’

I’m often surprised that he even continues to approach dogs we’ve seen before, that were less than friendly, and tries to say hello every time. Sure, he’s cautious, and pulls away or simply moves on if a dog, or person, is unfriendly. But he gives everyone a chance, wants to say hi to everyone, and assumes, in general, the world is a wonderful place. His basic assumption is that people and dogs are great, and then he adjusts if they’re not—rather than the other way around. I now try to emulate him in how I interact with new people I meet, even if it’s someone I might just be seeing for a few minutes, like while checking out at the grocery store, for example.

Just sit on the floor, next to someone you love.

Last year, a couple of months before Minjay’s fifth birthday, he had to have knee surgery. It was heartbreaking. There’s no other word for it. It was so painful to see something so innocent and good in so much pain. The first few days, when he was hurting and confused, I didn’t know what to do. There was, in fact, nothing I could really do to help except give him his medicine. So I would just sit with him on the floor, as close to him as possible. And it was enough. He would wag his tail ever so gently. It was a soft sweep on the floor really because he was so tired and couldn’t move, letting me know he was grateful. That was all it took, just being next to him on the floor.

Ever since then, my favorite spot to do my work is on the floor next to him. Or after a long day, when I get home, I just lie down and pet him quietly while he wags his tail.

We don’t really need much more, at our core, than being right next to someone we love.