THE BLOG
02/25/2014 05:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2014

Who Does Your Dog Think You Are?

I have a small wooden plaque in my kitchen that reads, "My goal in life is to be the person my dog thinks I am." I suppose that when people read it they see it like a bumper sticker. Curious and meaningless. But to me, it's profound.

I have a sweet little Shih Tzu named Murphy. I don't want to be the crazy old lady down the street with the little dog, but I am kind of becoming her. I don't take him everywhere with me, but I want to. I decline to take him to a friend's house when I've been invited to dinner and Murphy's name is on the invite. I decline only because of the perception of becoming the crazy old lady down the street with the little dog, and for no other reason. I remind my self from time to time, "he's a dog, he's a dog, he's a dog."

But, as far as dogs go, he's an amazing little marshmallowy ball of joy. He has touched my heart more than almost anything else on my healing journey.

He thinks I'm worth protecting. Murphy is a lover, not a fighter. But one day on the way to the mailbox, Murphy prancing along in front of me, he turned and darted towards me. About the same time, I got nipped on my heal by the neighbor's bratty Chihuahua that never stays in his fenced yard. Before I could turn around, my little Murph man had that dog pinned up on the porch. Murphy was growling, showing his teeth and crouched down, moving in on him. I'd never seen anything like that from him before or since. He thinks I'm worth protecting.

He thinks I'm worth comforting. Murphy will sometimes go with me to my counseling appointment. If my counselor (all counselors should have a counselor) and I are doing particularly hard work, I'll bring Murphy just to help keep me present. He'll sit beside me, but the moment I get teary or upset, he gently crawls on my lap to curl up. He think's I'm worth comforting.

He thinks I'm worth loving. My happy place is my big hammock in the back yard. I can sit in the shade and look at Pike's Peak while I relax on a Sunday afternoon. Murphy does not like when I'm in the hammock alone. If I'm in the hammock and he's in the yard, he will sit underneath me whining until I pick him up and put him in the hammock with me. It takes him about four second to fall asleep in the hammock beside me. He just wants to be near me. He thinks I'm worth loving.

He thinks I'm worth missing. I have two big, dark green suitcases. They are Murphy's kryptonite. Once he sees them, he goes into a sad, droopy-tailed funk. He knows I'm leaving. I try to reassure him, but I hear his little doggie heart saying, "don't go." He thinks I'm worth missing.

He thinks I'm worth being physically close to. When I first got Murphy, I didn't know what to do with him. He was this tiny little black and white fuzz that wanted to be with me all the time. If I was doing dishes, he would sit on my feet. If I was in bed, he would snuggle next to my head. I found out very quickly how much I wasn't used to having someone in my zone. Then I found out I liked it. He thinks I'm worth being physically close to.

There was a time in my life when I thought I wasn't worth protecting. I believed I deserved to be abused, used and neglected.

There was a time when I thought I wasn't worthy of comfort. I believed I deserved to be alone in my sadness and fear.

There was a time when I believed I was unlovable and deserved to be betrayed and deceived.

There was a time when I believed I was worthy of abandonment. I felt like the missing kid on the milk carton that nobody ever went looking for.

There was a time when I believed touch meant being hurt. I believed I didn't deserve to know healthy touch.

My little Murphy teaches me every day that I am already the person he thinks I am, I just need to believe it.

If you are unsure of your worth, spend some time the most magnificent creature, a dog. They will see in you what you can't see in yourself.

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