Two weeks ago, we welcomed a new member of the family into our lives. His name is Buzz and we adopted him from the shelter in Tel Aviv. He is two and a half years old, and has the sweetest eyes I have ever seen.
Being a new dog owner, I was concerned when Buzz didn’t eat for the first few days at our house. I would often come home and find him under the bed and he would gaze up at me with sad and sorrowful eyes as I coaxed him to come out and say hello.
After consulting with other dog owners, I learned that it may take a while for Buzz to acclimate to his new environment and it is normal for him to be depressed and not to eat. After all, he is going through major changes, even if they are for the better.
This made me think as I have been struggling with reintegrating into my life in Israel after 2 months traveling and teaching in Canada and the US. I feel tired, irritable and occasionally anxious for no apparent reason. Something just feels off and I can’t explain it. While my first move out here was filled with excitement and enthusiasm, this time around I was faced with weeks of mail, bills to pay and errands to run. Not to mention a couple of trips to the bomb shelter the week I returned.
Yet, somehow, I expect everything to be normal right away, even though I have been through many changes this summer. Why do I give my dog more time to acclimate and have more compassion for him than for myself? After all, we are all animals and share a common nervous system. Change is a form of trauma, for better or for worse.
I think it is important for us to remember this especially when we are going through changes or transitions in life. If we understand that our nervous system needs time to adapt, we can be more patient and less reactive to the emotions that sometimes come over us unexpectedly. We can’t avoid the feelings, but we can avoid suffering. We can allow any uncomfortable feelings to move through us and know that it is a normal response to change. And we can be kind and give ourselves a break. Just like we would to any pet or loved one in the same situation.
So thanks Buzz, for the lesson in compassion. I’m sure it is the first of many more to come.