Meet Squiley. He’s the dog in the picture. He’s a fixture in El Recuerdo these days. I hear he belongs to someone, but don’t ask me who. Squiley attempted to befriend our work teams, he attempts to nose into our staff meetings and into Vida Joven club. He even showed up at the cemetery as our friends were mourning the loss of a community member. He wants to be where we are. The problem is, we don’t really trust Squiley. It doesn’t help that he bit me. So, Squiley gets nudged away, pushed aside, asked to leave.
Meet my dad. He’s the guy in the picture and he doesn’t love dogs. He didn’t love that Squiley followed him around and plopped himself down everywhere my dad was trying to work. He’s infamous for tossing our new puppy, Tootsie, clear across the room on her first day in the house.
You can imagine my surprise when I came around the corner to find Squiley snuggled up against my dad, and my dad kindly scratching behind Squiley’s scruffy ears.
My dad? Squiley? Of all the dogs…..
The more I think about Squiley, the more I realize that he’s a reflection of his community. He’s often forgotten and kicked aside. He doesn’t get much good food. He just wants to belong but doesn’t have a place. Others abuse him, laugh at him, stereotype him. He’s a surviver, he pushes through where other dogs would fold (ahem, Dave the dog). The more I think about Squiley, the more I realize he’s not a mean dog – he’s just mistreated and misunderstood.
I forgive him for biting my foot.
I’m not trying to trivialize the experiences of any person living in Zone 3. However, where people can put up a front, flash a smile, burry their emotions and pain, dogs can’t. Squiley reminds me to continue to look deeper, ask questions, go beyond the surface, not make assumptions or cast anyone off because of one sharp bite. Squiley reminds me that in order to love fully and serve compassionately I need eyes that see and ears that hear.