Loving Into Wholeness


It has been just over a week now since Tune has come into our life.  If you had told me ten days ago that I would now be completely smitten with a nearly ten-year-old dog I would have been very surprised.  These are the things that can happen when you allow the Spirit to lead and open your heart to hidden treasure.  It feels especially significant to me that we first met her on the feast of Epiphany for she has been a great gift.  We were going to wait until after our big trip this summer to adopt a new dog, then we found Tune and were going to take her in temporarily, but now I can’t imagine anyone else getting the privilege of nurturing her during these winter days of her life.

Cathleen from Back Road Journey wrote a comment on my post last week about the Winter God that has really been stirring within me the last few days as I am present to the wonder of this new creature and the love she so freely offers.  Cathleen wrote: “Perhaps this is the season to consider what needs “fostering” in our lives, what part of our hearts and souls have been neglected or abused and now need the tender love and care that you are offering to your foster dog.”

Tune, which I have decided is short for Petunia, is just a sweet little love of a dog.  She wants nothing more than to be in our presence, preferably draped across our laps.  It breaks my heart when I think of the life she has spent without much personal attention, essentially used for what her body can offer as a breeder.  Then when she was too old to perform her function anymore, she was tossed aside.  She is very nervous and shy in new situations, but once she starts to trust, she becomes a playful, loving, and devoted companion.  She may live for a year or another five, but my deepest hope for her is that she can soak in all the love she can.  Perhaps we can help love her out of her fears and back into wholeness.  Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I freely submit myself to the wisdom of other creatures and so have also been referring to her as Abbess Petunia.  Our Abbey needs an Abbess after all, and Tune models a life of rest, play, loving, and gratitude that is a great reminder for my sabbatical time.

It makes me think of the ways I have been loved into wholeness in my own life.  Meeting my husband over 14 years ago and being loved by him so completely and unconditionally went miles to help me heal from the messages of my alcoholic father.  I am able to become more fully myself in his loving gaze and I hope my love offers the same in return. 

To be cherished in this life is a gift beyond measure and one I would wish for every single living creature.  To love others in such a way that they know they are already whole and beautiful is a sacred thing, perhaps the only really important thing we do in this life. 

So back to Cathleen’s comment, as we nurture Tune with love and remind her of what a dog’s life should be, I am also aware of those places of my own life that have gone neglected for too long and need some loving attention again. Tune is calling me into a most tender love for her, and in the process I myself am becoming more whole as well.

What in your life needs to be fostered again?  Where do you need reminding of your incredible, beautiful wholeness?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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19 Responses

  1. Hooray! How wonderful for all of you.

    “Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.” I don’t remember who said that, but my husband and I have certainly found it to be true. When we brought Amie home from the shelter two years ago, our vet thought she was at least ten years old, but wouldn’t guess past that. She may be about twelve to fifteen. I am sure you will have the same satisfaction we’ve had with Amie, as you watch Tune grow healthier and happier and know that you are as much of a blessing to her in her “golden years” as she is to you. I’m so glad you found one another.

  2. Thanks Milton. Very true, I don’t think there is any other path. What a beautiful story about your daughter. Imagine the healing she might otherwise never have experienced. Blessings to you, Christine

  3. What a wonderful image coming through your words and the pictures of your new pup. I don’t know of another way to wholeness other than love. We have a foster daughter whose life was much like Tune’s who didn’t believe anyone meant it when they said “I love you” when she first came to be a part of our family. We have watched her grow in love and become more whole and more loving, moving along the journey we are all making.


  4. How adorable Susan! It is ANOTHER SNOW DAY here in Seattle! This is my husband’s fifth canceled day of teaching since late November (plus one late start day). Such strange weather, it is lovely to look at though and in a bit we are going to go play in the park.

    Thanks Bette, such a delightful and unexpected gift she is, and she does end up in some of the funniest poses.

    Blessings! Christine

  5. Petunia! Its a perfect full name for Tune. Sometimes I call my daughter “Petunia”. These pictures of her really show her sweetness and the bliss she finds in you. I adore the way she is pushing her head into that green pillow and the way she covers her nose with her paw in the last photo. I’m glad you can cherish each other! Definitely each others’ Epiphany. And Cathleen’s insight is “in Tune”.

  6. She is a minature poodle. Such a funny old thing! She is totally deaf and has cataracts but she does well. Can go up and down the stairs and her “smeller” is working well…because of this dog finding chocolate in women’s purses and other unsuspected places, we have had a close friendship with poison control! She is alpha dog…has one tooth and scares the “little dog” who is about an inch taller and a Maltese.

    I am so glad you are spending lots of snuggle time with Tune! What a sweetheart! We are at about one degree F outside…I need those snuggles to keep warm! How is Seattle?

  7. Thanks Susan! Wow 20, that is quite old for a dog, what kind is she? And Tune slept in her own bed for the first five days and now is firmly ensconced in ours. Life is too short not to enjoy as much snuggling as possible!

  8. What beautiful thoughts! I think dogs are specially created to love us into wholeless. I am blessed with Chryssie (almost twenty) and Sophie (three) who both sleep with us (yes, I know they probably belong in their own bed but neither of us can give up the joy of a fuzzy being next to you.

    I, too, have been loved unconditionally by a gentle, accepting man (married now for thirty-three years). It has helped to heal by own alcoholic/abusive father messages. It’s pure grace to get this second chance at life.

    Thanks, Christine. I am feeling very grateful for my life.

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