You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometime, you just might find..

Do you have something that you want, maybe really want, in your life, but perhaps it’s not to be…

Can you still savor a piece of what you want…maybe a lick of the ice cream you shouldn’t eat, a whiff of the wine you can no longer drink, or a chance to cuddle babies you can no longer have?

Life can be difficult…and yet…sometimes there’s a way.

Here’s what I learned this week:

I have this thing about Springer Spaniels. I grew up with a male, Freckles, a liver-colored, long-haired, ebullient, field spaniel. My family adopted Freckles when he was three and he soon became my dog and my best friend for years. Only Freckles could understand how much I hated that bully, Maureen Paris, who lived down the street. Only Freckles could help me walk off some loneliness, as we explored the woods, him bounding after squirrels, me enjoying a special world where we were safe together. Those walks were my bliss except for the days in which Freckles found his bliss rolling in a patch of stinky skunk cabbage in the swamp near our home.

Freckles helped me survive elementary school and junior high. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that my sister, during the same period, mistakenly believed Freckles was her dog. I’m pretty sure my Dad thought Freckles was his dog as well. That’s a Springer for you, liberally spreading around the love, convincing each one of us that we were The One.

Before I was married, I decided to get a dog, and of course, it was a Springer. I chose a puppy, Lady, who came with no fancy papers but had a personality that could charm the scowl off of any neighbor she visited. Lady became the light of my life for many years. When I married my husband, Steve, Lady showered him with love and made him her special guy. When she died, at almost 15, we were devastated.

For years, I couldn’t look at photos of Springers or puppy litters, knowing that the time was not right for us to look for a new dog. We had adopted a cat, Barry, who ruled our dog-free roost. And, we soon learned, there were certain advantages to being dog-free, when it came to making short trips out of town.

Temptation strikes

But this past Christmas, as  I faced the bleak-getting-bleaker national political landscape, and the challenge of watching my mother die, I started craving some joyful, all accepting love, and found myself sneaking online to the English Springer Spaniel Rescue America (ESRA) website. For just a peak, I thought. But as I stared at the faces of those black or liver colored love-bugs, all waiting for adoption, my cravings kicked in, and once again I wanted some Springer-magic. I could almost feel a scratchy tongue licking my face and the joy of swimming in open water, a Springer at my side.

Then, I discovered a photo of a Springer cuddled up with kittens.  My heart beat faster at the sight of a dog who liked cats. Maybe, just maybe, he’d fit into our home. I approached the subject cautiously with my husband, and then applied to the Rescue Association. Within a few weeks, I had an interview, was approved to adopt, and spoke with the foster owner of the cat-loving dog I had seen in the photos.

When my husband realized that my desire was no longer hypothetical, he offered up a heavy dose of reality, asking, “How can you possibly spend an hour a day taking care of a dog? Aren’t you always talking about being overloaded?”  Yikes, he was right. Moreover, there was the big question of Barry the cat. Would it really be fair to ruin his reign?

Sadly, I asked the association to put my application on hold.

ESRA has a long list of people wanting to adopt a Springer so they were quick to ask me if I’d be willing to screen other applicants. I hesitated. That seemed like a bleak prospect: talking with other people who might get their Springers…while I couldn’t have mine.

I said yes.

But here’s what the experience of interviewing others has given me: a little bit of Springer love. No, not that scratchy tongue on my cheek. But I feel the magic when the people I interview describe their former Springer Spaniels. Our interviews extend far beyond what is required as they share their love for their dogs.  My heart melts. I’m so happy to help them find their next true companion.

I talked to a man in rural Washington who lives alone. He’s not well off, and was a little hesitant to agree to license a dog. We didn’t talk politics. But as he described how much he had loved and doted on the three springers he had owned, we bonded. I discovered, in talking to this man I would have never otherwise known, that we shared one big thing in common: we’re crazy about those dogs.

You may not want a Springer or even a dog. But there may be some area of your life where you can’t have what you want, at least right now.

Could you create a way to have a bit of what you want, if not the whole thing?

The joy of helping others find their dream dog is nourishing me with a taste of what I’m craving: Springer love.

In our over-stuffed lives, we may not be able to fit in everything we’d like to have or do. As we age, we may have to give up stuff that we’ve loved.

But we can still notice what we can have.

I always bend down and talk to the Springers I meet in the park. Sometimes I get my lick.

As the Rolling Stones taught us:

You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Today, I have the joy of helping others find Springers.

Even as I still hope, someday, for a new waggy-tailed, drooling-mouthed, addition to my life.


Three Little Foxes

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