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Rengey rules

December 30, 2021

Back in the summer, when my married daughter suggested we get a puppy to help us stop fretting about her — as many Asian parents have trouble doing — I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. Pet adoptions had become popular in the pandemic, but far be it from my wife Shoma and me to follow the herd.

Questions of practicality arose. Doubts were dismissed. We are both dog lovers and had owned dogs before. So it sounded like a natural move. One thing led to another and we ended up acquiring an adorable brown Shih Tzu we named Rengey, a word from a Buddhist prayer of peace, love and benevolence.

Six months later, we found ourselves swimming the cornucopia of love and chaos, punctuated by endless chores, that enveloped our lives when our daughter arrived in this world. What’s more, our little Buddhist monk is teaching us a thing or two about how to live our lives.

Not a day goes by when Rengey doesn’t demonstrate the importance of slowing down, nay, stopping in your tracks and taking a deep breath.

Like he does when I walk him, three times a day.

He starts by stopping for a minute in front of the door, listening for the sounds of distant planes, or cars or birds, even the silence of the night.

Soak in the moment, he seems to suggest. What’s the hurry?

Then he darts ahead, sniffing the ground and the grass, looking for a new adventure. An earthworm. An insect. A bird dropping. A dog stain.

And there’s another! 12 o’clock! A fellow canine approaches with companion. Will they play? Uh, oh! They’ve slipped out of sight. Could they be behind the dumpster? The master tugs on the leash, beckons him to head the other way. He obliges, but stops to look back. Could they still be there?

Oh the joys of trotting along! A wonder every day.

Like the morning of Christmas Eve, when he stood transfixed as flecks of wet snow fell on the blacktop. He tried following the soft confetti as it drifted down, leaping to catch a flake in midair, then licking the white blanket on the lawn.

From this young soul we have much to learn.

Unaware of the pandemic raging across the world, he feeds on every morsel of joy he can get from his owners — every walk, every treat, every toy, every tummy rub. So devoted is he to his adoptive parents, so dependent on them for everything, if they’ll only care.

He doesn’t ask for much, just a little love and kindness. In exchange, he vows lifelong affection and loyalty.

What a difference a puppy makes.

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