Six years ago, I pulled into the parking lot of the Humane Society in Dillon, Montana. I had an appointment to see a springer spaniel; when I got out of my car and looked around, there was a small, furry, black dog in an outdoor kennel by himself. He was limping, “poor thing,” I thought but when I looked back, he had jumped up to the top of his dog house to watch me.

I met the springer and she bit me. So … not a good match. I met another dog, her name was Emma! and she was a yellow lab dachshund mix. It just wasn’t the aesthetic I wanted. So I wandered around outside looking at the many, many dogs that were waiting for someone to come along and choose them. But, my eyes kept returning to that small, furry, black dog I first saw.

At the time, the Humane Society was a private shelter, and the owner came up to me and asked what I thought. “Oh!, if I could have any dog here, it would be that one,” and I pointed at him. She was shocked, she didn’t think she’d ever be able to adopt him out because of his broken, twisted leg.

The first day I met Shai in May 2013

We took him into the office and I sat on the floor with him for a long while. He let me pet him, but wouldn’t make a commitment to get too close; he was not frightened or aggressive when other people and dogs came in and out, mostly curious. And it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this little guy.

He had some kind of ridiculous romance novel name, so as I waited for him to recover from his neutering surgery, I considered lots of names and decided on Shai (pronounced Shay) which is Hebrew for gift. I sensed that he would be a gift to me, and for six years, he has been. I could not adore him any more than I do.

Shai is a tri-pawed dog – the vet suggested I have the broken, twisted leg removed so that he wouldn’t develop problems later on in life. He’s done pretty well, all in all, but stairs are a problem for him sometimes. He’s not too big (about 30 pounds) and so whenever we leave the house, I pick up him up and put him down on the ground and the same when it’s time to go back in. But …

Three legs and doing just fine

Not before he’s had a chance to taste and smell the air, to listen carefully, to look around and see what’s out there waiting for us. His friends Stevie Nicks or Beauregard? His arch enemy, Scotty McIlroy (a stray who recently wandered out of the woods and into the hearts of our neighbors)? Are the free range chickens near by? Or perhaps Amber is having a barbecue? There is so much for him to consider before moving into the outside world.

He’s not fearful, I wouldn’t even call it cautious. I have to say he is curious – he wants to sense the complete picture before making the commitment to go forth and smell the messages left by the other dogs in the community and leave his own in return. To see who’s out there to love him a bit and scratch him behind the ears before he leads me home for a cookie.

Last night, I stepped out and then reached back to get him, he stepped back. He was tasting the air, listening carefully, and when he finally allowed me to put him down, he didn’t wander too far from the stairs, certainly not even as far as the road in front of our place.

I listened, I heard an owl calling nearby, and then could hear it’s call as it flew further and further away toward the trees of the mesa. I heard the calls of small birds – and wondered, why are they awake after midnight? And I heard … sensed … who knows, perhaps I could smell it as well … something I didn’t have a name for. But my sense cautioned me not to move too far into the darkness encircling my outdoor light. I picked Shai back up and placed him back in the house.

It’s wild here … or at least, much closer to wild than most of us experience. There are coyotes and mountain lions that wander through the community and a meal is a meal. We’re all food for something and I respect that enough to stay in my realm as they wander their own.

This is a long, rambling, round about way to get to my point today. Pay attention to what you sense. We all have the ability to sense when something is off … or not quite right … or very very wrong. We know.

We know in our gut. And then we try to pretend that what we’re sensing isn’t real. Stop that! Today. Now. Our survival as a species is about to depend upon our learning to trust what our gut is telling us, our gut always tells us the truth.

Brush away your ego, brush away your fear, brush away your old patterns of thinking and believing and start to trust your inner knowing. Like Shai, taste the air, get a sense of what’s around you before you step into a new situation. (pssst … every day is a new situation).

And not only about what’s off – but also about what’s right. We have been taught to judge others based on surface values: are they attractive? do they have money? are they powerful? These are meaningless. As Frodo Baggins said of Aragon in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I think a servant of the Enemy would look fairer and feel fouler.”

What feels fair to you? Can you sense the beauty, the harmony, the peace and love beneath what might be an unfamiliar surface? Yes, you can. When you feel the fair folks, step closer and bring them into your circle.

Image result for aragorn and frodo
Aragorn and Frodo

If you want to develop your intuitive skills, I have a series here that you can work through. I have been receiving guidance on a daily basis — those of us who are ready to step up as spiritual activists must begin to take our intuitive skills seriously and polish them up.

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