12Mar

Why Canine Bodhisattva?

When I decided to begin a blog about life as part of a service dog/handler team, why did I choose the name “Canine Bodhisattva”?

In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is defined as an enlightened being who compassionately refrains from entering nirvana (the end of suffering, desire and the effects of karma) in order to stay behind to help others attain enlightenment. In other words, the bodhisattva puts others before self.

The bodhisattva also lives by vow. Instead of being pulled here and there by desire, this being follows the path ahead of her, remaining true to her commitment.

Each morning, when I put the blue vest on Ripley, my service dog, I watch this transformation happen. It is as if she has donned a uniform, even the robes of a monk. She stands straighter, aligns her shoulders, and waits alert at my side. Now, she says, I am ready. How can I be of service to you today?

I plan in this blog to share with you some of the things Ripley and I have learned together. Our experiences out in the world, interactions (good, bad, indifferent), resources we have come across. This will be a celebration of a partnership, an honoring of the working relationship, but I hope also a toolkit for others on similar journeys.

And yes, I am a Zen practitioner, so vow and Buddhism have influenced some of my thinking about our relationship. In addition to her other duties, Ripley has become a skilled meditator – lying next to my zabuton, she knows when the sitting session starts, and when it is about to end, often giving a yawn or stretch just before the chime goes off, much to the delight of those leading the session.

Welcome to “Canine Bodhisattva.” Both four-pawed and two-legged ones.

Michelle Wing © Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
%d bloggers like this: