воскресенье, 31 марта 2013 г.

The Ugly Pupling

By Angel Di Benedetto

In the spring of 1980, I was living in Woodstock, New York, when my Tibetan terrier dog, Shadow, had a litter of six puppies.
The one pup I couldn't sell was considered homely. Tibetan terriers are known for their lustrous double coats. The underlayer of their coat is thick and cottony, while the outer layer resembles human hair — silky and shiny. This combination makes for a very fluffy look. People also prize their well-proportioned faces. This pup had neither trait. She had a rather long nose and a terribly unattractive coat. She had no underlayer, and this made her topcoat look thin, flat and wiry. It gave her the appearance of a tramp just coming in from the rain. People who came to see her would say, "She seems like a pleasant dog," they'd say, "but she looks kind of scraggly and ugly." No one wanted our little friend, not even for free!

What amazed me was that no one recognized this dog's rare quality. She was by nature always very happy, and although most puppies are happy, she had an unexplainable inner joy about her, a sixth sense, a certain spiritual presence, as if she could read your mind and move you to a more contented place.

In June, I still had the pup with the perpetual "bad hair day." I was going back to school in less than a week and I felt hesitant to leave without finding her a proper home.

One night an idea came to me. There was a Tibetan monastery about a mile from my home, and I'd been there a few times to participate in their meditations. I'd even introduced myself to some of the Tibetan monks living there. Maybe someone there would be willing to adopt her. It was worth a try.

The following morning, I took my little friend to the monastery. When I arrived, a lot of cars were in the parking lot. I thought, Gee, this place has always been so quiet. I wonder what's going on? I got out of the car with the pup in hand and went up the stairs to the familiar front doors. I entered the foyer and found people lined up wall to wall, apparently waiting for something to occur beyond the hand-carved interior doors. Then I saw a familiar face — one of the monks I'd met on a previous visit. When he saw me holding the dog, he gave me a wide grin and said, "Ah, follow me now!"

He pulled on my sleeve and dragged me to the front of the line. Using what appeared to be a special code, he knocked on the door. The double doors swung open and we were greeted by another monk. The first monk whispered something in the second monk's ear, then the second monk also said, "Ah." With that, the pup and I were pulled to the front of yet another line of people, all bearing gifts of fruit, candy, plants, odd bowls and handmade crafts.

I turned to face the front of the room and there before me was a very bright and cheery-eyed fellow, dressed to the hilt in red and golden-yellow velvets. He glanced at my puppy, then directly at me. Then he put his hands out, fingers open, and said, "Yes, yes. Oh, yes." This magnificent-looking person placed a red string around my puppy's neck, sang a foreign chant, and proceeded to place a second string around my neck. He continued his chant while slowly lifting my puppy from my arms. He carefully embraced her within his velvet robe. He then nodded and bowed, saying something in a foreign language. He tapped me on the head and turned around as he walked toward his chair, still holding my puppy in his arms.

The monk who brought me into the room now quickly ushered me out. In the foyer, met by other monks, I was swept through the halls, pup-less and out the front door of the monastery. I was asked to stand at the top of the steps and wait until further notice.

At this point, a wave of maternal concern moved through me. Where is my dog and what will happen to her? I thought. Turning to a Buddhist onlooker for understanding, I related the events of the last fifteen minutes.

He smiled and explained that I had met the "Karmapa," a monk who is quite high in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition — second only to the Dalai Lama. He told me that I was very fortunate because today the famous and beloved Karmapa was here from Tibet to bless this monastery along with its surrounding land. People from all over the world had come to pay him their respects, but rarely did anyone enter into his private receiving room. To enter there and be blessed by His Holiness, and then for him to accept my generous gift, was an auspicious event, one that rarely happens in a lifetime! He shook his head, "You must have earned a lot of merit in past lives; you are very fortunate, my dear." Closing his eyes, he pondered for a moment, then added, "Then again, perhaps it is your dog's good fortune!"

At that moment the door flew open again, and this wondrous Buddhist monk exited from the building and down the red-carpeted exterior steps, holding his head up high while greeting the people. Women and children gathered around, holding baskets of flowers to throw at his feet.

I was so caught up in the magic of it that I didn't notice her at first. But then to my surprise, I saw my pup — the pup that was considered ugly — now looking like a beautiful star! The Karmapa held her up high with what seemed to be the greatest of pride, and the crowd roared with delight. I would swear that the puppy appeared to be smiling, too.

From that point on, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. They continued down the stairs. Slowly they entered the waiting black limousine. Through the closely-hovering crowd, I caught my last view of the dog and the monk, glimpsing them through the tinted-glass windows. Something in the way they sat together told me she was going to be all right. It wasn't just that she was with the Karmapa; it was the way she sat on the lap of the Karmapa. They seemed to have gained a great deal of respect and trust for one another in a short period of time. The limousine drove them away, leaving behind a path of colorful rose petals.

After that, the monks at the monastery kindly kept me posted on her adventures and whereabouts. Over the years, I heard that the Karmapa traveled all over the world with his Tibetan terrier. The sight of her funny face always brought him and others a feeling of joy, and therefore, he gave her a name that translates from the Tibetan language as Beautiful Happy One. She became his friend and devoted companion, and they were rarely apart during her entire lifetime.

Once considered an ugly puppy, few appreciated what she possessed, yet from the moment she was born, she emanated happiness. It was as if she knew she'd eventually meet her wonderful friend, the Karmapa, who would recognize her true beauty and love her great soul.


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