My entire life we had been told we were part Native American and so when many of us finally started getting our DNA done we were surprised to not find any mention of Native American.
What surprised us was the percentage of Irish, Scottish, and English in my DNA. Forty percent! Then my sister did paper research and came up with the ship’s manifest showing my ancestor being given as an under two year old to another family to take him to America so he didn’t die in the famine.
We knew we had African blood in us but we didn’t know the source or the story. Thanks to DNA testing we found we had roots in West Africa from several different countries. Once again, my sister’s paper research paid off and she found the pension papers from when our ancestor ran away from the plantation where he had been fathered by a German Jewish master and a slave. He was killed fighting for the North and his slave wife had done the pension request.
Learning about my past answered a few questions and made me flash back on a memory from 1976 when I arrived for my two year stint in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa.
I had lived in Brazil and traveled to many places in America and around the world. But when I got off the plane in Mali it was almost magically eerie. I felt like I knew this place. Like I had lived here before which was impossible.
Fast forward to 2018 when I looked at my multi-colored DNA chart and things fell into place. Though there were several African countries represented most percentages were quite small. Until I got to Mali. It turns out I am ten percent of Malian descent. I think that is why I felt so connected, so happy and at peace during my years there.
I wonder how it is that we looked at several dogs before we adopted Coconut and there was no connection with me? They were cute and happy and easy to love I’m sure. But they didn’t seem to care about me at all.
The minute my little brown dog scampered into the room he only had eyes for me. We think he was owned before and had possibly run away and had to chip or collar. But he came right to me and sat and stared at me like he was summoning up some long buried memory. Like he was filled with hope for the first time in weeks or months.
He had a hacking cough and was only twenty-two-pounds though now he is a healthy thirty-five. His coat was not soft and healthy. He had been there for three weeks and no one except a volunteer had expressed interest in him at all. But somehow, this pooch connected with me. Had his owner been middle aged, or brown, or had a few too many extra pounds? Had her hair been short, did she have a voice like mine? We will never know.
But I like to believe that our instantaneous bond started long ago before I ever moved to Wisconsin, before I ever decided to look into getting an emotional support dog. Just like I believe my DNA and the struggles and joys of my ancestors made me into the woman I was destined to become.
How about you? Are you waiting for that special love, that bond that can not be manufactured? We have so many dogs right now who want to love and be loved. Let a dog choose you. It doesn’t have to be complicated or messy. Be open to the right dog and not the dog you think you want.
I was at the dog park the other day and a lady mentioned she had been looking for a dog now that she lived in a place that allowed her to have one. I asked her what kind and started sharing about all the different kinds of dogs we have. I don’t think she will ever find that elusive dog based on her comments.
“I want an Cattle dog and the left eye must be blue, the right green. I only want a boy and he has to have freckles on his nose and legs. I want a bushy tail and an ear that flops down and the right one has to stand up.”
I asked her was that a picture of a past dog and it was her childhood dog. The odds of her finding THAT dog are likely impossible. The odds of her finding a terrific dog to fall in love with, one who will make her say, “I loved you from the very first moment we had and I promise I will love you until the last,” are pretty darned outstanding if she will allow herself to give up that picture.
I don’t think she’ll find it because she wants to duplicate a dog that can’t be duplicated.
But you can find a special dog, one who makes you feel this way, and one who loves you even more.