An Imperfect Beauty – Bartholomew’s Story
By: Sarah Javier, Executive Director | June 14, 2018
“No amount of physical beauty will ever be as valuable as a beautiful heart.” – Ustadh Saad Tasleem
Wabi-sabi is an Eastern philosophy most easily described as discovering the hidden beauty in imperfection. When working with animals, we find that almost every pet has outward beauty and an adorable way about them that is hard to resist, however, sometimes we need to look a little bit deeper, to practice wabi-sabi, in order to find the beauty within. That is the case with Bartholomew, or as he is affectionately referred to by our team, Pup-pup.
Pup-pup came to us when his owner’s family, who had more than 20 dogs in the home, realized that they were unable to properly care for him. With help from our transfer volunteers, Pup-pup and 14 other small dogs made their way to the APA.
Upon first look, Pup-pup isn’t what one would define as ‘beautiful.’ His splotchy face is bare in spots and his tongue consistently protrudes from the front of his mouth. His body has several large patches where hair no longer grows, including his tail, which looks long, scaly and rough. Unfortunately, Pup-pup’s demeanor wasn’t much prettier when we initially met him. It was quickly apparent that during his life he was not very well socialized and was uncomfortable with new people and surroundings. He was fearful of anyone who attempted to touch him and met their attempts at affection with quick snips.
It is possible, and even probable, that many would have given up on Pup-pup, but through the course of working with tens of thousands of animals over the years, we have learned that sometimes the beauty within an animal surfaces over time. Every pet wants to be loved, but allowing oneself to be loved is sometimes hard. At the same time, understanding and patience can do amazing things.
Understanding that Pup-pup needed socialization, one of our team members took Pup-pup in as an office foster. Each day, she gently greeted Pup-pup, carefully removed him from his kennel and let him spend the day in her office. She didn’t push him to interact, but slowly he realized that he was safe and could trust her. As time passed, he began to move to the front of his kennel and greet her in the mornings. Eventually, he even approached her and waited for her to lift him into her lap, which soon after became his favorite place.
Today, Pup-pup was adopted. He is still shy and slow to warm up, but his heart has softened and it is clear that he, like everyone, simply wants to be loved. He isn’t perfect. Outwardly, he looks much the same, although he seems to be just a bit more relaxed (or at least we can tell he is trying). What is important is that he has a good heart, wants to accept the love of others and is willing to give those around him a chance. With a little wabi-sabi, we can see his beautiful heart and the dog he is destined to be. It seems he has also been able to see the beauty within humans. And that is a beautiful thing for everyone.