Finding Cougan

Early 1970, a New England wintery mix showered into the frosty sinking woodlands. Evening darkness had long fallen near 4pm. I could hear him. Way out there… almost imperceptible – Listening… Listening…  “Did you hear that Dad?” He slowed the car as we entered the tunnel, the thick canopy of oaks, maples and white birch that hung over Ledge Road. The enchanted vortex spanned nearly a quarter mile before giving way to a glimpse of sky that peeked atop the hill where a quick curvy descent ensured momentum.

Mom’s beloved Doberman pinscher, Cougan, had broken his run once again. He was far away this time. I could feel it. Cougan routinely did not return to our beckoning calls and was more inclined to bolt in the opposite direction. He was a Nervous Nellie type of canine in that way. We had to listen for him. Listening… Listening… He had to be found.

Adopted from the shelter just months before, Mom quickly brought him back to health, with a lustrous rich coat of deep red satin. A bit pudgy around the edges, let’s say Cougan was at his full potential. Though his four stick legs held him tall, I knew his collar was likely dragging six feet of broken chain. With the thicket hefty and the temps threatening to plunge, a quandary like that could spell disaster. The consequences of not finding this short-haired oversized lap dog that night were near dire.

I just knew he was within reach. The terrain nested years of lain and freshly fallen branches braided across the unkempt fields of soft dirt and spotty swamp land bearing granite boulders. The quagmire was in essence, the quintessential briar-patch. I just knew that Cougan was probably tangled somewhere. I could feel his connection.

My parents were skeptical. It was a school night and before my 9:30 bedtime. Exhausting the local search, Dad and I jumped in the car and drove way up past Croteau’s house, calling out “Cougan! Cougan!” Turning around we re-entered the tunnel. No houses, just overgrown and forested pastures divided by dilapidated stone walls.

“Cougan! Cougan!” I called and called from the backseat window. Later learned, Dad was readying to call it quits for the night.      …the sound ever so faint, ever so far, if even there at all. “Dad, pull over here, please!” “…yip…  …yip…”  “ I think I hear him!”  “Sure Honey,” he said, turning off the engine.

We were stopped and it got quiet outside, real quiet. And then, more silence… We could hear all the natural sounds that surrounded us, the raindrops from the trees, the creaking of their limbs, the inspiring gusts whistling through space like tumbleweeds as it chilled the air. I was compelled to get out of the car and start trekking. I was drawn straight in. Off I went with Dad following close behind. “Be careful, Honey”, he said as I leaped over the stone wall, raising my feet high as my legs would allow, taking tall steps through the entanglements. Finally reaching a second stone wall, Cougan was not to be seen nor heard.

By this time Dad is getting concerned. He’s not so sure he ever did hear anything. ‘It’s pretty dark and wet out here and we aren’t dressed the part. This may be a wild goose chase!’ Attempting to reconcile a sad inevitability, I just knew Cougan was out there and we were going in the right direction. A moment later our heads raised to attention, “…Yip!..Yip!!” “ Did you hear it, Dad!?!” Excited, we both leapt to our feet with renewed enthusiasm. “Come on Honey. Let’s keep going.” Invigorated and resolute, we trekked further in with stronger knowing. Though the land could be rugged it held great beauty and peace in the dark twilight. Across the old field we spied yet another stone wall just inside the next tree-line. We halted. We called out. We listened. Listening… Listening… Listening… “…he has to be here,” I whispered to myself.

Very naturally staying open to the feeling of positivity and optimism, in a rush of energy I found him. “He’s over here!”      Cougan was certainly in a pickle. The chain was tightly embedded within the jumbled granite that wrapped around an ancient evergreen with ingrown barbed wire. He was confined in his space, unable to move right, left, up or down. He could only sit on the rock and shiver. Needless to say, Cougan was very happy to see us. His little stubby cropped tail and pointy ears were glistening wiggles. I checked his paws and sure enough, he had gashed one pad. He was just plain pitiful. We knew Cougan’s tendency may be to run once freed.  Loving on the dog in reassuring tones, Dad carried him all the way back to the car.

That night held one happy reunion, I’ll tell you. Arriving home many cigarettes later, Mom had the woodstove burning at full tilt.  Cougan got the royal treatment being dried off with a family bath towel and given his favorite digestible treat. Flattered and complimented, my Father validated my power as he recounted our adventure.  Describing his perspective of previously unfolding events he said, “If Patty hadn’t heard him, I would have never stopped. He would be lost for sure.” I was elated! I had helped in finding Cougan. I absolutely knew it was possible. I just knew it – all because, I got quiet… And, that is a really good feeling all around.


What I take away from the experience is this. Tap into the silence. Meditation is the name of the game, in all aspects of wellness.  Meditation nourishes mindfulness and cultivates the alignment with that really good feeling vibration. The evidence tangible, our life gets better and better and better.  Personally, I appreciate the ongoing benefits reaped and wisdom gleaned after spending a few minutes every day, in silent meditation. …pausing to b-r-e-a-t-h-e,   b- r- e- a- t- h- e,   b – r – e – a – t – h – e… It’s mindfulness that creeps in and makes the difference. In mindfulness, we tap into the types of answers that we prefer to see and to hear and to feel. Fun realizations and positive expectations regularly come to the foreground. Meditating consistently, the how of things always takes care of itself.

Clarity comes incrementally. Sit comfortably and gently close your eyes and breathe. Notice your breath in and your breath out. It’s that simple. Through science, we know that meditating, for just sixteen seconds at a time, holds tremendous value in our overall health and well-being, even on a molecular level. Work up to meditating for five minutes to the ideal twenty minutes a day. Meditate and appreciate. Start now. You need not wait to be in a pickle to take up a meditation practice. Though on occasion, we do find ourselves sealed in the jar. At that point we are committed to the energies’ momentum. You may as well take a nap and start again.

Sometimes, we think about the undesired and then notice that we are thinking about the undesired. Pat yourself on the back for the noticing. That’s mindfulness at work! Noticing you are noticing is a big deal! Now, you have some control. Cultivate it. The more mindfulness we develop the more we perpetuate and thrive in our personal power. It’s all good!

Leading lecturers tell us we are “pre-paving our experience.” Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Simply put, we get what we think about. Take it easy on yourself and meditate. It’s in mindfulness we naturally become a discriminating gatekeeper at the door of our own minds. Reading these words, right now, we point our focus. ‘Energy flows where attention goes.’

Meditation centers us. Watch as your joy is mirrored back to you in gratifying ways, uplifting those you touch. We are always aligning. Cultivate your flow of happiness. Dream big, you are phasing into a more desired experience. I usually ponder fun, upbeat, and feel good kinds of things. Mom would say, “It sure beats the alternative.”

It is fun noticing my thought then very quickly seeing it divinely manifest.  Recently, after finishing the kitchen chores, the picture of a new car flashed across my mind. The experience was pleasant. I thought to myself, “Oh that would be good.” Next thing a couple weeks later, not one but two new cars in the driveway!

Make meditation and mindfulness a priority in your daily routine. Keep it right up there with eating, sleeping and breathing. How easy it is to take a few seconds now to breathe-in and breathe-out. Silently meditate, letting your inner cork float. Feel yourself relaxed within the flow.

When we practice meditation, we open to feeling the grace of alignment with appreciation and love, which begets feeling the grace of alignment with appreciation and love. We are meant to feel good.         Aum… Listening… Listening…Finding Cougan and we lived happily ever after, I just knew it! It’s only natural.

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