Having Joy in my life
I’ve always felt a connection with animals – they seem to like me, to follow me around naturally. As a child, I always had cats as pets, plus a rabbit and a fish. Later on, when I moved to Ibiza, I adopted cats once again, and even made friends with a little horse who lived next door to me in the campo. He’d run with me when I was outside, it was really nice!
Then late last year, I started going on weekly Sunday walks with one of my friends, Carlos, who is a dog trainer and also a student at Hot Yoga Ibiza. He always had about eight dogs with him and I really liked the energy around them. After quite a few weeks of walking, the thought kept popping into my brain: ‘I think I want to get a dog!’
I knew it was a big decision to make, almost like having a child! Although I already had the responsibility of owning cats (and the responsibility of running a studio!), they are independent creatures. Once you adopt a dog, there’s no going back – you have to be there for them always and you need to be attuned into their needs – is it time for food, for a walk, for a run, to swim, to sleep? You need to constantly be aware and to be disciplined.
The first time I saw Joy, I had no idea she would end up being my companion. She came on the walks with us, and I thought she was very beautiful, but I was thinking about getting a Japanese Akita. It turned out they are considered a dangerous breed, which didn’t really fit with my idea of having a pet that could come with me to the studio, and everywhere else on the island and so I opened my mind to adopting a dog from the island.
And then Carlos suggested I take Joy. She wasn’t a puppy – she’s around four years old, and she’d been with Carlos for almost a year already. She had been abandoned by her previous owner, who had sent her for training and then never returned to pick her up, for whatever irresponsible reason.
He assured me I didn’t have to commit, that he could take her back if we didn’t feel a connection, and so I spent a week visiting with her every day at the beginning of the year, starting to take her out on walks by myself. Of course, in the beginning she didn’t listen to me – she was probably thinking, who is this guy? On the final day, when I opened my car door to see if she’d come home with me, she bounded in there – she had accepted me.
She was already called Joy – I didn’t change her name. I thought it was a beautiful name, and she really has brought a lot of joy into my life. It was really easy for her to assimilate into my home, the cats accepted her (after a few little hisses, they learned who was boss) and it was very easy for me to make space for her in my life.
She has changed my life in the sense of being more organised – we have a strict routine every day, starting with breakfast, a small walk, then I bring her to the studio for the morning classes, while she just hangs out on the couch happily. Afterwards, I do my own practice – she does her own upward stretching dogs and downward dogs on occasion, but mostly she’s happy in savasana – and then we get onto the best part of the day for her: we get out in nature, we run, we walk, we swim. She LOVES swimming, I have never seen another dog like it. Then later on, she rests and sleeps at home while I teach the night classes.
After about five months together, she’s really well trained and has changed a lot with me. She’s got so much energy to burn every day, she’s attentive, she listens well, though she’s not always very patient. She’s funny – I see her trying to get whatever she wants, even when she knows she shouldn’t. She’s loyal, and protective, of me and of our house.
Having a dog has shown me how to be in the moment – she is always present, in everything she does. It’s taught me patience, as you have to have patience to allow her to learn from you. I have an emotional connection with her when I am teaching her new things. And it’s also about not having attachment to what can happen – if she does something bad, five minutes later she’s happy again. And of course, it’s taught me to love unconditionally.
Most importantly, Joy makes me feel alive. She makes me happy. She’s always watching me, connecting with what I am doing – I have a real friend with Joy.