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What Hope Taught Me About Fear

At BrightHaven, we often talk about following the wisdom of the animals. In fact, that’s how our Menu for Healing, the cornerstone of BrightHaven’s work, came into being!

I was blessed to meet and spend time with many wise and wonderful animals while I lived on the BrightHaven sanctuary property in Santa Rosa, CA, for over four years.

I was particularly drawn to Hope and volunteered to take her out for walks. Little did I know that this beautiful blind dog had an important lesson about fear for me…

Hope’s Story

black and white dog with cat
Hope sharing her bed with King Tut

Hope came to the BrightHaven sanctuary in 2009 for hospice care when she was about one year old.  Hope had been bred to be the “perfect white shepherd,” but instead she was born with serious brain and heart damage and with no eyes.

After much soul searching, along with a plea from Hope via a close animal communicator friend, we went ahead with a life-threatening surgery to allow her heart to function more normally. It proved successful and Hope began her new life.

As BrightHaven President and Founder Gail Pope explains, “Hope had many limitations as her brain never functioned normally, but she told us that her mission would be to teach people to see with their hearts instead of their eyes and to not judge people or animals by the way they look or behave, but to search deeper – to the true being within – and to reach out to, and love, that being wholeheartedly.”

Hope lived out that mission, touching the lives and hearts of many until her death in June 2015.

Walking with Hope

Hope had a very unique walking style, perhaps because she couldn’t see. She also seemed to have a certain level of anxiety when standing still or walking too slowly, which caused her to pace in circles.

When Hope had enough forward momentum, she fell into a joyful rhythm. She smiled as she gracefully and purposely kicked out her front paws ahead of her, much like a prancing horse.

Walking and particularly jogging with Hope kept me in the present moment. Since she was blind, I had to be alert and keep moving so she didn’t start circling me and trip us both up with the leash.

I loved to sing to Hope on our outings. We both seemed to enjoy it. Here is a little song she inspired me to create:

What Hope Taught Me About Fear

happy black and white dog  closeup
Happy Hope!

At that time, I was grappling with many unknowns in my life, particularly about what was next for me on the work front and my sense of financial stability was shaky. I was in the midst of a major life transition, and I had no idea what was in store for me. I only knew I couldn’t go backwards.

Thinking about the what-ifs and imagining all of the worst-case scenarios when faced with the unknown can definitely result in paralyzing fear.

Then one day it hit me while Hope and I were out walking – Hope couldn’t see where she was going, but that certainly didn’t stop her from moving forward with joy and confidence! 

This realization definitely helped me to put things in perspective and to relax. I thanked her for the lesson, one I’ll never forget, and we headed home.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

BrightHaven Resources to Help Your Animal Live Well Each and Every Day!

Gail & Joey
(Photo by in joy photography)
Carol Howe Hulse – Education Program Specialist
Carol & Silver
(Photo by Beth Shields)
  • Walking with My Dog Through (End of) Lifean intimate look at a profound life passage, from terminal diagnosis through hospice care and natural death. (Author: Carol Howe Hulse, BrightHaven Education Program Specialist)





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