Meet: Andrew Budek-Schmeisser
His Family- wife Barbara, dogs MochaJava, Dukee, Rapunzel (aka Pinzgauer), Humphrey, Denali the Happy Husky, Ladron, Sylvia, Bray, Red, Megan the Tank, Mr. Independent, Reebok, Josie, Daisy, Chris, Yoda, Tammy, Rufus, Regis, Shelby, Daughtrie, Labby, Bernard the Ninth, Duke, Elvis, and Bella the Wheechair Dog. Cats FredScotch and Schatzie, and a turtle – Mr. Turtle.
Location in the World- a mesa west of Belen, New Mexico, at a height of just under a mile above sea level
1 – God
2 – Barbara and the dogs
3 – Henry Lee’s poem “Fighting On”
I see no gleam of victory alluring,
no hope of splendid booty or of gain.
IfI endure, I must go on enduring,
and my only reward for bearing pain – is pain.
Yet though the thrill, the zest, the hope are gone
something within me keeps me fighting on.
My calling- I had a lot of ‘callings’ in my life, but I think they’ve all distilled down into my work with abused and abandoned dogs, I’ve seen death and cruelty casually applied, and this is the place where I’ve chosen to stand, for life and love and hope. It’s come at a high
cost to what I thought were my ‘dreams’, but in the end it wasn’t my own aspirations that really matter. What matters is the effort to make a difference, even in a small way, for the good. And I can only hope that this example might be seen by others, and that people will see that they life is better when they put aside ego and give love freely. That’s the biggest legacy we can leave, I think, a legacy of love given without hope of reward, and of love accepted with gratitude.
How God has worked through me- I was certainly in need of redemption! I valued physical and mental hardness above all other ‘virtues’, and they can be useful, but I overdid it. I guess the redemption came from a dog’s life that I didn’t save. About twenty years ago I adopted two dogs from the county shelter in San Diego, and saw another, an old retriever who really had no hope. He looked at me sadly, and I looked at him – and to my everlasting regret, I turned away, thinking I could only handle two. His eyes will forever haunt me. He should not have passed his last days there. I should have said, “No!” and taken him too; I failed God’s mission for me at that moment. So in a way, all I do, I do for this nameless creature, and in a way I’m saying, “I’m sorry.” To him, and to God.
How do I place myself in the proximity of renewal? Hard to answer this one. Things don’t really get my heart beating faster. My wife says I’m a Vulcan, after all – but at night I sometimes walk through the house and listen to the dogs as they sleep. Their breath, snoring, yipping in dreams of play – and I feel a contentment that I never knew as a pilot, an academic, or as a soldier of fortune.
Andrew writes at Blessed are the Pure of Heart.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your work.