“What’s with the dogs? What are the dogs to you? Why dogs? Why this borderline obsession in your life? What does it do for you?”
Dogs, first & foremost, are my deepest connection to Mother Nature, and I value this above all else. I grew up with “hippie” parents and a non-restrictive upbringing centered around nature & its simplistic beauty, commanding respect and admiration. To litter would have been the ultimate act of disrespect. My parents loved animals as much as I did, and it set the stage for the rest of my life, although I’ve definitely derailed from time to time. “Train-wrecked” might be more accurate a term, but I’ll explain that later. Dogs are a continuous source of peace and a reminder of clarity, for me. Having that connection to nature on an everyday basis is very real, and a true privilege.
Dogs are beautiful in their canine simplicity. They are not “less than” humans. They are different than humans. I have the highest level of respect for dogs because of this, not in spite of this. That simplicity is something to strive for, under certain conditions, not something to be considered “less than.” By calling canines simple, I mean no disrespect. Quite the opposite. I love & admire the purity in a dog’s intentions; their motivations are spotless. There are no ulterior motives, as sometimes compared to the human counterpart. If you try, you can trust a dog unconditionally. You can bet that he wants to trust you. And that trust is something to be honored & cherished & celebrated.
Dogs are, in large part, exchange students in a foreign land. They don’t speak the language, and are frequently made to just free-for-all it through life with people who care not to learn to communicate with them. Imagine that? Imagine being dropped in Uzbekistan (or some other foreign land) where you don’t speak the language and nobody takes the time to level with you? The people who take the time to learn to speak Canine can be few & far between, the ability coming more naturally to some, but it is so much more than a gift… to the dogs & to oneself. Making that effort has changed my whole life, and given me back so much more than I could ever give. “Making that effort,” by the way, is a joy unto itself… not a chore. And what it has given me more than anything is peace. By design.
Dogs seek balance. They are pure in their intentions. You never need to second guess a dog. They are trust in its purest form.
Dogs keep me grounded; they remind me to simplify... prioritize. Concentrate on the goal, concentrate on the goal, yes, but more than that, concentrate on the journey. The “goals” may in fact be the same for us both, the dogs & myself: happiness, fulfillment in life, adventure, excitement, peace, harmony, camaraderie, balance… I can’t ask them, in so many words, but I feel we’re on the same page there.
I think that in the rat race to get results, battle each other on methodology, and the hopeless attempt to consistently create these carbon copies of the “perfect dog,” a lot gets lost in translation. The science once said that Earth was flat, remember. Sometimes, I think the “science” (of whatever camp you subscribe to) needs to be set aside, strip it all down, and we need to allow ourselves to connect with Nature, if you will; take a moment to observe, be quiet, and give your dog a chance to speak to you. I am not saying that science should be discounted or thrown out, not at all. I think there is a happy marriage in there somewhere between the concrete sometimes conflicting & confrontational Numbers Game that is science and the rawness and primitive simplicity of the unwritten communiqué that is immeasurably natural.
Sometimes when I write, I just go, and when I re-read it, I can’t imagine that the actual words will make sense to anybody else. I truly appreciate every response, positive or negative, because I feel unbelievably flattered & honored that anything I’ve written has ever showed up once in a Google search.
And I just want to say on a very real level, I thank every single person that takes a moment to read my blog, because what a lot of people don’t know is that I am what is commonly referred to as a “recovering alcoholic.” Although I still have an aversion to the verbiage, I’m afraid that there is accuracy there. Writing was a lifelong love I’d slowly forgotten in my pursuit of the bottle. Every person reading this blog has given a little bit of that back to me, and I am proud to say, I am 15 months without a drink today. Truly & from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful & I thank you. Most of all, I am grateful for these dogs. So what are they to me? What are dogs to me? In a nutshell, that’s easy. Everything.
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