They are such wonderful, amazing creatures – man’s longest and best friend, the dog.
A couple of events caused me to be reminded about the preciousness of our relationship with the dog. The first was coming across this article in The Boston Globe. It is entitled, A friendly paw to a veteran and is all about how therapy dogs bring relief and joy to veterans. Incidentally, the story was written by good friend to Learning from Dogs, Daniela Caride who has her own blog, The Daily Tail. Here’s how that article opens,
NORTHAMPTON — Carter the Chesapeake Bay retriever, Sassy the Pomeranian, and Spyder the German shepherd spend most of their time playing, begging for treats, and getting belly rubs just like other pet dogs. But their unconditional love gains a purpose every time their owners take them to the hospital to visit veterans.
They are therapy dogs — canines trained to give affection to strangers — and they are becoming more popular in veteran facilities. An increasing number of dog owners are willing to volunteer at VA homes and hospices, where 6 million veterans get treated for acute and chronic health conditions. The service they provide is invaluable, health care specialists say.
Read the rest of it here.
The second event was coming across something that I wrote nearly three years ago. Here it is in full.
(Based on an article sent to me, unfortunately from an unknown author, and modified to reflect the special relationship that I have with my 4 year old German Shepherd, Pharaoh. Paul Handover, 14 September, 2007.)
I am your dog and have something I would love to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead very busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise, some have to do this alone. It always seems like you are running here and there, often too fast, never noticing the truly grand things in life.
Look down at me now. While you sit at your computer. See the way my dark, brown eyes look at yours.
You smile at me. I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a single moment of your time? That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me.
So many times you are saddened by others of my kind passing on. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, so suddenly that it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes, we age slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract-clouded eyes. Still the love is always there even when we must take that last, long sleep dreaming of running free in a distant, open land.
I may not be here tomorrow. I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when grief fills their souls, and you will mourn the loss of just ‘one more day’ with me. Because I love you so, this future sorrow even now touches my spirit and grieves me. I read you in so many ways that you cannot even start to contemplate.
We have now together. So come and sit next to me here on the floor and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? Do you see how if you look deeply at me we can talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come not to me as my owner but as a living soul. Stroke my fur and let us look deep into the other’s eyes and talk with our hearts.
I may tell you something about the fun of working the scents in the woods where you and I go. Or I may tell you something profound about myself or how we dogs see life in general. I know you decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share things with. I know how much you have cared for me and always stood up for me even when others have been against me. I know how hard you have worked to help me be the teacher that I was born to be. That gift from you has been very precious to me. I know too that you have been through troubled times and I have been there to guard you, to protect you and to be there always for you. I am very different to you but here I am. I am a dog but just as alive as you.
I feel emotion. I feel physical senses. I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a dog on two feet; I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.
So, come and sit with me. Enter my world and let time slow down if only for a few minutes. Look deep into my eyes and whisper in my ears. Speak with your heart and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow but we do have now.
There is no question that one of the important aspects of life that we can surely learn from dogs is the ability to stay in the present as much as we can. Easier to write than accomplish, of course. But letting go of the past (because it’s gone) and making the best of today as opposed to worrying about the future (because that interferes in the joy of today) is still a powerful reminder of that we would do well to keep close to our heart.