I’m brought back to my lady on the path, her explosion of warmth, tenderness, connectedness, that occurred when she saw Maisie. Is it that animals offer us love free of judgments and conditions – and we mirror their uncomplicated love in return? Does their exuberance for living awaken our own élan vital?
Our connection to our pets is not only practical and utilitarian, but also has a spiritual dimension. Perhaps it is this spiritual dimension that is responsible for our deep love for our critters. In Nepal, an entire day is set aside for a festival, Kukur Tihar, that honors dogs for their loyalty and friendship.
The Greek goddess Artemis, Diana in the Roman tradition, travels with a hound at her side. Dogs feature in Native American lore, and guard the doors to heaven and hell in the Hindu tradition. Dogs have been celebrated in myth, fairy tale, poetry and fiction. The poet Mary Oliver has written Dog Songs, an entire book of poems and essays celebrating her beloved four-leggeds.
Or could the woman’s reaction have more to do with the irresistibility of puppies? And of Golden Retriever puppies, in particular? In their profile of Golden Retrievers, Modern Dog calls out their special appeal:
“Yes, all puppies are cute and adorable, but when it comes to Goldens, they’re in a class of their own. There’s something particularly heart-melting about these bundles of wriggling blond fur, with their oversized paws, soft brown eyes, alert tails and, of course, velvet floppy ears.”
Shall we ever understand our sudden attraction to someone? Or some dog? What is the moral of my dog story? There is no moral. There is only this: expect life to flummox you. Love may be blossoming where you least expect it.
“A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.”—Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
This post appeared in a slightly different form on Dale’s blog on Psychology Today. You can find all of Dale’s blog posts for Psychology Today at “Transcending the Past.”
We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.—Talmudic saying
Our new Golden Retriever puppy is nearly six months old and her learning experiences are our learning experiences. Five times a day she whimpers to go out; five times a day we tell her: Not now, Maisie — all three of us learning what to expect from each other concerning patience.
Even though she is our fourth Golden in a long line of beloved earlier dogs, the art of dog training and the knowledge and understanding of canine behavior has exponentially increased since our last dip into dog parenting. This, I think, follows the trend in childrearing — hundreds of “experts” with completely contradictory advice: Have the baby sleep in your bed; never let the baby sleep in your bed.