By Debby Kay ©all rights reserved
As I sit to write this my last blog of 2016, there are many things happening around me that have caused me to reflect on what I value most in life. There is an abundance of talk about what gift to buy Uncle Fred or so and so friend and it got me thinking what is the best gift we can give during the holidays to those who matter most to us ? As I pondered that question my Chihuahua Boo snuggled a little closer to my leg to get warmer; that was my answer. The gift our dogs give us is the best gift we can give others.
The gift from our dog’s is really complex from my viewpoint. There is the obvious love they lavish on us regardless of our sex, age, race, financial status, mood or temperament. Beyond that though as I share hours with my dogs doing many different activities I have gleaned how patient they are. Ranger will take many minutes to carefully examine a spot on the grass trying to decipher all the wonderful smells and their meaning. It is all important to him, he does not want to miss any detail of the information left by the previous dog. I note to myself that I need to be more attentive to all of the words in the messages left for me so I get the full meaning of what is being conveyed.
Boo will sit for long stretches of time on the front porch waiting for the seed stealing squirrels to appear at the birdfeeder in the flower bed opposite the porch. He is still as a statue. He holds his position until the squirrel is at its most vulnerable position and then he explodes forward like a heat seeking missile to its target. After the squirrel is successfully run off he returns to me seeking my approval. He reminds me that we all need to be recognized for a task well done.
I could go on with many more examples about all the finer things I have learned and observed spending a lifetime with dogs. I think however Alexandra Horowitz said it best in her new book Inside Of A Dog;
“The more we learn of animal’ abilities, the finer we have to split the hair to maintain a dividing line between humans and animals. Still, it is interesting to note that we seem to be the only species spending any time studying other species—or, at least, reading or writing books about them. It is not necessarily to the dog’s discredit that they do not.
What is revealing is how dogs perform on tasks that measure social abilities we thought only human beings had. The results, whether serving to show how alike or unalike dogs are to or from us, have relevance to our relationships with our dogs. When considering what we ask of them and what we should expect from them, understanding their differences from us will serve us well. Science’s effort to find distinctions illustrates more than anything else the one true distinction: our drive to affirm our superiority-to make comparisons and judge differences. Dogs, noble minds, do not do this. Thank goodness.”
As you prepare the last minute things for celebrating the season in your own tradition, I hope you will consider your dog for who she or he is, a dog; noble, kind, generous, patience and full of boundless joy. They are our best reminder of what the season is all about and our models for how we should treat each other.
If you have time, I urge you to watch this very well done movie on one aspect of our relationship with our dogs that is often misunderstood.
Tough Love: A meditation on Dominance and Dogs
Have a safe and happy holiday!