There are probably as many reasons as there are relationships addressing why people feel as strongly as they do about their dogs. I have my own theory about it (though will readily acknowledge that I am probably not the first to come up with it) and it goes along with the ‘mindfulness’ theme I touched on in my last post.
Throughout most of my adult life my work has included both travel and outdoor recreation. There is not much that I enjoy more than being outside moving, a source of pleasure I think I share with dogs. Indeed my enjoyment increases when I am sharing the experience with dogs. But that’s not why I think I feel as strongly as I do about dogs, it’s not just about shared interests.
When I am sitting in the back of a raft above a rapid, planning the route through the waves, and then shouting out commands to the crew, “ALL AHEAD!”, “BACK LEFT, FORWARD RIGHT!”, my thoughts and actions are completely in response to where I am and what needs to be done each moment as I experience it. I am not thinking about whether or not I paid the mortgage or if the pants I am wearing make my bum look big. I am required to act in a way which is as truthful to the situation as I can manage. The same kind of truthfulness is required when climbing up a rock face, zipping down a steep hill on a bicycle, and when interacting with a dog.
Dogs, similar to physical activities that requires deliberate action and finesse, can take us out of time and to a place in our minds that despite any intensity of focus it requires, provides us with a kind of relief from ourselves. Good books, tasks that require attention to detail, music, and many other activities can help us achieve the kind of presence in the moment that is a continuous challenge to our forever active brains. And although it’s a contradiction, the more we are able to step away from the endless dialogue we have with ourselves, the more we can feel and act like ourselves.
Each dog, and every glance we exchange is an opportunity for me to transcend the limitations created by my own certainty.