Let’s face it—animals are amazing, especially the way their gaze penetrates.
Dogs do this more profoundly than most other pets. Their eyes window us so well, mirror a place so profoundly and unfathomably human.
My dog Ralph does this for me—makes me feel, makes me heal—
—Makes me more.
He makes me better, fuller, brighter. He makes me smile.
And his smile speaks to me in a place I don’t otherwise listen to.
(Yes, I swear—he seems to smile.)
A terrier mix, Ralph will be eight this month, so we’re celebrating in a way, and Sara’s telling again the story of how she found him at the pound in southern Georgia, when he was eight months old.
How he was lost and hit by a car a week and a half after that. How it took several days to find him—his hip and pelvis shattered. How Sara carried him for months, till he learned to walk again.
We’re reminiscing about how he brought us together—five years ago.
In 2006 Sara was directing her NGO’s response to the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, while I was working in Lexington as an artist-in-residence. These employment realities brought us together, my needing to supplement my measly artist’s income by pet sitting and Sara’s needing to travel while at the same time caring for her dog.
When I look at Ralph now, knowing I fell in love with him before I loved my own partner, it seems I continue to learn from him. I grow. I don’t know what. I only know that there is more of me—that I am somehow increased—and in a good way. Not ego. Soul.
I don’t know how dogs do this—how they perform this magic—how they wizard their way into us—so Oz—so Emerald City –ruby slipper—dearest of dear.
Has your dog done this to you?
Have you been dog-dazed this summer?
(Note: To read a post about my misadventure moving Ralph to Vietnam and the less-than-wonderful night we spent together in South Korea–“An unfortunate incident involving the international trafficking of canines and what I haven’t learned since then“–click here.)