Awe of Dogs
The other day Aria said, Mama, you know how I learned to talk to the dogs? Listening to you. I can’t do it exactly like you but I keep trying.
My 13 yr old daughter is referring to the ridiculously flirty baby goo-gooey way I talk to all furry creatures but none more so than dogs. All dogs, not just mine.
I have 3 and feel the itch for another one or two. What’s a farm for, if not for a pack of muddy waggers gallivanting all over the place? Doc and I have had many dogs. Our first was a beloved black lab--Elzia. She had the softest ears and got into messes, the likes of which, I had never seen. That is, until I had children.
Over the years we’ve had the privilege of knowing 9 dogs for various lengths of time before they departed this earth. All of them have taught me the same lesson.
I don’t know if I can put into a single word the essence of this teaching. I suppose that’s the Awe of it. Words attempting to describe the experience of awe only prove to reduce it. Better to just be in and with awe than try to word it out.
But for the sake of this practice, I want bring you to the awe of dogs starting their eyes. The eyes of a dog don’t lie. They don’t hold back. They don’t project. There’s no false bravado or questioning confidence. There’s no doubt. What you see in a dog’s eyes is what you get and what you get is who they are in that moment. If a dog is feeling angry or upset, you’ll see it. If there’s any insecurity or fear, it radiates from their eyes. If they’re guilty their eyes say it all. And when dogs are happy, oh my, just one look in their eyes is enough to make my heart explode.
Looking into the eyes of a dog forces me to wonder, what do my eyes reveal?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a dog’s tail. Asia, our largest and oldest is ½ lab and ½ border collie with a tail that speaks volumes. When he’s happy, he wags in a wide sweeping arc with a toothy grin. When he’s nervous, he sits on his tail tucked tight between his legs. Only three things make Asia quake. Gunshots, thunder, and something in the shifting energy related to weather—a sense I do not possess. Then there’s my favorite wag of his. I call it the tail-tip wag.
Every morning I sit on a little stool in our laundry room and talk to my wagger friends. This and a cup of coffee is how I greet my day. Asia, when he’s completely content, will sit at my feet, wrap a paw around my arm and with his tail, lying on the floor sticking straight out, wag only its very tip. I look into his eyes and experience nothing but friendship, trust, affection, and pure happiness. Asia doesn’t tail-tip wag for everyone, so when you receive it, you know you are being granted a gift.
Noticing how a dog wags forces me to wonder, what does my body language say?
The awe of dogs is about coming into the awareness that so much of what we say needn’t come through our mouths in words. In fact, we’re probably more true when we learn to speak with our eyes and wag just a little bit more.