When I observe certain dogs I’m allowed to see a small portion of a person’s hopes and dreams. Not that they know they’ve given me this rare and honored glimpse into themselves, but still, there in front of me stands the living, breathing embodiment of the person’s deepest hopes.
Good or bad, dogs are a litmus test of the true person. Dogs reveal who we really are.
I often catch a shining moment of compassion. The dog is kind to a small animal and so I realize the owner has enhanced the dog’s kindness. Or, it might be I glance and view happiness. A dog cannot be happy without an owner who is, also. Confidence quietly wraps the dog and I understand a human has helped it learn to master problems without fear or insecurity remaining. Loving, loyal companionship, a head that follows your movement, an ear cocked to the sound of your return, a body sleepily making contact with yours are all indications that an aware and caring human has extended the gifts of respect, emotional honesty, and the right to express individuality to their dog at some point.
The human has learned to bear the mantle of leadership well, all for their dog’s sake. I’m not referring to the dog’s obedience, though on the surface that’s what trainers would have you believe creates a good dog. I’m speaking of the human trying to understand the dog better, to communicate, to trust, to enjoy, offering freedom, emotional security, a complete existence rich and varied, full of respect for the individual dog and his intelligence. A life wherein the human helped him learn behavioral skills that he would need in order for him to feel at ease and for people to like him.
The person will turn themselves inside out and never complain. They’ll change old habits. They’ll face their inadequacies squarely and strive to improve themselves in order that their dogs have a better chance to live life to its fullest and be seen as a good dog.
Being human they may fail often, but never stop trying. They may fall short and push harder to make it right the next time. They will force themselves to admit their shortcomings and then diligently concentrate on personal change in order to make it easier for their dog to achieve the human’s unexpressed personal desire – for others to see in the eyes of their dog what they themselves have seen – a good, loving, intelligent and respected companion.
I may not hear from people for months, but when I do I will hear pride and contentment come through in their voices or in the words they write about their dogs. I may see them after a long hiatus and notice a confidence and new, unspoken communication flowing between the two. Pleasure, from both dog and human, is almost visible to my naked eye as a shimmering color.
It seems, whenever I begin to wonder if I truly make a difference, or help people and their dogs, I encounter or hear from someone and they radiate quiet contentment and pleasure over their deepening relationship with their dog. When life is very generous, the dog remembers me and is pleased to see me again. For me, it is one of life’s greatest treasures.