“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — French Nobel Prize winner Anatole France
Searching for a dog, I recently visited three animal shelters. At the final one, I saw a dog that I instantly connected to.
I consulted with my friend Debbie Melmon and decided to adopt her—one of the best decisions in my 73-years. Or was it she who adopted me, as we gazed deeply into each other’s brown eyes?
Loving and being loved by animals can be especially important for elders, as well as children and humans of any age.
I had been dogless for half a year and it was time to once again have a dog companion. My new side-by and I have grown quite close; it is hard to imagine life without her.
Daisie is playful. This old-timer has prayed for more play. She enjoys wrestling, as I do. At around 50 pounds, I can still pick her up, especially when she is a naughty girl. She gets jealous when I play with other dogs or give too much attention to humans, writing, or farm work.
We both like body contact. She is very visual. As I write this in my writer’s cabin, she looks out the window. She naps many times a day. She takes good care of herself and let’s me know what she wants. When I work on my computer, she comes over and puts her pretty face and pinkish nose in my lap, a welcome break.
When Daisie, a yellow Lab/German Shepherd mix arrived home, I set up 2 doggie beds for her. She checked out both. When I went to my bed, she jumped in, and spent the rest of the night there. It was one of my best, deepest sleeps in a long time. She slept through the night. Daisie does sometimes snore, but not very loud.
Someone had taught her many good things—including commands such as the following: sit, stay, come, shake, down, roll over.
She is alert, embodied, and affectionate. She makes and holds direct eye contact, being relentlessly curious. When she wants to go out, she waits patiently at the glass door, which opens up to trees, flowers, my farm, and nature.
Daisie feels like an angel incarnated in a four-footed. Perhaps she was sent to this old-timer to bring love and stimulate my joy at still being alive, during our dark historical moment, and my own wounded knee.
My only other dog as an adult–a wonderful Catahoula Leopard Hound–barked too much for this sound-sensitive guy during our six years together. Daisie does not bark, though she does growl. She is also sound-sensitive; my foot massager startles her.
Our eyes often meet. She radiates a strong life force. Since wounding my knee half a year ago–by falling into a badger hole–my life force has diminished. Daisie is a delight to look at, and have her return the gaze. She has a strong presence and loves to be petted.
“She’s clearly been loved,” said Debbie. “Someone put their time and attention to train her.” She added that Daisie is “fit and athletic. You can see in her eyes and how much direct eye contact she makes that she is smart and curious.”
“Best Friend Forever” reads the bag full of goodies that the Sonoma County Animal Care shelter gave us. If you rescue a dog from a shelter, you may have a life-long friend.
A difficulty with Daisie has occurred, which I work to correct. When a couple of my friends extended their hands to greet me at the Sebastopol Farm Market, she became protective. No damage was done, but my friends were startled, as I was. Was she getting jealous?
Her main competitor for my attention is my computer. When I use it in my writer’s cabin, she does not hesitate to lay her head on my lap. I would rather cuddle her than be online.
Being childless, I sometimes think of Daisie as my child, for whom I must care and provide. Since she’s four-years-old and I’m 73, I think about which one of us will survive the other. I will soon add her to my will and think who among my friends would be the best person to leave her to. Love and death are deeply connected. What else is there at such depth?
Shelters are full of animals, waiting to be adopted and move into homes with two-footeds. They have a lot to offer. We humans have much to learn from dogs and other four-footeds.
Dr. Shepherd Bliss (email@example.com) is a retired college teacher. He has contributed to 24 books and owns Kokopelli Farm.
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