We get it from our dogs.
This Christmas I received a present of a 3 month-old “lobero” (wolf-dog) puppy from Diego, my son-in-law. We already have Haku, a two year old wolf-dog. Some of you reading this will already have met him if you have visited us in Cantabria. For both Rhea and I dogs have been a source of joy throughout our lives. Although for many years we were involved in horses and riding, dogs have always been an integral part of the extended family.
Having a dog in the family is an interesting phenomenon as there is no real justifiable, rational reason or need for it. Our dogs sometimes do help out with working on the farm and in the “monte” (the countryside around us) but our true reason for having dogs is simply because we want to; it gives us great pleasure. In this sense it is like meditation. We don’t mediate to try and get some result; we do it, simply to do it. Having said that, the result can be quite pleasant. Meditation is one way in which we take care of ourselves. It’s the same with our dogs; we have them because we want to; when I take care of and play with our dogs I am taking care of myself.
There are so many aspects of our dogs that we love: the genuine and bouncy infinite happiness that greets us as we come down the stairs each morning; being welcomed home like a long lost friend; their easy, attentive but wordless company on walks; meditating with my dog silently at my side. Training dogs is also very rewarding. To do it properly and safely you must be firm and clear but always noticing, with patience and kindness.
There is something also very special about riding in the countryside ─ just rider, horse and dog. There is an unspoken trust, a partnership, each with his own task and responsibilities, all together ─ a team collaborating on a small adventure. It fills us with joy to watch their exuberance, joy and energy at simply being alive; their simple and obvious emotions, particularly the almost comical expression of guilt when they’ve done something naughty.
Joy of being alive is contagious; you can get it from your dog!
And of course we experience their old age sickness and death, their suffering and our loss.
All of life may be found in that relationship.