Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Secret Holders

Dogs listen to our every thought and they know all our secrets, yet they never tell a sole. This is a treasured feature for us humans. It is natural for us to have to spill our secrets out to someone, especially someone safe who will not lecture and judge and will not pass them on to others. We need this, and it is exactly what we get in canine companionship.

Dogs are loyal beyond description – loyal to us, their pack, their bond. In this loyalty, they watch and listen, and then they hold our secrets with a protective stance, and without condemnation. But I wonder, if they had the means to communicate with words with all humans, would they tell our secrets? Perhaps they would, as a sort of intervention, if they thought it would save our lives. Then again, I think not.

I think it is an innate feature of their character to not pass on the information of another. I think that dogs are not capable, not because of a lack of human language, but because of a lack of logic that makes comparisons and draws conclusions. Dogs are truly without judgment. And they love us so much that they would not interfere with our free will, even if they could.

I don’t think dogs see the bigger picture and the value of letting us make our own mistakes; I don’t think they are consciously aware of this profound understanding of life, yet they are designed to simply live on this level.

So if dogs could think like humans, yet retain their true dog nature, they would still take in all our secrets, listening with love, never judging. They would still be by our side, tirelessly loyal, surrounding us with a powerful, unfaltering acceptance.

I am not ashamed for George to see my flaws and know my secrets. I am completely safe with him. He patiently waits as I berate myself and his wagging tail draws me out of depression and takes me into the day with a renewed hope.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Walking in Light Snow

Our first snowfall of the season. I woke up to find the earth covered in white. I threw my coat on and went out to start the car, feeling the exhilaration when my breath caught the sudden shot of damp cold on my feet. There was only a thin layer of snow, but as the soft center of my arches fell into each step, the snow reached out like a hand and grabbed my feet, one at a time, teasingly releasing only to grab again.

I put George’s green stripped sweater on him and carried him to the car. We drove to the park and got out to walk along the river. George was hesitant at first to get out of the car, so as I stood on the snow-covered pavement coaxing him to join me, I wondered if I could bear the combination of frozen mud, melting-to-the-touch snow, and packed, icy leaves for the duration of the walk. He jumped out of the car before I decided to turn back, so two bare feet and four padded paws ventured down to the river.

The air was still, no wind was blowing, and the nighttime darkness still lingered in the sky so the atmosphere was that profound silence of winter isolation. George and I walked, our steps the only sound, magnifying the fact that we alone occupied the land.

Walking warmed my torso, and my hands, tucked inside my coat pockets, remained toasty warm. Only my face and feet experienced the cold – air on face, wetness on feet. A strange combination of physical sensations – I observed, as if from afar.

George pranced along, more interested in sniffing than anything else. To him, the cold earth was nothing more than an uncomfortable inconvenience. When he stopped to explore something more, he picked up one foot at a time finding temporary relief. I understood because I found that if my feet kept moving, I could enjoy the surge of energy that shot through the base of my feet into my whole being, but if I stood still, I felt cold and I didn’t much like that.

Every now and then I hit a patch of mud that was squishy, but most of it was sharp and hard. The leaves were smooth and slippery. The soft snow fell away as I walked. I watched the ground, mesmerized by the constant arising of surface and the way it made me feel, not only where my feet landed, but all through my body and even into my mind.

I’ve been a barefoot walker all my life, but never before had I tried it in the snow. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad for George because without him, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gone to the river this morning, and certainly not barefoot.

By afternoon the sun had taken the white away from the earth and left us only a very wet outdoors. Weather reports are calling for rain, then freezing rain, so I don’t know when we’ll get our next chance to barefoot in the snow. Will I try in freezing rain? I don’t know.