It has been a tough week made more difficult because I missed my weekly volunteer session with the senior dogs of Muttville.
"You can always tell about somebody by the way they put their hands on an animal."
~ Betty White
I stopped at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant to see my friend behind the counter and get some vegetables and fish with black bean sauce. To my delight, a man who was already at the counter getting food had a black retriever on a leash standing behind him. I waved my fingers lightly at the dog. She gave me a slight wag of her long tail in reply. Mentally I wished the man to keep chatting and ordering more food, so I had enough time to approach his dog slowly. She gave me encouraging signs to keep up my sidling.
How do dogs know you need them?
Quickly dropping to my knees, I crouched next to her. She pushed as close to me as she could on her leash. She had a thin piece around her muzzle to keep her from picking up garbage from the sidewalk. She couldn't kiss me because of it, but I still put my head down and let her sniff my hair. She agreed I was worthy of her efforts to get closer and allow me to snuggle her body. I did.
It felt like many more minutes than our snuggle session was, but I absorbed so much warm affection from this loving middle-aged black dog. We could have kept at it for much longer, but her papa turned around to notice what was happening behind him when he felt a stronger tug on the leash. He laughed. We laughed. She was encouraged to turn up the dial on her loving and proceeded to lean hard into my side until she plopped down on the linoleum floor.
He laughed even louder, saying, "she loves to love, but I have never seen her do that with a stranger before, and certainly not inside this restaurant." My friend behind the counter laughed too and said, "dogs love her!" I smiled at them both while never slowing in my delivery of belly rubs and snuggs.
Dogs and Magic
I had such a wonderful, surprising interlude in the middle of a rough week, in the middle of a tiring day. I didn't get the dog's name, but my friend said they come every week for lunch. So do I, but this was the first time we met. I believe this made our moment all the more magical and aligned with the stars. I needed what she had to offer, and she gladly poured out more love and affection than I could hold. In her doggy way, she told me not to give up, that the positive influence of dogs was always there for me.
Her message couldn't have been more timely or appreciated. I write about how dogs give fearlessly, but at that moment, I didn't recognize that our play was precisely the fearless giving that she was demonstrating. I remain in awe of dogs and their instincts.
Have you ever felt the surprising way a dog knows you need them? What happened? I would love to read your story in the comments.