Once, I was in my final and most important pose, the Almighty Savasana, at the end of a magical yoga session in Ohio. My instructor started guiding us through a meditation in which she asked us to visualise ourselves at the edge of a calm still lake with a soft light at its centre. Then she asked us to envision the most enlightened being in the world to you, the being could be dead or alive, someone you know or not, a mentor, a deity, whomever you perceive to be completely at peace with themselves and the universe, and one whom you strived to be more like. Not being a religious person myself, and finding myself uncomfortable with visualising any person for that matter, into my mind popped this little beautiful black dog, at the centre of my calm, still lake. All black, with a bright white line running down the centre of his third eye: my dog, Skunks.
I dismissed the image at first, thinking, ‘Geez, that’s the most enlightened being you can think of?’ And then thought, why the hell not? The meditation continued with that enlightened being coming to you at the edge of the lake, and bringing to the centre, joining them in the light. After the class and later on through the day, I reflected on how appropriate that visualisation really was for me (I still do to this day).
If you have ever had a close, personal, intuitive relationship with a dog, I think you can understand when I say I believe dogs to be very enlightened beings (sorry for all the cat lovers out there, I think they are cool too). Here are a few of my own reasons I believe that dogs—my dogs anyway—are just about as connected to the Self as one can get.
This one is a no brainer. Many cat lovers will contend that while cats make you earn their affection, dogs just give it away to anyone for free. What’s so wrong with that? Sometimes I am in a bitchy mood, had a hard day, going through a struggle with my husband, and yes dammit, I want some free, no strings attached LOVE! I want cuddles and affection without any questions or expectations of getting anything but love in return.
Once you have a healthy dog, he or she is almost always in the mood for a little play. Play is a very important part of life that many of us often neglect. Day to day obligations, jobs, stress, responsibilities often drain so much of our time and energy that we seldom find that the desire for play. Making time for silliness, laughter and fun greatly reduces stress and illness and more importantly, shifts our perspectives back to what’s really important in life: sharing the good times with our loved ones. If you have a dog, you know a day without play is not an option.
No, I don’t mean your dog can read your cards or tell you your future. I am referring to that non-verbal intuitive communication that your pet can pick up on. An ability that many people who are connected with themselves and the rest of the world are said to also have. Reading body language and emotional energy is something that your animal can definitely relate to. Have you noticed that when you are sad, in physical pain or lonely, your dog tends to comfort you more?
He may also know when someone has bad intentions or should not be trusted. So I have a basic rule: if my dog doesn’t like you, neither do I. And conversely, if you don’t like my dog, get the f*&^ out.
This is a big one. It’s hard to forgive, and even harder to forget. But so often we see that dogs that have been abandoned, abused, left for dead, even they have the ability to forgive; and although they may be traumatised, they always have that ability to love, to trust and to be open for receiving love. If only humans could see that even after the worst has happened, there still may be a bright side to things, there still may be good in people, and the potential is there to move on from the most terrible of situations, leaving behind self-loathing, bitterness and resentment, and still have something to wag your little tail about.
Living in the moment
My favourite. If we take nothing away from our experience with our canine companions, at least we should learn this from them: just live in the moment. Yes, we have to think and plan for the future, yes the past has happened and some of it has been total s*&t. But now is happening right now. So let’s stop living in that fear and anticipation that something bad may or may not happen. Let’s stop dwelling on that tragedy from last year. Let’s live right now, not holding grudges, not being mad at what someone said or did yesterday; let’s smell that flower, right now (or pee on it); let’s stop at look at that sunset on our way home, or at the moon tonight. Get excited about the miracle that is this moment. As my wise teacher Sri Dharma Mittra says, let’s stop expecting and focusing on the fruits of our actions; let’s do the action for what it is, the best that we can do it today, and in that, our action becomes a devotion, a prayer.
And what I am going to write next might be lame, and cliché, and yes I read it on a T-shirt, but its true. Life is short, go play with your dog.
In loving memory of Skunks, RIP baby boy.