When I ask Izzy as we’re putting on his leash to go out the door whether he wants to “go see Ellie,” his ears perk up, he cocks his head and does a little dance, pulling me all the way down the driveway, up the street, around the corner, up the little hill, then down Ellie’s street. She actually lives behind me with her ‘mom,’ my friend Peggy, but we have to go around the block to get to her house because there’s a stand of 50′ tall bamboo and a few buildings separating our yards. It’s the height of Izzy’s day if we visit his best friend, the little Maltese. I suspect it’s the height of Ellie’s day, too. And in a lot of ways, when Peggy and I sit on her porch and watch our little dogs chase each other around a tree, it’s the height of our day, too. But the past couple of times we’ve gone to visit Ellie, she hasn’t been home. I think Izzy would have patiently waited at the door for her, but when I told him, “She’s not home, buddy.” I think he understood, though he seemed disappointed for the rest of the day.
As I write this, I’m reminded of the delicate strands of friendship and relationship that wind through all our lives. I’m watching two people unload a little house across the street, packing a lifetime of belongings into a trailer they’re pulling behind a black GMC pickup. The house and its belongings were the property of my neighbor, a 90 year old woman. She spent her life her life in that house. Though I never really got to know her, my next door neighbor did, and when the old woman was taken to a nursing home, my friend Deb cried. That’s one of the many things I like about Deb. She’s compassionate and warm. She thinks she’s oversensitive sometimes, but I don’t believe there is such a thing. I think we use that term to cover our own need for self-protection. We don’t want to feel someone else’s pain or anguish, so we call those who do “oversensitive.” I find that term . . . well, insensitive.
Dogs don’t feel the need to hide their feelings. What you see is what you get with my Izzy, as well as with his other friends. If someone’s having a bad day, they growl or snap. If another is happy to see you, there’s no denying the little happy dance dogs do — big or small. There’s something contagious about a dog that practically wiggles out of his skin when he sees someone he loves.
I’ve been reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for a Nobel Peace Prize. Thay (pronounced Tie), as his disciples call him, is traveling throughout Canada and the United States right now, and as a practicing Buddhist, I would love nothing better than to see him. Unfortunately, he’s not coming near my little hamlet in North Carolina, so I’m satisfying myself by reading some of his writings. Today, the one the struck me has an awful lot to do with friendship. I’d like to share it with you.
“The most precious gift we can give others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they bloom like flowers.”
I think Thay knows dogs well 🙂