I have experienced a bit of stress in the last few weeks, and so has Slider. It’s funny to me though; he seems to handle things so well. Many dogs do. They seem to master what we can’t… embracing turbulence and accepting situations for what they are. Most people struggle with that. I know I do. Maybe it’s because dogs are simple creatures. They are not concerned with phone upgrades and job promotions… nor do they immerse themselves in drama or dwell in what they cannot change. Dogs concentrate on being, not doing. Emily Dickinson once said, “Dogs are better than humans because they know but do not tell.” They cannot betray or disrespect others with words the way people do. Dogs are truly loyal.
I find the phenomenon of mindfulness very intriguing. It’s hard to grasp, but most people describe it as “being focused on the present moment.” I sometimes get so tied up in my worries and thoughts that I run autopilot. I try to remind myself of this when it occurs, so I can return to what is important: the beauty of now. It is difficult to do. Although dogs cannot speak and do not have the advanced skills that humans possess, I believe they cultivate mindfulness. I observe it on a daily basis when I am with Slider.
When I take him outside for a walk, he is completely in the moment. His attention is set on nature and his senses become awakened. The way he examines his surroundings… eyes fixated, noise twitching; it is obvious that he is taking everything in. It’s almost like he is saying, “I really like this place and being here. Life is good.” Seeing him this way brings me back to the present and for a brief moment, there is space between my thoughts. I am free of worry. I can let go. It is peaceful.
No wonder dogs can mitigate the horrifying symptoms associated with PTSD and other disabilities. They have many gifts that human beings lack. There are moments when Slider will look at me, in my eyes, and I feel like he is saying… “everything will be ok.” There is a sense of spiritual connectivity that reassure me.
A few nights ago, I was really in need of that reassurance. I called out to Slider, and he jumped onto the sofa to lay by my side. I was reading Whitman. I turned to my favorite poem and read it aloud. Slider intrigued, cuddled closer to me. The poem was: