“I don’t work with people that have dog problems; I work with dogs that have people problems.” -Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer)
There are hidden blessings in blindness; one of those treasures is a new companion; they call them guide dogs. My brother Jeff is on his 4th guide dog. First he had a Golden Retriever named Hoyt, next was a long-haired German Shepherd named Hale, and then there was Charlie- a brilliant, white lab.
Charlie died recently, at about age 75 and he did so with dignity, that is, he was euthanized for wide- spread cancer that came on so quickly that, as my brother said:
“. . . one day he seemed fine and the next he could not even stand to eat. . .” At the time, Charlie was already retired and living at home. My brother was working with his new dog, Lucas. As my brother says: Lucas is- “by far the fastest guide”- he has ever had. To attempt to keep pace with Lucas and Jeff on a hike is an exercise in futility or a workout to be remembered.
All of my brothers ‘guides’ have been my buddies as well. Whenever I see my brother, at some point during our visit, his guide dog companion will come over for a massage, canine acupressure or spontaneous hands on healing. Of course, the healing they bring is always ten times more potent; if they could talk, they would surely chuckle at my ‘healing’ analogy and administer a slathering tongue across the side of the face.
The great thing is: it doesn’t matter if they are tired from guiding and need a massage or if I am overwhelmed with some ridiculous mental fabrication. Once they expose their dogness to me, my hands reach out and touch them. A minute later they lie motionless before me, succumbing to the rub. And, to my great benefit, it doesn’t take any time for the mind to recede into the nothingness from which it came. This gift of ‘no mind’ is cherished in spiritual circles, in fact it is so highly regarded that monks & other spiritual aspirants work a lifetime to ‘get there’ yet dogs show us it is ‘always here’.
In society at large this ‘no mind’ insight is not only highly underated, it is absolutely feared. So this great emptiness of mind or purity of spirit which springs forth once the veil of thought obsession is lifted, is missed entirely because most humans cherish their mind. People love their ‘bundle of thoughts’. Dogs just say:
“Come on let’s play!” People feel lost without their memories, ideas, personalities, and all of the things which give them a sense of independent identity. Dogs don’t have an identity; they don’t know separation; they don’t even know they have a name. Fortunately for us, dogs come when we call them.
As the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle said:
“Millions of people who otherwise would be completely lost in their minds and in endless past and future concerns are taken back by their dog or cat into the present moment, again and again, and reminded of the joy of Being.”
Most people do not realize that their dog is an integral part of their sanity. For many individuals, their dog might be the only life-line keeping them from: commiting some hienous act, drug or alcohol addiction, life on the street or some years in a mental institution. This is no joke in today’s fast-paced, poison-infested, high-tech world where slowing down is tantamount to suicide. The great thing about dogs: they are always in the flow of the present moment. So when we are with our dogs, an opportunity to remember who we really are is always available: and who we really are is this same Beingness that our dogs effortlessly reflect. And this vibration, the dog resonance, comes without asking.
Today while walking on the beach I was feeling the massage session which took place with my brother’s newest guide, Lucas, last Sunday. During that session, as Lucas became more physically relaxed, the presence spread throughout the room, a powerful reminder and a serenade, pointing the way to the true Home. Moments later, while I was still walking on the beach, a man appeared, looking distraught. Suddenly he said:
“I am looking for a small dog. . .” He held out his hands, with about 18 inches between them. I told him, I would come back if I saw him. As I walked away, I shook my head in awe at the connectivity of life and then looked down at the ground. A miss mash of many human footprints, some with shoes and other barefoot imprints dotted the landscape in front of me. I, however, was following the loan set of paw prints, etched gently and floating across the sand. All I could do was laugh. Once again the dogs had their way with me.
Farewell Charlie: You have been a great friend to my brother and your influence will never leave us. (Photo is: Charlie and Lucas)