Thrilled to have my permission to climb the stairs to see his friend, he pranced upward. After getting some love there, he looked through the railings down to meet my gaze. His tail wagged and he danced around a bit more. After a few more pets from his human friend, he looked at me once more as if asking me what he should do now.
I gave him a smile (how could I not) and a nod. With those, he pranced his way back down the stairs and ran around the courtyard back to me. When he got to me, he jumped up, kissed my face and stood there in front of me wagging his entire behind.
It was quite a little show from this nearly 13-year-old therapy dog. He wasn’t slowed down by his arthritis and seemed to be as happy as he could be. The laughing and smiling by his small audience seemed to match.
When given an opportunity to be in a contained space, and off leash, Duke goes where he is needed. He seems to know who needs him the most and spends most of his time with them. He seems to know just how to distribute his attention so that everyone who needs a little lift, feels his genuine excitement to see them again.
After three years of watching how Duke does what he does at the Homeless Emergency Project, I almost feel like I have gained a new sense of others. He is teaching me how to tune into postures and the more subtle nonverbal cues. It is fascinating really.
I didn’t quite realize he was teaching me this until today. Well, I guess I didn’t realize I was learning it until today.
I knew I was learning more about his postures and body language, as he and I have gotten better at communicating silently as a result of our work together. I guess it is a natural progression that I would also be tuning into what he is tuning into in the process as well.
What an amazing opportunity this is for me to better develop this awareness while I still have my favorite teacher around.
My dogs have helped me to have a better level of mindfulness than anything else ever has. It seems that I can do even better with the help of my Buddha dog.