I’ve always loved dogs. I had a couple of puppies when I was a kid, but they didn’t last long around the house, and it always ended in mystery because my parents never explained what happened to them. At 24, I got my first dog as a grown-up to complete the “wife, house and dog” picture, and I’ve had dogs ever since, with the exception of a couple of years of a between-marriage period.
Right now I have two dogs, Free Spirit and Charlie. Free Spirit’s mother was a golden retriever, and his father was a poodle, and he’s first generation of this combination, which in the dog world is called F-1. Charlie is an Australian Labradoodle, and he’s five generations, which makes him an F-5. Both dogs are big and they’re incredibly fluffy.
All Free Spirit and Charlie want is to be loved and to play, and most of all to be given treats! I have never seen an aggressive action from either of them. They have free run of the house, and we get along fantastically. Finally someone to get along with and who I can make happy!
Here are my thoughts about why it’s so simple to get along with dogs:
I believe that we human beings have a built-in “Wi-Fi system” that is always searching for similarly-wired systems (people). This is part of how our brains work. The success of this Wi-Fi system for us as individuals is closely related to how attuned we are; in other words, how well both our Wi-Fi and our curiosity systems work. This depends on how mindful we are – how much we are truly able to be present in the here and now as opposed to how much we’re into the voice in our head, which is controlled by our past experiences.
When I was young, I thought the voice in my head was me and I never doubted it. I call this being run by my machinery or being on automatic pilot. When we’re on automatic pilot we’re being run by the judgments, interpretations, and coping strategies from childhood that are embedded in our conscious and unconscious mind.
The voice in my head told me how to feel and what to do and I took it at face value, whether it was accurate or inaccurate. I had not yet learned to hear My Higher Self – my Being; it was not in the equation. I wasn’t very attuned at that time in my life.
Once I became aware that the voice in my head was the product of my mind’s filters or interpretations, and, therefore, wasn’t always telling me the truth, I started to listen to other people in a new way: I started listening at the level of subtext.
I learned about subtext when I studied acting for two years at a Meisner acting program. I learned that “It’s never just the words, but it’s always the subtext.” The words change meaning depending on the person’s objective and intention and the emotional resonance that the words are imbued with as a result of what the character wants and does.
SCENE 1: Let’s say that you’re watching a scene in which a woman points a gun at her man and says “I love you so much,” and you know she’s going to shoot because she’s jealous and thinks he betrayed her.
SCENE 2: Same actress and the exact same words, but this time she’s seducing the guy. Now when she says “I love you so much” – the same words – it has a whole different subtext.
As I became more mindful, I stopped listening to just the words and listened instead at an emotional level (the subtext),
Today I work to experience people at the level of their machinery or how they are “wired.” Take the example of being with a child having a terrible tantrum. At first you might think this is a poorly behaved child who probably never got good parenting, but if a moment later you learn the child is autistic, you have empathy for the child, knowing it’s his condition and not poor parenting that causes this behavior, so you’re okay with it even if it’s uncomfortable.
Another example is if I’m doing business with someone who just won’t stop bargaining. I pick up that his machinery is wired in such a way that he just has to “win,” so I let him win on little things to keep the relationship workable.
It’s the same If someone I know is shy and introverted and can’t look me in the eye, because now I understand it at the level of machinery, and I can be loving without getting much back emotionally because I understand that’s just how he or she is.
It’s the same if I’m with a woman who flirts with everybody and needs a response from all the men in a room. I don’t take it personally because I can see that her machinery makes her like a bee pollinating flowers; she is wired to make her flirtatious.
What does this have to do with dogs?
People are so complex, and everything I’ve talked about in terms of machinery, subtext, and attunement takes so much energy while I get great warmth from my dogs and they don’t deplete my energy at all. (And when they do, I can put them in the backyard for a while!)
It’s satisfying for me because I can generally fulfill my dogs’ needs but with two marriages behind me, my track record isn’t as good with wives.
My Wi-Fi system picks up the dogs’ unconditional love without any complications. No matter what time I wake up, the dogs are patiently waiting to greet me with licking and wagging tails. If that isn’t love, what is it?
The very presence of the dogs is comforting. They bring warmth. It’s like having an air purifier – it’s a vibe purifier. It’s like having a scented candle in the room.
Dogs don’t want jewelry. They don’t get an allowance. And the absolute worst thing they do is making a mess in the house. Dealing with that doesn’t take a marriage counselor or attorneys. It just takes plastic gloves and a trash bag.
The dogs’ Wi-Fi system has far fewer needs than mine. Their love comes in “local color” just like cartoons. Donald Duck is always white and his cap is always pure blue; dogs are always generating a pure love, and their needs are food and shelter and to be loved back.
If my dogs want to play and I don’t have patience for it, they will love me just the same. Dogs make me feel safe and easy.
And I do love playing with my dogs, which often reminds me of how nice it was to play with my children when they were three and four years old, and I could always make them laugh with a joke.
Both Free Spirit and Charlie have dispositions that are just pure honey; that’s as good as it gets for me.
- 11 Jul, 2013
- Posted by Steve Fogel
- 0 Comments