Next week, my dog, Ollie, has to go to the Vet, and have part of his tail amputated. Those who have read all my posts will know the history of this, and be aware of the reason for this impending surgery. But this post is not really about that, I digress.
Anyone who has a dog, or has ever had one, will be able to understand some, if not all, of this post. There is something emotionally overwhelming about the affection and devotion that a dog shows to its owner. I use the popular term owner, but in reality, a better word would be companion. I may own a dog, but I am also his companion, his provider, and his mentor. His love, and loyalty to me are like nothing else I could ever experience. No human emotion could even come close, because we have opinions, thoughts and fears, doubts and worries. The love of children does not carry the same selflessness, and even the love of a mother for her children, perhaps the strongest, most unselfish there is, does not match that of a dog for its owner.
As far as he is concerned, I can do no wrong. If I leave him, he does not meet my return with recrimination, or complaint, rather with an excited spinning, frantic tail-wagging, and a genuine desire to see me back. If I spend all day with him, he is content to lie under my legs, doze on his bed, or chew a toy, as long as I am nearby, or at least in sight. If I forget to feed him, he waits patiently, and if I forget to let him in from the garden, he waits patiently. Every time I move, or adjust my sitting position, he is instantly awake and alert, ready for anything we might be about to do. If I open the back of the car, he jumps in, ready and willing to accompany me anywhere, without so much as a moment of hesitation.
His only request, is the occasional acknowledgement of his presence; a pat, a stroke, or the crust from my toast. He greets callers and guests with hospitality; as I have let them in, he presumes that they must be alright. He doesn’t destroy anything, take something he is not allowed to have, or interfere in any business that is not his to bother with. If I move from one room to another, he is instantly by my side, and wants no more than to go everywhere I go, and to see whatever I see. I have no doubt that he would die to defend me, or mourn my loss for the rest of his life. If I allow someone to take him off on his lead, he goes uncomplainingly. If I say it is alright, then he trusts me implicitly.
After almost two years together, I am still uneasy about that trust. When I lead him in to see a Vet, he trusts me that he will come to no harm, and not be hurt in any way. If I took him into a forest, tied him to a tree, and left him all day, he would just wait for me to come back; trusting completely in his belief that I will return. It doesn’t even occur to him that I would harm him, scold him unduly, or ever leave him for good. No matter how long he has known me, that devotion and trust remains undiminished; if anything, it is reinforced by time.
It is something tremendous, and I don’t know if I will ever get used to it.