Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Wisdom of Babies and Dogs

This past week I've been spending a lot of time hanging out with both my seven-month-old granddaughter, Taivyn, and my three-year-old granddog, Zeus—often at the same time. Both are happy to have my undivided attention, and sometimes they even get it.

As someone who's lived in community for 34 years and has been working with groups professionally for 21, I'm often wading through the jungle of convoluted interpersonal dynamics, looking for clear paths. It's refreshing to be reminded by Taivyn that life doesn't have to be so complicated. She can be crying her heart out one minute, asleep the next, and then all-forgiving when she wakes up, unencumbered by any grudges about how I wouldn't let her poke her inquisitive fingers into the electric outlets right before her nap.

Adults are rarely that straight forward with one another—either in terms of being emotionally artless (with babies, what you see is what you get) or willing to start each new interaction with
a ready smile and a clean slate. Unfortunately, we adults tend to keep score. Worse, we rarely use the same point system or even announce the standings. It's messy.

For his part, Zeus is the embodiment of unconditional love. Just like Taivyn, he's happy to interact with me whenever we make eye contact. Unlike Taivyn, he never pitches a fit. He just wants to lick my face, get his belly and ears rubbed, and go for a walk—in about that order. If he gets turned down, he either tries someone else or just lies down, slows his heart beat, and waits for the next chance. When you run into people like that, you tend to question whether they're hitting on all cylinders ("Why are they so happy all the time?). Canines set such a high bar when it comes to
loyalty and affection that you can understand why some prefer dogs over partners as housemates.

Tomorrow at first light I'm off to a weekend job with a troubled group. While my main motivation for this visit was to be with my son and his family for six days, I realize at the cusp of my departure that I got a bonus. In addition to nurturing family relationships, I also received an unexpected balm after basking for hours and hours in the unalloyed affection and availability of a baby and a dog. I experienced it as a massage for my psyche. Though I didn't know it when I planned the trip, I needed it.

Taivyn & Zeus, this jaded warrior thanks you for your therapuetic ministrations and loving

1 comment:

Dog names said...

Totally agree, dogs are much better companions than humans.