5.7
January 6, 2015

The Benefits of Doggie Style.

Angelica/Flickr

I sat down on the back porch last night to have a chat with my dog. I tried to explain the New Year to him.

He didn’t get it. He kept turning his head sideways, like the old RCA dog. He does that when he just can’t make any sense of what I am saying. He does it a lot when I talk.

I imagined what he might be saying: “So how is the new year different than the old year?”

I had to explain that it isn’t really different. In fact, it is only different if I make it different.

“How would you do that?” my dog might ask.

Well, I make it different by pretending that I have a fresh start. Imagining that I will eat better or work out more, or work smarter or be more loving.

“Seems to me that each moment is a new start whether it is a new year or not,” my dog might say.

Yes, you can start over each moment, but the end of one year and the beginning of the next year seems like the perfect time to really have a fresh start.

To this my dog rolled his eyes showing the bit of white that surrounds their deep brown center.

Changing the Subject.

One nice thing about talking to the dog, his name in Bindy, is that he lets me change the subject anytime I want and he never interrupts me. He obviously wasn’t going to understand why the New Year was so different. I vowed to imagine that maybe he was right, maybe I can start fresh anytime. Maybe the way he thinks, without past or future, is a bit more enlightened than the way that I think.

Part of why I was on the back porch talking with my dog that morning was because my girlfriend and her daughter had just left after a week long visit for the holidays. They left me and Bindy in Georgia and headed back to St Louis.

Again, I imagined his side of our conversation: “Why did they leave?” he would probably ask.

He seemed continually inspired by people arriving, with tail wagging and a bounce in his step. But he didn’t seem to like it when they left. I didn’t like it when they left either. I couldn’t imagine how to explain to him why they would leave.

I began to explain by saying that my girlfriend had work to do on Monday and her daughter had to finish up her senior year of high school.

“What is Monday?” Bindy might ask, putting us right back in the same time bound discussion we had about the New Year.

To Bindy there aren’t days of the week. There isn’t anything that has to get done at a particular point in time. Several years ago, I put an old IBM clone computer next to his doghouse. To this day he has never used it. He lives without deadlines, appointments or problems. I guess he just doesn’t really understand much about life.

Or maybe I don’t. Maybe there are some benefits to the doggie style of living.

I scratched his neck and the top of his head, rubbed his ears and down his back. Maybe all that touching was distracting him from our conversation. Or maybe our conversation was distracting me from the pleasure of patting him.

I sat and he lay next to me silently for a few minutes. At first I was tempted to speak but when I didn’t, I began to notice the nuances of rubbing up and down his back, how focused he was on the sensations and how focused I could be too.

The silence and sensations became quite pleasant. I vowed to have more touching and less pointed conversation with my girlfriend next time I saw her.

Talking Again.

After a few minutes, I pondered what a dog day must be like. What would it be like to have nowhere to go, nothing to prove and nothing to improve. What if I just experienced where I am in the moment? Spending some unstructured time like that might just make this a very new and different year. It might transform my relationship with my girlfriend and my relationship with myself.

While it wouldn’t work for me to change my entire life to a dogs outlook, a few minutes a day might just lighten me up and provide some unstructured enjoyment. I could certainly use more of that.

Bringing both of my hands to a spot behind his ears and scratching just so, a practice that seemed to send him into incredible, partially closed eye, left rear leg tapping pleasure I said, “Thanks, I am glad we had this chat. I really appreciate all that you teach me. Happy New Year!”

Yes, I will do a little more nothing in the new year, a little more presence without the past proving who I was and the future offering who I might be.

Later that evening I noticed the moon, a small crescent in the sky and without even meaning to let out a little, deep, primal howl.

It felt good, like a new me in the new year…

 

 

 

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Author: Jerry Stocking

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Angelica/Flickr

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