August 30, 2011


I thought about “Old Yeller” and “Lassie” the other day, and how their courage and loyalty stand out. Those novels came to mind as I was finishing my walk in the park. Ahead of me was a young woman with a large dog, a mongrel that looked like a cross between a German Shepherd and a St. Bernard. The animal was not on a leash, as required, but walked by its owner’s side at a steady pace, undistracted by others of its kind at play. I am careful when I see unleashed pets as I have frail bones and two artificial hips. A dog of any size rushing up in greeting has the capacity to tip me over with dire consequences. I kept a cautionary distance between them and me.

The pair came to a stop at the curbing between the edge of the park and the residential neighborhood opposite it. The woman held her right hand at her side with the fingers pointed out, slightly. Seeming to understand, the dog sat patiently, looking up at its owner. One car passed and then another. When the third had gone by, the woman lightly flicked one finger, a gesture which brought the animal to a standing position. Then, together, they crossed the street in safety.

(Yahoo Images)

Seeing the subtle communication between the pair, I marveled at the dog’s obedience and its ability to understand the language of gesture.  But more than that, I was awed by its simple faith in its owner.  The display was touching. 

I hold great admiration for the human species when we do our best and I appreciate that we are remarkable creatures, but as I walked home that day, I kept wondering about the world we might have created if we’d been given the dogs’ unquestioning instinct for love, loyalty and trust.