spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureRashad's dog, Chloe/Alison R.
Was my impetuous act one of generosity or of madness? I agreed to keep Rashad’s dog, Chloe, for the month of July while he was in Europe. It’s not as if the dog and I were well acquainted. In fact, the night I met Chloe is the night I agreed to take her. Perhaps it was the way we met that prompted the impetuous yes to Rashad’s query about caring for the dog. As my friend and I came into his house, this little dog bounded across the room into my arms, clearly preferring me to any other dinner guest. She had me at hello.

So it is with a certain bemused curiosity that I look at my decision-making process if impulse can be called a process. I am finding that bemused curiosity also helps me balance the other feelings that come up in the process of caring for a small leaping creature in a condo with no yard. I feel hyper-responsible, if there is such a condition, certainly less free to come and go. Very much like a parent.

Although we are in the first week of this month-long adventure, it is certainly with bemused curiosity that I note how quickly the dog has figured out our routine for taking her on her necessary forays into the neighborhood. She knows that going downstairs means we take the stairs. She always turns left immediately outside the building and from there explores the world according to trails of smells left by other dogs. Back from the walk, she knows to head for the elevator. It’s not a long ride from the lobby to the second floor, but it is enough time for Chloe to position herself for an adroit leap out just as the elevator doors open. I couldn’t say how other dogs get on or off elevators, but that Chloe figured it out so quickly impresses me.

Without access to an enclosed yard, Chloe has to be in a harness she doesn’t like if we are to go on our multiple strolls through the dried up grasses of neglected lawns on McAllister, Laguna and Golden Gate. She cowers when I put on my black coat because she knows we are going out and this will mean a harness and leash. She can’t be trusted to obey traffic signals or second-guess the speeding cars on Gough. When Chloe is home with Rashad, she can always go downstairs through a doggy door into a yard. Safety is not an issue.

Rashad had told me his dog doesn’t bark, so it was with bemused curiosity that I heard her growls turn to full throated yaps when she saw shadows from blowing trees.  I will have something to tell Rashad when he gets back.

Clearly, in the month of July, Chloe and I will be partners on “the path.” I have been searching out web sites that purport to teach dogs to meditate. So far the suggestion I like best is the one that must be intended for owners of small dogs because the instructions say to lay the dog on the owner’s chest and synchronize the dog’s heart beats to one’s own. Maybe this will happen spontaneously. When I lay Chloe on my chest, I feel incredibly peaceful but then need to use a clothes brush.

It is certainly with bemused curiosity that I observe Chloe’s decorum while I am in my morning meditation. She doesn’t leap on me or bound around the room in a high-energy mode, but lies at the foot of the bed on the cushion I have put out for her. Being with Chloe always produces a Zen state if Zen state means being in the moment.

As well as a practice in being present, a dog is serious business, so it is with even more bemused curiosity that I observe the annoyed, pleasurable, and burdensome emotions that arise since I assumed responsibility for another’s being, in this case Rashad’s dog Chloe. And we are only going into week two.

7/10/2013 04:09:57 am

Enjoyed the posting found it interesting that on Forum today the topic of dogs in the city was discussed. I like well behaved dogs and people.

7/10/2013 04:52:21 am

I like them too, although the other kind are more interesting!!!

Linda Posner
7/13/2013 03:53:39 am

Love it! Especially hyper you sentences. Smile when reading your descriptions and lovely sharp mood changing. The dog on chest, meditative and hairbrush. Little Haikus everywhere. Love it. Thanks from a not secret admirer.

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