Every so often I feel embarrassed that my Face Book photos dwell almost entirely on my dogs. I periodically change course, put up a photo I like – what I call an artsy picture – trees, candles, snow scenes – and get practically no response. A few stalwart “likes” dribble in, but when I switch back to Niko (or previously, Dover), people show up again, hitting the “like” button with wild abandon and even leaving a note or two.
I post pictures of Niko and his friends and predecessors because I am devoted to these friends and I am gladdened by their devotion to me. I find the pictures I post funny, touching, and above all else, I believe that our relationships with our dogs provide mirrors for our own lives and behaviors, our joys, our needs, our desires, our meaning. I suspect that many of Niko’s Face Book human pals feel the same way, and photos of Niko and other dogs stir deep and possible unnamed recognition of moments they have known. Or wish for.
I just finished a reading a book called Two Dogs and a Parrot by the well-known and highly-respected spiritual writer Joan Chittister. She is a writer with a sharp eye for justice and a deft writing style that makes her one of my heroes. The chapters are devoted to Danny, a rambunctious, playful Irish setter; Duffy, a golden retriever who had been groomed for the show ring, but he grew too tall and he was relegated to an unloved section of the kennel and destined for oblivion unless he was adopted; and Lady, a colorful and jaunty bird who showed more human characteristics than I ever thought possible for a bird.
And there it is – each chapter divided into a few of the dog’s or bird’s characteristic quirks, adventures, and misadventures with reflections on a few implied human counterpart behaviors, followed by a page or two riff of related spiritual and psychological insights. Some chapter subheadings are
So remember this: Dogs R us. Dogs are everywhere. Love me love my dog.
And, of course, everyone knows that dog spelled backwards is . . . .