The human ability to explore the world, educate one's self, stretch one's perception and boundaries of security and comfort should be embraced as well as the emerging visceral feelings and emotions stemming from such experiences.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One Unique, Unforgettable Trip

It is commonly said, "Dog is man's best friend." That always made sense to me on a very basic level when examining the relationship a dog seems to build around their owner. The owner feeds and cares for a dog in a way none other does. The dog is dependent on the owner for a number of things therefor making a positive connection a more than viable result of the relationship. Through the provision of the dog's basic needs the owner is rewarded with an unwavering loyalty and what can easily be labeled as a "best friend."

Doing his Lion king impression.
What I did not fully grasp until recently was how an owner can develop a dependence on his dog. The level of this dependence can be effectively managed to a degree by how much of his life in which an owner wishes to include his barking bro. For example, an owner who keeps his dog outside will naturally separate the related emotions and feelings derived from human relationships from those he relates to his relationship with a canine who he interacts with on a limited basis. Another owner who treats his dog in a way more closely aligned with the humans for whom he cares through means of snuggling, "conversating," socializing, and other seemingly quirky activities, will most likely blur the delineation between the different types of relationships.
He was quite popular at the parks.

I am not necessarily going to take a stance on how a dog should be raised, and what type of relationship should be groomed in the process because there are evident factors in each case that will determine how an individual chooses to interact with their pet. The differences with which people approach such a matter could be debated ad nauseam without resolution, and to me it is a rather moot point holding very little worth in debate in the first place. That is until something happens to your four legged friend.

When we take on a pet we are knowingly entering into a very limited relationship on a number of levels. A pet may "listen" to you, but he will never completely understand you, and there is very little chance they will respond intelligibly. Also, we know that no matter what kind of relationship we foster with a pet it will only last for a limited period of time as they only live for so long. It is in this dynamic that a relationship with a pet is so unique from the very first time you lay eyes on a potential four-legged companion.

Maybe we do not dwell on a pet's life expectancy when we engage in the selection process, but on some level we weigh the excitement of a new addition to the family and the memories to be created with the inevitable truth that we will have to say goodbye at some point.

No relationship in this life is guaranteed, but because of the known limitations of the time you will have with a pet, the responsibility you embrace from the day you take a particular fuzzball home goes far beyond food, walks, and baths. You understand that, barring an unfortunate turn of events, you will outlive your pet, but during the time you have you will nurture and provide in whole for your pet. Despite this, in the pit of our being we know the joy procured through the many days to come, as fleeting as they may prove to be, will far outweigh the pain actualized in their passing.

My experience was one I would have trouble fully capturing in words in a blog. My first dog, Trip, was, like most dogs, a loyal companion. What distinguished Trip from the other canines I have encountered was his unique ability to calm your soul with a unabashed joy and excitement, draw you in with his expressive eyes, and steal your heart within moments of meeting him. Since his passing, a number of people have reminded me of the fear of or distaste in dogs they once harbored. They had somewhat different stories, but they were all connected by the bond they made with Trip.

Trip had it all. He was a rugged explorer, a goofy klutz, a superior snuggler, and a loyal buddy. People have recently mentioned how lucky he was to have had me as an owner, but I can't help but look at it the other way around. It wasn't about what I was able to do for him. It was about what he did for me on a daily basis. This may sound melodramatic, but their are specific points in my life when I could not have imagined where I would have been without him. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had that dog in my life, and it is definitely all for the better.

A unique relationship indeed, from start to finish. One I may enter into once again down the road. For now, though, I will bathe in the warmth of the glow gleaned from a seemingly endless store of memories of the adventures I had with Trip.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Andy.


Andy G said...

Man, I miss that dog!

RM said...

Trip was the best man. Never forget when you got him. One of my fondest memories was when we filmed my silly Survivor audition on Lake Artemesia, you had just gotten Trip and the lake was frozen over. He was so goofy on that ice. Seriously great friend.