We do a lot throughout the day. Walks. Coffee and treats. Naps. Playing in the yard with a fabric kind of Frisbee or some other weighted toy. I talk a fair bit to him while all this goes on: “Out of there.” “Off.” “Leave it.” “Good boy.” “Water?” “Pee pee?” “Let’s go home.” “Dinner’s almost ready.” “I love you.” “Move over.” “Let’s go this way.” And a whole lot more, sometimes trying to negotiate our way out of my garden, a patch of poison ivy or a snow bank.
Though we understand a lot, I’ve come to learn that his language, and mine too isn’t my collection of disembodied words or his random barks.
When we are tugging at that toy in the yard we are one hundred percent in our own moment. Engaged with each other and connected by much more than words. And now that summer is here we go to the beach as often as we can. It is here that we have our routine that may be one step from heaven. He barks, I throw the toy in the water, soon I brave the water too and then soon after I am holding him to my chest, his feet tucked under and I have his whole body close. I am chest deep in the water and he is against my chest, held by me and his buoyancy. From here we walk parallel to the beach, our hearts close. He looks at the shore, moving his head from point to point. He likes to have the shore view as we come around to retrace our steps. We like to go as far as the uneven surface will allow. It is a quiet peace that we are part of. It is there that we both know that we are doing what we and the other loves.
Later, our other activity is called “standing”: I am in the water, now maybe waist deep and he is swimming circles in front of me. I take his front paws and his back ones reach for the bottom. Soon his front paws rest on my forearm and he tries taking one paw, then the other and standing on his own. Then he decides he doesn’t need the arm and takes himself for a little walk as far as the sway of water, current and balance will allow. And yesterday he took yet another step, backwards. He watched me, our eyes locked as he removed his paws from my forearm support and walked backwards, as if he was practicing some sort of dance step. He went back and then returned to my arm. I praised his daring, his creativity.
With him there is no “time to go,” we know when that time has come. But for those precious minutes or hours we have found our meeting place where we can speak the same language and know exactly what is the most important thing in life.