the hounds of love

Friend Sarah sent me updates from the finish line of the Iditarod. And she sent this (link below), which I’m posting in part to come back to and also to share this work, which I’m curious to read. It’s a thrilling interview.

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a.k.a. the empath

My second cause in life was dogs, after worries about dwindling farm subsidies (which I used to lay in bed and cry about when I was small). I’ve learned so much about people by being a dog steward to rescue dogs or dumped dogs, and volunteering in the olden days at Anti-Cruelty Society. As a highly sensitive person and survivor of trauma, I’ve incredibly identified with dogs — their primary confusion at our coarse, human actions and behaviors, and their purely earnest responses and feelings.

It surprises me not at all that justice among dogs is something we can learn, and learn from. I was just listening to a Carolyn Casey talk where she relays a story about how chimpanzees exhibit and model non-violent revolution. In it, a studied, exiled chimp from a chimp community found a tin can and started rolling it and making beats and percussion. The other chimps were so impressed, they eventually made that chimp the leader. Almost all of the models and answers we need are in nature already.

It’s no cultural secret that we vilify not only certain dog breeds (and often the wrong ones — German Shepherds, associated with law enforcement are the cause of most human attacks… funny how that escapes the mass consciousness) but their human stewards by extension. An image that always sticks with me year after year is that of the rescued dog fight dogs at Anti-Cruelty Society, those just above so far gone that they were given a chance at rehab. They would be shortly tethered near a highly trained volunteer — usually an African American male — with a chalk circle drawn around them, letting us underlings know to stay away from the perimeter.

Day after day the dogs would just sit in the circle, noses pointed down, peering up, supremely skeptical and holding themselves in a muscular half-brace, ready in case anyone or anything suddenly started toward them. I always wondered how many were actually able to be rehabbed. I have at times identified with both the dogs and the handlers. Those dogs and their partnership with the volunteers are of course reflections of many of our life experiences.

The canine / volunteer relationship becomes an exchange of energy about risk in trust, love, and healing; if we can love ourselves and trust enough to greet change, if we can risk vulnerability to another, and if we accept the new programming that ushers a new experience and life. The primal nature of the instincts, in all animals, only makes it easier to see how binary our choices can feel, when in actuality it’s the day after day showing up of the volunteer and building the new patterns — or experimenting by trying new things… repeatedly rolling the tin can in new, interesting ways — that makes the difference.

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a.k.a. me, but as a dog

As my own canine girl gets older, grayer at the muzzle and more grumbly, and my boy settles into adulthood with his epilepsy hopefully totally managed now, every night before bed I whisper to them, repeating: “good dog, you are such a good dog.” I do this in part because it’s a true expression, but also to create the pattern for the day that comes when I will have to hold them while they leave, and I will repeat it over and over while they pass, and hope that they know how much I mean it because I have said it so often… created that neural pattern. And most importantly, I will thank them for making me a better person and for loving me even on the days I wasn’t able to love myself — for being my stewards, as I am theirs.

What Dogs Can Teach Us About Justice: A Conversation with Colin Dayan

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(editor’s note: Mercury Retrograde is on. Thinking of communicating a big decision? Making a large purchase? Signing important documents? Responding to messages from exes or approaching an old interest? Leave it be! Mercury is mucking up our works and thinking, and depending on the house it’s in, you might regret steps taken now. Mercury Rx doesn’t just frustrate daily communication, it mucks up communication between our hearts, heads, and intuition. On the other hand, it can make for really methodical and intricate communication, if what we are trying to communicate will benefit from parsing and understanding — slow communication that revisits existing topics and themes versus broad strokes. As usual, double check details, schedules, and facts… and leave the big decisions for later, especially those of y’all who are more energetically perceiving. Mercury Rx is a time to revisit, renew, reconsider, renergize. Don’t be dictated to by transits. Don’t let them bandy you about like a stray pebble in a clothes dryer. Use their energies to grow. We are still under the influence of the healing Pisces new moon, and for the next 6 mos. It’s one that is going to show us where and how we need to (and are now able to) heal… and it probably isn’t going to look anything like we think it should, or would. Have faith to let the next months unfold; change toward a more verdant, emotionally salubrious, and elemental life. Don’t grab or force decisions right now in order to feel a false sense of control. That’s a reactive human recipe for missing out on the far greater gifts we are being asked to receive and let unfold.

(More in depth, I really like this synthesis from embodied astrology. Especially if you are feeling this one more or wanting to understand how this is functioning in the sign of Aries.)

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