When a Dog Chooses You

Sometimes, it’s in the moment, sometimes for a lifetime.

Years ago, when I was a volunteer at the animal shelter, a shepherd chose me as his person. I’d walk him and train him and wouldn’t let him get away with mischievous behavior. For example, when people approached his kennel, he’d fling himself at the gate and scream. It was un-nerving. But a wise trainer told me to wait him out. And when I did, when I didn’t react to his histrionics, he’d sit quietly and wait for me to open the gate and attach his harness. Then we could proceed with the day’s agenda.
The day I knew he’d chosen me was the day I was in a meeting at the shelter, I hadn’t even said hello to him that day, let alone taken him out for a walk or training session. I heard commotion in the kennels and someone yelled, ‘Caleb escaped!’. He’d blown past someone entering his kennel and then pushed open the gate to the great outdoors. I ran outside to find him sitting patiently next to my car. He’d never been in my car before. That’s when I knew he’d chosen me.

And years before that, when Kiko ended up in another shelter and I was so naive as to think that her people were coming for her…I visited her daily. We’d go to the play yard; I’d throw the tennis ball. She’d lean into me so hard, resting her chin on my knee, ignoring that tennis ball, knowing that I was hers. Fourteen years of fun and adventures and pure love.

Now, this sprite, Josie, who never lets me out of her sight, who might listen to another’s request, but checks with me to make sure it’s what I want her to do. Tonight, she caused trouble while I was occupied with meal prep and then again as we were settling into after-dinner relaxation. Finally, when I was able to focus a glance in her direction, to silently direct her to my side to lie at my feet, the sigh, the relief at being with her person.

She has chosen me. And I accept the honor, privilege and responsibility.

2 weeks ago, Josie had a checkup. Result: low cholesterol. Prognosis – mortality. 10 days of angst with no communication from a veterinary professional, another test, a curt email ‘all is well, recheck in 3 months’.

There is only one thing to do, and that is to be like a dog and live in the moment.

When a dog chooses you. You can choose the dog. And you choose love.

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