Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Joy in the Genes
Teaching a Golden to come is a matter of confirming a natural tendency that's hard-wired into a retrieving dog. He feels good coming back to a friend; he feels natural. When he's little, you whistle, clap, and stamp, and when he comes over, you throw a little party for him. He soon learns that coming is super fun.
So nowadays, just whistle or call out "Comet, come!" and he comes over and gives the little wiggle and sit that proclaims, "Look how good I am!"
It's really quite considerate of him to find a toy that's cheap, ubiquitous, and healthy on the teeth.
So I doubt there's anything so human as introspection occurring here, but I know it's not sadness, and I know it's not just exhaustion, and it's rarely a prelude to sleep. It does invite introspection in me, so maybe that's why I identify it that way.
I'm lucky to spend time with two animals who know better than I do how to enjoy and embrace every smell, every texture, every lake (even at 35 degrees), and every paw's contact with cold soil. When they flash gold in the sun, I lose, just a little bit, just for a moment, some of my self-consciousness, my worry over the ten thousand things I haven't finished or haven't done well. And in that little space we've made, there's at least a fragment of simple, unabashed joy.