Walking with Dogs, Sitting with Cats


Dolphin As Rock Star

I’m with Brutus, the shepherd mix, at the condo complex I call the “resort.” It’s in the low 60’s, sunny and windy. I am on spring break from the university. This is a fine “staycation” as I can use the gym, the pool and the hot tub. Brutus’s owners are scuba diving in Venezuela.

At noon Brutus wants to go to a small waterfront park in the back of the condo complex. I know this because he looks up at me and then heads in that direction, checking now and then to see if I am following. He loves it there because he can sit on the seawall and spend his time sniffing and watching. His black nose moves in little twitches to catch the scents in the air, in the water.  I set the timer on my phone for a half hour of meditation and sit cross-legged next to Brutus who lies down next to me on the cement seawall. In a few minutes Brutus jumps up and barks.

I know from other times, this means a dolphin is nearby even though I cannot see him.  Brutus drags me along as I grab hold of the leash. I know he wants  to get to the end of the dock and I jog there with him. Then comes the silver streak of dolphin rising and falling slowly, gracefully several yards away. I am as excited as Brutus though I’ve seen many dolphins now over the twelve years I’ve lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. What is it that makes Brutus and me catch our breaths when we see this creature? Why do we both yearn to get as close as possible?

Dolphins are like the rock stars of the ocean. Great publicity precedes them in the form of both true anecdotes and folk tales: saving drowning people, exhibiting an intelligence that is at least on par with humans, being skilled navigators and communicators. We are both mammals and similar in many ways. Personally, I am taken by their eyes. It’s rare to be near enough to see their eyes, but when I have I felt a longing to look more closely. Their eyes are like a dog’s, expressive and so like a human’s eyes. Thoughts, I think it has something to do with thoughts I cannot know that emanate from their eyes. I don’t see the same in the eye of a bird or a fish or a gecko.

I lead Brutus back to the seawall and grass where we can both sit. The dolphin’s fin still rises and falls in the same area. It seems there might be a lot of food in this part of the bay today. A dolphin watching boat rolls into the bay. The tourists call out and clap for the dolphin they hope to find here–it’s said they like the sound of clapping and will show up. We are all enchanted and here it is again–that wonder we all seem to feel when we spot a dolphin. It’s like the energy that fills the air when we catch sight of a celebrity we admire. Wow! Is that so and so? It is! Look, over there; that’s him!

The dolphin surprises Brutus and me by zooming just below us along the seawall. I am surely envied by the tourists for this close up. Brutus barks and pulls on the leash, but I’m delighted. The dolphin is high up in the water, nearly above it and we have a clear view of the long smooth sweep of his body. Some dolphins I’ve seen are chunky, sweet and almost goofy looking, but this one could go to a black tie affair. His elegance is clear by the nonchalant and  powerful way he seems to command his environment.  I catch the slightest glimpse of a dark eye. He flips over churning up the water, then slaps it with his tail up  near enough to get us wet. I laugh and want him to splash us again as if that will bless me somehow. And it does.





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