Photo: My dog Yogi five years ago at Ft. De Soto Dog Beach
“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The Death-Bed Edition
A year ago I started this project and only now have I returned. In part, this was because I found this passage about dogs by Whitman when I picked up a book about Animals as Healers. My writer’s block vanished and I knew I needed to write about my magical four-legged companions again. Sometimes that may include the finned or feathered among us also.
I want to be like a dog or cat or dolphin. I think observing them carefully will help me with my Buddhist practice to become a better and happier human being. I am already happily not respectable, as Whitman said dogs are, but as for the rest, I have a ways to go.
Mahatma Gandhi said that we can judge a nation by how it treats its animals, not just its people. I think it may be that he said that because he, like Buddha, like Native Americans, like indigenous people around the world and their shamans share the knowledge of who we really are: a part of all that exists on the earth. Dogs and cats are often considered family because, in fact, they are our relatives in the larger scheme of things.
Today marks the day I am beginning my new blog posts about adventures in pet-sitting. I will post about the places and the personalities and proclivities of the dogs, cats and people I meet as a part-time pet-sitter. Here we go!
I am staying for seventeen days with a dog , Brutus, who lives on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg. This dog has very nice, well-to-do parents who are generous and kind to me because I love Brutus, their lab mix.
Most distinct about Brutus are his large expressive eyes and his “figure” which is blocky with only a slight indentation of a “waist.” It’s been hard to find the halter that would fit him comfortably, but I got one for him for Christmas.
I’m often here at the condo complex called “The Water Club” because Sally and John are frequent travelers. The complex features a water view of the bay, a pool and a hot tub. My brother said I should pay them. for letting me stay here. I have nicknamed this place “the resort” and my friends know where I will be when I say “I’ll be sitting Brutus at the resort.” This is a lifestyle I am not accustomed to. People who live on Snell Isle are accustomed to this lifestyle. Sometimes it feels too Republican-seeming for me and I chafe at the correctness of the place with its tortured landscaping. I identify with the house cleaner more than the residents.
On our walk this morning, we encountered an old British woman. There’s something so charming about old British women. Think Miss Marple and other old lady detectives. I don’t see this charm in many old American women (of which I am one). Something about the plain gray skirt and cardigan she wore, her white blouse, her visibly sagging breasts all added up to an unpretentious, yet dignified, sense of comfort. She seemed comfortable in her skin. Like Brutus.