My Recent Experience
I sat on the Q train with tears flooding down my left cheek. Emotionally I was fine – but physically, there was what proved to be the tiniest speck of something behind my eyelid that had me on my way to the ophthalmologist.
At the first stop, the man sitting next to me left and was replaced by a couple holding a beautiful puppy. As “Dad” sat down, the puppy immediately tried jumping out of his arms to come to me. When he was finally allowed to do so, he quietly nuzzled into my leg. He changed positions a few times, each time nuzzling in more before drifting into sleep.
I chatted with his humans while stroking the silky fur on his neck, ears, and head. They were heading home from their favorite dog park, which had recently opened at Madison Square Park. I don’t own a dog, but I love watching them play – especially at this park!
Is it only in New York City where people will happily travel 3+ miles (as this family had done) just so their dog can play at a prized location? Well, it is a spectacular dog park, complete with hills and a stream of running water. I’d say it’s worth the ride.
Back to my eye, I questioned out loud if this sweetheart of a puppy thought I was crying and wanted to help me feel better. “Mom” offered that he is very responsive to the emotions of others, so that could be what was happening.
Ever since, I’ve been reflecting on how dogs respond to our emotions – and how they make us feel better.
In the case of my new puppy friend, it felt as though he wanted to get as close to me as possible as he snuggled deeper and deeper into my leg. He kept looking at me with those (yes) puppy dog eyes, which I, of course, anthropomorphized into deep and wise caring.
His warm and simple touch kept me aware that he was there. And as I responded to him, he let me know he enjoyed that, which prompted me to give him more of my attention. What a nice upward spiral of mutual caring!
We cannot know what dogs think, but I do believe it is within their nature to help us in times of need. I last had a dog decades ago and I remember her being next to me while I lay crying about something or another. She came over to me and put her entire head under my chin to lift it up. She wouldn’t stop until my crying stopped.
How profound to know that simply being there for someone can lift them emotionally! Look them in the eye. Give them a warm smile. Words are not even required. And a shift happens.
I got off at my stop with a full heart and a huge smile on my face, basking in the glow of a most delightful encounter, ready to take on the rest of my day.