In this chapter you jump right into the idea of the heart-to-heart connection. This is a literal connection more so than a metaphor. From a feeling perspective, the emotional behavior of a dog reflects the emotional life of the owner. This relates to the notion that emotion is a universal experience that pulls at you and pulls at your dog (and the entire animal kingdom for that matter). Through Kevin’s anecdotes, you learn that the conclusions you make about observing your dog’s behavior isn’t about projecting your emotions on to the dog; rather, it’s actually tied right there to the title of the book: the relationship between you and your dog is like looking at yourself in the mirror. This includes the emotional ties you have to events of the past and your present and how that affects you emotionally. Why does this happen? Why dogs and humans? According to Kevin, we “have the same primordial emotional makeup” (p. 9). At our animal cores (both humans and dogs) we share a network that flows from the up-link in our hearts. From an evolutionary perspective: dog and man are in it together!
This chapter made me think a lot about one of our two dogs, Bella. As described in the About section, we adopted her in the Fall of 2007 when she was about 8 weeks old. She was found abandoned on a chain at a house with an eviction notice on it. I won’t get into the full details but most people we tell the whole story to usually have a strong emotional reaction: “how could someone do something like that, poor thing!” Well, there’s more to it for me than what we usually tell others. When I was in graduate school, just before moving to Greencastle, I was searching for a Husky to adopt. My wife, God bless her soul, had to put up with my pleading every time we saw a Siberian: I’m like a kid when it comes to dogs. But this was interesting to me because despite all of my time and research in getting a Husky, the moment I met Bella she stole my heart. I had just started my new job and we hadn’t been in our house for more than a month or so. I got home on a Friday afternoon after work and my wife informed me that a puppy was going to come visit us that evening. I was reluctant at first but the people who had found Bella needed to find her a home quickly so I agreed to at least consider it. Alas, she arrived and this little ball of fur hopped out of the car and into our yard. She trotted around for awhile, circled to the back yard and then back around to the front to greet us. She just seemed grounded, as if she felt, “this is home.” For me, not only was I touched by her story (there was a part of me that felt like she needed to be save), but what I have come to realize over time is that Bella was the one saving me. I missed having a dog and I instantly felt aligned with her, more than any dog I had every owned. I wouldn’t trade her for a thousand Huskies! Oh, by the way: we adopted a Husky a few years later.
Kevin is right on when he talks about a heart-to-heart connection and on a deeper level, the reality of a network/group consciousness. I can’t tell you how many times we have taken long trips and come back to find Bella, perked ears and beaming eyes, waiting for us in the window. It’s as if she feels us getting closer to home. One of my older brother’s has a Rottweiler-mix named “Shaft” who will go straight to the front window of the house and whine. Within ten minutes my brother will show up at his house and every time it is as if Shaft knows his master is approaching. Kevin talks about cross-species connection and I was instantly reminded of this:
Last November I traveled to St. John, New Brunswick and had some time to go hiking. I came upon a tree filled with birds and I curiously approached them as they were not scared off. I held out my hand and one of these birds landed on it. Granted, many people feed these birds so one might assume they are used to humans trekking through, but I couldn’t help but still appreciate the “oneness” I felt with nature.