Four weeks ago my little whippet fractured his skull in a head-on full-speed collision that left me feeling sick with despair. Fearful that my companion of these last three years was about to leave me, I did little more than hold him close and worry every waking hour. If he could make it through the night (and then next...) he'd be okay I reasoned.
But what did I know? The poor mite was in agony, confused and barely able to raise his head. For days the swelling blooded his eyes and he'd whimper if I left the room. What must have been going through his mind?
I often wonder how dogs see the world.
Pretty simply, I expect. We posit them greater intelligence than they have, anthropomorphise their behaviours and interpret their responses from our human perspective. I laugh at owners having one-way conversations with their dogs... don't bark Winston, where're your manners ... only to do the same myself.
Actually, I don't quite. But if it's just me and Oscar in the house I conduct a running commentary on what I'm doing and thinking — or even writing. He sits there impassive as I read each sentence and its intonations aloud — the only whippet to know the pause of a semi-colon!
Not that he'd understand its meaning.
But of course, what dogs do comprehend —and repay in abundance —is our companionship, our care and our trust. Perhaps it's this that bonds us so tightly. For words between us can never be more than superficial — at best, a few nouns and commands that set boundaries or shape routines.
Trust, on the other hand, is mutual and profound.
So too the joy of co-presence; of shared experience, despite our different perceptions. To me the beach is as much sky and memory as it is sand and sea; to him, its smell and sound unfiltered — a place to romp and socialise ... or at least, that's what I sense.
Which is perhaps enough...
Yesterday, we went back to the place of his accident. And he ran and ran... in circle after circle... chasing and returning... fully in his element... checking me in mine. In many ways, it was our most delightful walk this year. Certainly, it drew my broadest smile — for you know what...
He's still the fastest dog on the beach.