What I Learned From My Dogs About Attachment

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Recently someone asked me to think about and describe my favorite place to be, a space where I am irresistibly happy. Without hesitation, I replied, “Bear Creek Dog Park.”

No doubt, it is a beautiful park. Huddled in the foothills with stunning mountain vistas and traced by a gurgling creek, with sunflower-studded hills by summer and color drenched valley by fall, natural beauty abounds. But there are many gorgeous places in Colorado. Just a few miles away, Garden of the Gods, with vibrant rocks towering ethereally over scrub oak trails, attracts visitors from around the world.

I thought about it more. Why Bear Creek Dog Park? And I realized what I love most about the place is a deeply internal beauty I experience there – that of attachment. The dictionary definition of attachment: “a feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal of the like; devotion; regard.”

At Bear Creek, “binding” becomes visible. An abstract, emotional concept emerges in a tangible furry head, a wet nose pressed into my hand.

(click on any photo to view larger)

DSC_0095Siku, Cody, and I romp through the park; and I delight in their “dog-ness.” They splash through the creek, rip-up mud from pattering paws, and tear through the forest at break-neck speed. As greyhounds, they can never be off-leash anywhere but a fenced area because of their innate conditioning to give chase. They wear a perennial smile in this place where they can go anywhere. They are free to explore any of the 25 acres. But the thing is, they don’t.

They stay right beside me. They may sprint in a circle nearby; but within seconds, they are at my side again.

When Cody came home about a year ago, he was the shyest dog I’d ever met. He paced obsessive circles around the same path in the yard for over an hour, refusing to come near a human. For days, I carried this eighty-pound dog across the thresh-hold because he was too scared to walk through himself. He chose the furthest corner in the house to lay down, and never ventured anywhere else indoors for months. Now, he dances wildly through every room, especially when it’s time for a walk (or he thinks it should be); and he loves nothing more than making eye contact and nuzzling noses.

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When Siku came home about ten months ago, he was suffering. Recently neutered, he was also recovering from surgery to remove a tumor; and he nursed a broken leg that retired him from the track. That first day, when I tried to make eye contact, his eyes flashed fire and he growled at me. It was a rough start to our relationship with him as the kids learned to give him lots of space. But as pain slipped into distant memory and he discovered he was safe and loved, Siku morphed into the most loving, loyal dog I’ve ever met. He shadows us around the house and lives to be with us.

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Siku and Cody could go anywhere in the entire park, but they choose to stay with me.

Attachment is a beautiful thing, lighting an interior landscape of healing and wholeness. It’s a place I irresistibly want to be.

And I find myself wondering, how might God feel when we could wander anywhere in the entire world, but we choose to stay near Him?

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3 thoughts on “What I Learned From My Dogs About Attachment

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