I stopped to talk with this person in the parking lot-a bubbly, elder lady with red hair that didn’t match her age-when I began to drift from the conversation because I could not get over how much she looked like her ‘Muffy’, an English toy spaniel. Same exuberance. Same little grandma face. Even the same hair color. A perfect couple having a great time sharing an ice cream cone at McDonald’s. And I do mean sharing.
It has long been noted many guardians take on the physical characteristics of their companions, a mystery yet unsolved. Do we become more like them or do they reflect us? And what other qualities mesh together and are displayed when viewed as a partnership? Being sensitive creatures, our animal friends can be great barometers of who we are and how we treat the world. One could hypothesize that the true nature of a person is reflected in how they treat their companions and the reaction of the animal companion to the guardian in a long term relationship.
Consider the reaction of a dog during the correction of a lesson not quite understood. Does she drop to the floor and roll? Does he wag his tail in humor? Does she look the other way? These are cues to how the everyday unfolds for the animal companion and the guardian. Even the simple act of watching a dog go for a walk with his partner translates the true relationship the guardian has with their animal friend. The attention the dog maintains with the other end of the leash when taking this much awaited stroll can describe how attention is translated into everyday life. Is it hurried? Perhaps home life leaves little time for the dog. Is it relaxed and joyous? That is a mirror of a home in harmony.
In the big world outside the home, it is impossible to hide the true person when observing the responses of the animal companion when the relationship has been long established. (Young dogs, rescues and adoptee carry with them the essence of their other guardians or lack thereof and are not considered in this dialog.)
Relationships are the same though they come in many different forms and partnerships. In general, how we treat one relationship is how we treat them all.
A very wise man reminds us of this very fact when one considers the many levels of these simple words.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi - Oct 2, 1869-Jan 30, 1948
Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi would not mind if we added, ‘and how our animals treat us.’