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Sunday, August 30, 2015


We had arrived at home. Trent pulled the car into our usual parking spot near our apartment and we started to gather up our things to head inside. Since it was a hot afternoon, I opened the car door while I was getting my act together. And that's how I made a new friend. As I was sitting in the car, a chihuahua mix being walked on a leash walked over to me. He put his little paws on the bottom of the door frame, almost climbing into the car. He wagged and politely allowed me to pet him while his human watched. 

As his human very responsibly made a deposit on the dog's behalf in the, ahem, receptacle, I commented that the dog must like riding in cars so much that he was willing to get into a stranger's car for a ride. He smiled and said that the dog doesn't really care much for car rides. Little Max, we learned, was a rescued dog. The human, whose name I am embarrassed to say that I don't yet know, told us that Max really needed to be rescued, and he took him in for that reason. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement grew into a permanent one. 

As the human was talking, Max walked around the front of the car to say hello to Trent. Again, he wagged politely while dog smiling and allowing himself to be petted and admired. We thought Max was a sweet and charming fellow. His human went on to say that he was surprised that Max approached me and was friendly with both of us. Max isn't very impressed with most people. In fact, when he's out and about people will often try and get his attention and ask him to come and say hello to them, but he almost always ignores them.

There's something about having a dog decide that he wants to be your friend that just makes you feel good about yourself. It feels even better when you find out that the dog tends to be a bit standoffish. You see, dogs don't care what kind of car you drive. They aren't impressed or disappointed by the amount of money you have or earn. What you look like is a matter of complete indifference to them. And if you haven't had a chance to shower yet today, who cares? It just makes you more interesting. They don't judge by any of the things that most humans do. They just go by their instincts. They just seem to know which humans love them.

I don't know why animals seem to like me so much. My sister was amazed when we went to South Dakota and stopped at a wolf rescue facility that also seeks to educate humans. The person who went into the enclosure with the wolves told me to come up to the fence and reach out my hand. These two beautiful, wild creatures came up to the fence, sniffed, and licked my hand. I do not exaggerate when I say that my brain almost short-circuited. I was so thrilled, touched, and overwhelmed that I could barely speak.

It isn't just canines, although I have also had European dogs who understood no English at all be incredibly friendly to me. Liz has seen cats that are afraid of everyone come up to me and even want to be on my lap. I have had my hand licked by mountain goats that were crossing the road. One of the coolest things was the experiences I had with the Canada geese that lived at our last apartment complex. One evening I saw them chase away a couple that was walking around the pond where they were raising their young. A goose can beat you up with those huge strong wings, and the couple ran away as fast as their legs would take them.

The next afternoon, I went down to the pond to feed them. As I sat quietly on a large rock, the geese and a family of Mallard ducks spotted me from across the pond. They slipped into the water to come over and investigate. Before long, the adult geese were watching as their goslings came up and took bites off the bread I held in my hands. I sat there for a while and decided to walk back home. As I walked behind some of the geese who were headed the same way, it seemed as if they were making sure that I was safe from any possible oncoming traffic. One of the adults turned its head to look at me, made a soft honking sound, and kept walking. I was surrounded by these geese who were calmly walking along with me. They knew I was safe to be around, so they didn't care.

I really love animals, and apparently they know it. I like to make silly jokes about my "animal magnetism" but I think it's much more simple than that. For some reason, these animals seem to be able to feel my awe and joy at their presence. They know that I mean them no harm and that I just want to share that time and space with them. For a brief moment, they allow me into their world. For me, they are the ones with magnetism, and they draw me to be by their side.

p.s. When I was talking to Max's human, I managed to brighten his day. I told him that hearing that the dog's name was Max made me think of the old How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated special. I was rewarded with a huge smile. Max was named after the Grinch's dog!