Published on August 16, 2021 in Life Newer post   Older post

A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them … A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing…

—Mary Oliver

I guess it is Mary Oliver week for me. If you missed my earlier post this week, read it here.

I suppose one of the “gifts” of COVID has been a little more time to think since there isn’t so much to do. There are many great thinkers whom I respect, but over the years I stopped making time for reading their words or considering their thoughts. I spent the last few days reading Mary Oliver poems, finding new meaning in old words.

The quote above about dogs is not one that I remembered reading before. These days, we sometimes refer to ourselves as our dogs’ “guardians” but mostly, we are still called “owners.”

In general, I think “ownership” applies to things that aren’t alive. Your house, your car, your furniture. None of us can really own another living thing, although goodness knows human history is littered with attempts to subject other living things to our control. And it happens still today.

But regardless of the words we use, the fact is that you cannot control another living thing, whether it be a tree, a rabbit, another person, or your beloved dog. And just as we never know what it is like to stand in the shoes of another person, we never know exactly what it is like to stand in the paws of our beloved dogs. I think there is much to discover when we try, though. When we try to see the world through the eyes of other living things. And in the case of dogs, when we try to imagine the world through their sense of smell and how they feel their way through life with humans. There is so much we don’t know. Remember to look for the unexpected and amazing in every day, even when it is hard, and tell about it! We could all use a little magic every day.


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