What all Dogs Know

Steve and Vidal

Image: Steve Kuusisto with "Vidal" (a handsome yellow Labrador)–his second dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind:


I don’t want to be a celebrity. I just want to be my dog. Ipse dixit. 


When we hug dogs and smell their fur we’re fully realized. Then we drift back into reason and dogs see we’ve gone to a far room. Empathy matters then. Dogs know we’ve entered a fearful place in a crystal palace of abstractions. They touch our knees. They live only in amazement.


I don’t know as much about amazement as I should. D.H. Lawrence wrote:


They call all experience of the senses mystic, when the experience

is considered. 

So an apple becomes mystic when I taste in it 

the summer and the snows, the wild welter of earth

and the insistence of the sun. 


I understand a dog’s amazement in our company is indeed mystic but only insofar as we consider it. 


I walked up the pale green avenue—7th avenue in New York—end of day, my great guide dog working to keep us safe, working us toward the postulate of arrival, the grandest of things, a task accomplished, going where we had to go. 


I was grieving for my father who had died only a month before. Grief is impossible to maintain so we engage it in small gasps. I saw my father was on an aerial bridge, high in the fading light, the span without end. My father had nowhere to go. And outside a monolithic computer store I began weeping. And my guide dog stopped, turned, saw me stricken, rose up on her hind legs and gently washed my face. I, who could not reason clearly, was being guided in more than one way. My father’s bridge vanished. I heard his laughter. “Beauty,” says the dog, “is very strong.”


We have to let the dogs in. Consider what they know.