So I’m writing a book about my decade spent with “Corky” my first guide dog. When you live with a dog every day and travel everywhere with her you ask yourself questions.
I thought she was heroic. She thought I was hopeless. Question one: “what was Corky really thinking while guiding me?”
I could only surmise what was in her head. This would become a habit.
I imagined the exercise of man-to-canine dialogue was good for the mind. If you play the game properly it means you’re tough minded. For instance, a man thinks his dog is always looking out for him—she’s valiant, non-distractible. This isn’t entirely correct but he chooses to believe it. He needs to think it. After all he has his insecurities.
But he also knew his dog was a dog.
And so, walking in strange cities I thought about my investment in ideas about Corky versus Corky’s likely thoughts.
She watched cars. We were in Wichita, Kansas. I said “forward” and she didn’t budge.
A bus roared past and then a truck.
How had I not heard them?
She’d done her job—had stopped at a curb and had scanned all movement.
I was thinking about all the summers that might remain. How long might I live? What oceans had I yet to swim in?
Oh heroic dog! Who’d saved me! She was “Lassie” and “Rin Tin Tin” rolled into one.
We walked a few blocks and entered Wichita’s Botanical Garden and I asked Corky directly if she felt like Rin Tin Lassie. She wasn’t paying attention to me.
“She’s watching butterflies,” said a woman. “You’re talking to her, and she’s got butterflies on the brain!”
She had a smoker’s laugh, big and phlegmy.
“We have a lot of butterflies here,” she said. “This is the “Butterfly Garden”.”
“Ah,” I said. Smoker woman went away.
“Butterflies and trucks,” I thought, “are equally compelling in a dog’s eyes.”
A bright flash of color. Each appears at the margins of vision. Both warrant full attention. They create amplitude—both ends of the motion spectrum are the same.
“Dogs aren’t heroic,” I thought. “but they are alert, quick, and certain.”
Dogs say: “That’s motion and it’s mine.”
Sitting there amid the Wichita butterflies I saw that it takes some bravery to understand your dog’s view of things.
Once you understand this there’s a purity to it.
A dog sees all the dizzying, big eyed sparks of dailiness.
And doesn’t worry about it.