The Strange Case of the Tail Wagging the Dog

Today I was woken up around 3.30 in the morning by the sound of Lola trampling all over her tin food plate. Lola’s blindness is darker than the darkness of the night.

I went back to sleep after the unpleasant hiccup in my sleep. I am lucky it was not one of those nights when Lola struts around, whining and panting heavily, regardless of the time of the night, making it obvious it is time for her to go out for a walk to pass urine or poo. I prefer the option of taking her out to the road for a grouchy walk rather than endure cleaning the room in the dead of the night.

Despite Lola’s age, her slow reflexes and even the occasional messing up of the house she is a big part of my world. The feeling is mutual. Right now, as I type on my computer, she is lying down, right next to my feet, enjoying the closeness. When she is awake, she follows me all around the house, finding me with her astonishing sense of smell.

At 14 years, Lola is very, very old for a pug. These days, she walks slowly and with great difficulty. She literally drags her body when she moves.I am so glad I treat her affectionately despite she being a big pain at times. Taking her for her morning and evening walks, carrying her in my arms when she is unwell, applying ointment on her deeply furrowed face almost daily, cooking her food of beef, carrots and rice, bathing her every fortnight, giving her the thrill of her life by allowing her to drink water from the cup of my hand and caressing her often are part of my rituals.

It is likely that I am attached to Lola not just because of the love she expresses. She is valued also because she has been there to receive my love.

Not all people are amused by the care I give Lola. A few maid servants have mockingly said they wished to be reborn in their next birth as a dog in my house. My wife’s plea is, I care for her with half of the affection I shower on Lola.

It is wonderful to have developed the capacity to ignore Lola’s misdemeanours. but very disingenuous to have my antennae fine-tuned for pouncing on even minor transgressions from my wife who loves me with all her heart.

What is it that makes me latch on to supposed transgressions of my wife – instead of simply ignoring the mistakes? Experience tells me, what I pay attention to, grows. So, when I react to a mistake with strong emotions, its gravity multiplies manifold, the mistake develops legs and they trample all over my mind, creating new neural pathways and cementing some old ones.

I have noticed, after I punish Lola for a mistake, the frequency of the mistakes only increases. It is also very evident that she is mortally afraid of causing nuisance. Fear causes unintended outcomes.

When I put people in a mould by labelling them, they pretty much become that image. That is the power of self-fulfilling prophesies. How we visualise and treat a person through word and deed is fleshed out over a period of time.I recently came across the word anthropomorphism. The dictionary meaning is, “the showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character or behaviour.“

I lavish love and care on Lola as if she were a human with human feelings. No, no, I am not suggesting that I regret caring for her this way.

On the other hand, I have discovered I am capable of treating a human being as child of a lesser God. It’s strange to imagine the tail wagging the dog.

Sometimes, as Lola sleeps (this is what she does most of the time, these days), I gaze at her, feeling grateful for her presence. There is also this lingering fear that she is slowly slipping away.

In the silence of these days, I gaze at my wife in my mind’s eyes and walk back the accusations and create images that are loving and caring. I choose more often to travel on the less travelled, but heart- warming road made soft by attention, freedom and love.

One great relationship is enough to change my equation with the world. Sometimes, one swallow does herald the spring.


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