I understand so much more about dogs than I ever did before and there are moments when I wish I was one. I have interacted with packs for years and I have witnessed individual behaviours with both interest and intent. Had I been a dog on July 11th I would have been wary entering the surgeon’s office and sniffed the hand that held my medical file. He was the doctor that had performed my brain surgery and the file contained the pathology report and my prognosis. Had I been a dog, I would have kept a bit of a distance and not put all my faith and trust into a human who had not yet proven himself to be worthy. But I wasn’t a dog so I rushed in, eager to hear and accept anything the wise one had to tell me. I ignored his dismissive nature and apparent lack of interest. I had to ask for the pathology results as they were not forthcoming and I can only assume he referred to some actual report because his glance at the file was quick and his actions seemed like a mock shuffling of papers. Had I been a dog I would have barked as a warning sign that I needed more but instead I silently hoped the tumour was truly benign. When I received the unexpected and surprising news that they wanted to operate again I certainly would have growled had I been a dog. No reason or reassurance was given - I was simply being referred to an optic surgeon. Nothing had prepared me for this so my immediate reaction was to refuse. I knew some of the tumour remained behind my eye but I had been told its growth would be monitored and only if it grew rapidly would surgery be required again. When I explained this to the doctor he looked surprised and reacted as if I had just had a really good idea. No dog would have pretended to accept the falsehood and disillusionment being inflicted, but I did. I stayed longer asking questions and even sought his approval for my decision to refuse further surgery. Had I been a dog I would have squatted or lifted my leg on his lame responses.  

When I left through the revolving doors of the tall and mighty medical building I wished for a porch to crawl under.I felt akin to dogs who are harmed or abused and understood their need to take themselves off and hide as I never had before. I thought of the dogs who had been confident and certain one moment then suffered some unexpected and thoughtless blow the next. The ground beneath them was no longer trustworthy and they sought out a dark and private place where they could feel safe and lick their wounds. I too wanted a small space to hide and feel safe in. A place where I could gather myself.

The dogs had taught me well and I better understood who they were in their moments of confusion and fear. They seek solitude because they need to summon courage, healing and balance once again. I would do the same.

I have witnessed dogs raise their heads after severe abuse or injury and marveled at their ability to still believe in goodness. I have held dogs in my arms and promised they will never be harmed again. I have assured dogs that I will love them better and known that I could. I have asked dogs to trust me and they have. Each one of these dogs believed me and found it in themselves to begin again. I am not a dog but I have learned from the best.