I define good memories as images of innocence, comfort and joy, all embracing. Such as my childhood memory of getting a parakeet for a pet. It was a nice bird. My buddy.
Which brings me to our grandchildren’s dog, Hammish. A miniature Dachshund who has challenged many intrepid dog whisperers and trainers. Hammish isn’t dangerous. All bark, bark, bark. He watches the grandchildren diligently, or rather watches their food because the instant food can be reached with Hammish’s long nose, gone, disappeared. Oftentimes causing tears of anguish from children. Oh sure, progress has been made over the last seven years but Hammish can bark it away in nanoseconds.
When the family comes to visit on the weekends, I roll my eyes as Hammish bullets into the house, running from corner to corner, ready to terrorize my cats. My cats know a fraud when they see it, and they don’t have to sit to high to be taller than Hammish and watch him loose his bananas.
Author Jon Katz, in his book, Talking to Animals, says dogs aren’t bad, they just need to be understood. They’re a blend of wild and domesticated. They understand through images. Use fewer human words. Katz teaches how to communicate mystically, by picturing images in your head of how you want the dog to behave.
I get what Katz is saying, and I’ve more often than not actually experienced what Katz calls mystical or spiritual relationships with pets and animals. But not with Hammish. His wild side just can’t shut up enough.
Then the other day, our granddaughter and I are finishing lunch. Hammish is sitting in a sunbeam, on alert, but not enough to come steal food. Our granddaughter is calm and happy, and we talk about snow skiing, school, and her latest bracelet making.
She scoots down from the chair and walks over to Hammish. Sits next to him and pets his head. Hammish lets her. No commotion. Peaceful petting continues as Hammish gazes into her eyes.
She says quietly, “Hammish is such a good dog.”
I mentally choke, snort, and stifle myself before saying something that would probably banish this good image or memory.
It wasn’t easy, basically, to shut up myself, but I managed to agree, “Yes, you’re both good.”
A few days later I figured that image was one of the better gifts I received, and gave, this holiday.