Monday, April 28, 2014

I Feel You

This is Madeline. I'm not quite ready to blog about her yet.

She left this world and our intimate relationship 11 long years ago, but thoughts of her still make the breath catch in my throat. That said, writing a blog about soulful dogs and not including Madeline seems all wrong. So maybe we just peek at a tiny sliver of her today and see how that goes.

Searching for a photo, I came upon this one where her face reminds me of a particular anecdote. It's a story that illustrates one of the many wonders of Madeline: her uncanny ability to know things that a regular being couldn't possibly know.

One day, I was watching TV while Madeline slept two rooms away. For whatever reason, I found myself sideswiped by a memory of my mother who had died years earlier, and I felt newly-bereft all over again, as can happen when you lose your mom. But I didn't move a muscle; I just waited for the sensation to pass.

A single beat after the full-body grieving began, I heard Madeline rise with purpose (not with a stretch and a head shake, which was her wont). She walked directly from the music room, crossed the foyer, and stopped at the threshold of the living room to study me--wearing the very same look you see in this photo.

An instant later she headed for my legs and didn't stop until she was close enough to press the long length of her body up against them. Hard. In the tightest hug she could muster.

Make of that what you will. The science geek in me wants to believe that Madeline could smell a chemical change in my body and responded with an evolutionary drive to do whatever she could to heal a member of the pack, thus ensuring her own safety and propagation of the species (though she had already been spayed, and I might as well have been, too).

But if you knew Madeline--or if you happen to know one of the many, many, many other dogs who share this same skill--then you understand my belief that there was a heckuva lot more going on here.

In my humble opinion, we humans haven't found the right word to describe the connection we share with dogs. ("Symbiotic" is too utilitarian and "psychic" scares people off.) But that doesn't mean it ain't real.

Today I'm going to think of a human in my life who can sense when a person needs comfort and always steps up to offer some. Then I'm going to whisper a special little thank you under my breath.
(I'm sure there's a dog in your life who knew something s/he couldn't possibly have known. I'd love to hear the story if you have a mind to share it. You can always click on my name in the gray box below to find my email)   


  1. First a moment of silence for Madeline. Then, to comment that Pelle did something very similar last week. I wonder if there is a word for that phenomenon in another language?

  2. they are angels in dog's clothing. my equivalent of madeline is Shelby. She truly did heal me and dug a hole in my heart that can only be filled with canine love. After my last one died, Shine, I realized that without a dog, I lost my ballast-the world was too much and only a dog could put back perspective. the universe blesses us with loving dogs.

  3. I think it is a primal connection. Humankind and dogs have had a destiny to work and live together for the ages.

  4. Our sweet Sally, our first puppy had that same ability. She new I was upset almost before I did. My husband jokes that when in the car, she would lean over to lick him as soon as she saw a traffic jam (he is not good in traffic). Love the blog, thanks for the intro.


Be engaged, but be nice.