You are driving home from a busy weekend at a trial with your dogs. It is late, but if you get home tonight, you can avoid getting a hotel. You are playing over in your mind that judge’s comments, how your cue to your dog was not clear and how you would play it differently next time. Your head is ringing, you have a searing pain in your leg and you realize you are upside down and pinned in your car. Your car! Your dogs! Where are the dogs? You try to turn around and the first thing you see is the passenger-side front door crumpled into the car. What happened? The dogs. You keep trying to turn and now you are screaming their names and partially screaming in terror. You realize the whole side of the car is peeled back like a sardine can. A crate. No – that’s half a crate. Where are the dogs? You hear sirens. Good. Help to find the dogs. You scream louder. Faintly you hear something and stop. It’s coming from in the car with you. Behind some gear and in the back corner behind you, you can hear one of your dogs. Faint whimpers. Someone is at your window and you are reminded that you are upside down by the bizarre face that startles you, then yells “We’re going to get you out of here!”
“My dogs! Please save my dogs!”
Dog people are not just people who own a dog. Dog people are people who are the lucky few who discovered at some point in their lives the incredible bond that can form between a human and their dog. It is not a bond like the one that forms between people. It is a different kind of bond, one that has a special language that transcends species barriers; one that is always there – even when you are in a bad mood; And one that is felt in the deepest pits of who you are. Dog people don’t own dogs, they have a family that includes dogs. Dog people also bond well with other dog people. Maybe they find comfort in being around other people who have hearts big enough to love a dog the way they do. Hearts big enough to handle the hard part of being a dog person. The part of life that dog people have to face is that, without much doubt, there will come a day when their soul mate dies. For most dog people, this will happen over and over in their lives. Most dog people give their entire time on earth to the joy of seeing a dog find happiness in moments with them. They know that their dog loves them and their happiness is so entwined. A celebration at the end of a spectacular trial is not about that trial, it is about the success of the team, the work and the knowledge that they worked together to achieve a goal. Dog people know that their dog understands all of that.
Dog people know that their bond is one that is connected to the deepest part of a person. It is the kind of part that if pulled hard enough could cause a person to come undone. That is why, when tragedy strikes, dog people become more than just individuals, they become a community. When someone who is a dog person, sees or hears of another dog person who has suffered great tragedy, the news isn’t read or heard, it is felt – deep in that part that could pull them inside out. They know that, in that situation, they would need every ounce of strength to stop themselves from coming undone. It is from that deepest part that they find a connection to the tragedy and to the person living it.
This week, someone in our community was in a terrible accident. We may have never met Elicia who lost two dogs in a tragic accident this week, but we know. That deepest part of us pulled us to her, just as it has pulled us to others in our community in the past. We felt pain at the news of her car accident and the horror in the realization that two dogs were missing somewhere in the desert. Not one of us batted an eyelash at the idea that she checked herself out of the hospital with a punctured lung to go find her dogs (we would do the same). We cried when Nika was found dead and we cried even harder when we heard the joyous news that Tobie had been found alive. The community of dog people from all over sent prayers, forwarded posters, rallied to help and raised an incredible amount of money tohelp Elicia and her dogs.
For dog people who spend their whole lives putting their dogs first, the first and biggest concern is not for their car or themselves. Their concern is, as it always is, for their dogs. Dog people know that as much as we rely on our dogs for so much, they truly rely on us for more. When a terrible accident happens, it is easy to begin talking about what could have been different, but an accident is an accident. We want to hold them tight, protect them and never let them go. But what dog people know, deep in that part that can pull you undone, is that one day you will have to say good-bye to this being who loves you so deeply and purely. While guilt and remorse may cause us to blame ourselves in the case of an accident, dog people also know that a dog loves too purely to ever think you did anything wrong. Dog people know that one of the reasons that we love our dogs so much is even in their last breathes their only thoughts of you are filled with love and the desire make sure you are safe.
Dog people are a special breed of people, because we do survive even the most tragic of losses. Dog people go on to somehow find more love to give when they meet that next dog for the first time and that dog looks into that deepest part of them and licks their face in understanding