Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Bocca della Verità is a giant marble disk in Rome, featuring a face of a river god with his mouth open. Although it's origins are not certain, it has been housed in Cosmedin in Rome since the 1600's. Legend had it to prove your honesty you could place your hand in his mouth and speak - should you be telling the truth, no harm would befall you. Should you lie however, it's mouth would shut over your hand... leaving you trapped to face the truth.

Verity as a name is derived from the same root word and means "truth". I wonder if it's not the most apt name she could have gotten. Truth and immedicacy are the gifts dogs give us in exchange for having them in our lives. They are unerring, unfailingly, absolutely and at times uncomfortably and unflatteringly honest... whatever they think, whatever they feel... is in there eyes and able to be read in their every muscle, hair and movement at the very moment it first exists within them. They are incapable of deceit, unable to fathom time or events beyond the moment. Think about how different a thought process that is! It's really rather boggling to think of such an alien mind set. So the dog is then perhaps one of the most accurate mirrors of
ourselves. Whatever we may like to think of ourselves, however we might like to flatter ourselves - even if only in the most private corners of our minds... what we actually are
is reflected back in our dogs eyes at all times.

In doing so they illustrate openly, plainly and without appology our skills in listening, observing, understanding as well as our ability to check our own ego, our degree of respect for our fellow creatures, for mind-sets different than our own, our trust and our belief in the strength of our relationship. A dog is the ultimate "mouth of truth" for our training skills, for our observation skills, for our understanding and compassion - for our ability to have an understanding with another which is honest and as in the moment as the dog herself.

After a few weeks with Verity being home, I felt we were making good progress and that I had a pretty accurate bead on her. She is not a particularly difficult dog, compared to many I've know. She communicates clearly, telegraphing her thoughts and feelings in meter high neon signs and inhibits her reactions well. She is a dog who requires a good deal of consistency and finds it distressing when it's not there. For her, the unpredictable is her personal boogeyman.

I see her here with me, face soft and happy, tail gently fanning the air, dancing near my feet with the wind rippling through her coat before sitting beside me and leaning into my touch. Her eyes are sparkling and looking into them I see refelected back a great sense of joy and mirth, a playful and almost puckish twinkle of laughter that flows honestly and easily from her, before she whirls off to rejoin the on-going game of tag. I see a dog who is exactly where she wants to be in life - near people she loves and who love her, radiating contentment and a deep sense of joy. This is how it should always be.

The thing is, watching her come out of her shell or any dog really... moments like this with all of my dogs, every time I do something which causes her to reflect back the view that life is fundamentally good - every time has a ripple effect and causes me to feel the moment with them. Coming to understand them always seems to be such a close thing to coming to understand yourself better really.

Of course, as I said, dog's live in the moment. And at the moment Verity has her nose in my ear to remind me it's DINNER TIME! ;-p

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