As I’ve mentioned before, having a 60 minute commute on each end of my day gives me time to think a lot. Today I was pondering dogs and what it is about some of them that makes me fall so helplessly in love; the one bedrock, non-negotiable quality I have to have in a dog if I’m going to not just like the dog but be smitten. What I came up with, of course, is an answer maddeningly vague and imprecise: it’s a certain light in the dog’s eyes. The light is part brains, part capacity for joy, part ability to find fun, and part just sheer love.
Zille, for instance, hit me with the look the first time I threw the ball and she realized that the Dobermans did not want the ball, that she could have all the balls, forever, every time I threw it, it was our special game and no other dogs would jump her for the ball ever again. And there it was, this glow behind her eyes. She still gets it every time I come home from work and whenever a ball comes out. Tink gets it, every time I come in the room or touch her or speak to her. Beowulf gets it for Daniel, not for me, but Beo and I like each other but have never deeply adored each other in the way the girldogs and I do.
Zille’s mother Danca gets it when you have something she wants and she gets an opportunity to do a little work for you; I was smitten by Danca one day when I was holding a piece of chicken jerky in my hand and she offered me a picture-perfect “finish”, snapping into place at my side and sitting and looking up with me, eyes aglow and ears up and I fell for her right there.
It’s indefinable, but I think most dog people would recognize it when they saw it, and probably even know exactly what I’m talking about now. It’s that indefinable light, spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it, that just shines from a dog sometimes. Without that, I can like a dog fine but I won’t fall hard. But I’ve never met a dog who had it that I didn’t love at least a little bit, even if the dog would be totally unsuitable for my family and situation.