Yoga Dog – The Yoga of Living with a Big, Naughty Dog
I love our dog Shay, who arrived at our front door a little over a year ago with a look on his face that clearly communicated, “You are my people.” At the same time, this dog drives me crazy. The crash that wakes me up turns out to be the compost bucket, its contents once against strewn across two rooms. Although Shay doesn’t eat banana peels, he eats just about everything else, like my husband’s pajama bottoms, which I grabbed away from him just in time, remembering how he once ate a pair of my husband’s pants.
If it’s not a crash or pair of pants, it’s the constant pacing. Shay is a combination chocolate lab, Weimaraner, and possible German shorthair, and he’s got more energy than a dozen toddlers resisting nap time. Despite walks and letting him ran like a maniac around the fields where he lives, he needs a lot of motion. Or he needs a lot of rawhide.
Mostly, though, he needs my presence. Everywhere I go in the house, he’s with me, his head just at the height to be under my right hand as I walk down a hall to the kitchen or back to my office. Since I work at home, he’s especially under hand all the time. When I work, he works, lying down beside me, and with his enormous paws, holding onto a bone and undoing its existence as I type and make phone calls. When I sleep, he—along with the other dog (a quiet and old labmation) and cat—sleeps nearby. When I leave, he rushes the door, devastated (or at least pretending to be) that he’s not going also. When I return, there’s great jubilation in all the land.
If yoga is, at its core, about yoking, or, to quote some dictionaries, “to add, to join, to unite, to attach,” my dog is at the core of my yoga. He reminds me—each step, each crash from another room, and each pacing in a figure 8 from my chair to the door when he wants to go out—how none of us are singular entities. He challenges me to engage with impermanence regularly, particularly the impermanence of clean floors and tidy kitchens. He stares into my eyes as if to tell me that we’re not alive to finish a blog post or answer six emails at once, but rather, to go outside and romp under the big blue sky.
Most of all, his life entwined with mine calls upon me to be a better human being with the emphasis on “being.”