Baker looks fearsome; he is not the dog you want to see materialize in the night as you walk to a stranger’s front door. He watches, and he’s big, about 75 pounds big, and he has the face of a journeyman boxer, pinkish where you might expect scar tissue, but he is only eight months old, and last Thursday morning he climbed into my lap where we perched together on a grassy hill. For 20 minutes we sat together in a kind of sunny doze. I scratched his head and stroked the soft skin under his jaw and along his throat. He stretched and settled and every minute of so lifted his head to look at me. We touched, my forehead and cheek along the side of his face, his jaws touching my throat.
I took Cheyenne out next, another young dog, a black lab-husky mix, and she leaned against me and seemed intent on moving into my skin – sometimes she would place all her weight against the right side of my chest and swing her head over my shoulder so that she sat looking east while I looked west, and we became a funny kind of conjoined twins, perfectly aware of the breathing of the other. Neither Baker nor Cheyenne were restless. Neither barked. All three of us in turn yielded to the mild, mild day.
In the course of full schedules of hustles and appetites, sometimes we forget how the stillness of a dog resting on us or touching our sides can make a difficult morning or exhausted evening bearable, and often much more; it becomes a kind of transfusion that renews our staying power, theirs too I suspect. Our mutual need for affection and touch creates moments where we come into the presence of the deep calm that allows both of us to go on cheerfully with our doggy lives.