I noticed that my two children, at the time ages 9 and 6, had begun to walk down the long windy driveway towards the road. It was only a quarter of a mile for them to walk and make it home. The is not very far by most measurements, but as a father watching my two young children slowly move farther and farther away from my protective gaze and my “I will destroy and end you if you even think about hurting me or mine” state of mind, I began to worry on the inside. My heart rate quickened, I licked my lips and I began to pace from window to window to be able to see them as they went from in to out of my view. I began to second guess my decision to let them walk home, alone, from my parent’s house just up the dead end street. Then, suddenly, I knew I had nothing to worry about. There was no fear of the big bad wolf. There was only calm and the tears began to stream down my cheeks. I had just bore witness to complete loyalty and the trust that it brings…and with that…complete security and peace.
There are few things in the world that are as perfect as a dog’s loyalty. I believe it is an ancient bargain that we made that probably went sometime like this:
-Hey there, Mr. Wolf hanging out by my trash heap, are you eating my leftovers?!
-What if I feed you, give you shelter, clean and care for you and give you a warm safe place to sleep?
-What if you helped me hunt, guard and protect my property? What if you worked for me?
-I will also love and protect you, but you have to wear this collar.
– Done and done, now how about a cookie?
Maybe not exactly like that, but probably close and it took a few thousand years to unfold. Still, there was a love and loyalty born and bred into the dogs we know now. It is pure. It is instinctual. It is magical to watch it firsthand. I took it for granted as a young boy when my dog Nikki followed me everywhere, and I mean everywhere. When I rode my bike to a friend’s house, he followed and then sat for 5 minutes to 3 hours next to my bike waiting for me. He laid by the tub when I bathed. He slept outside my door. We played hide and seek (my very first memory of fun). We trusted each other to always be there and we were. We gave each other security and peace. Sadly, I didn’t know enough to appreciate it then.
The calm flooded my body in the warmth that only true peace can bring. As my two children walked away my yellow Lab, Contessa Freelove aka Tessa, walked with them at first. Then she ran in front of them and barked, they walked on. She then ran back to the house and barked and waited briefly. Then she ran back to them and tried her best to herd them, to stop them or turn them. They walked, ignoring her pleas, on. She, again, ran to the house and begged for a responsible adult to come out, something was WRONG! The two ambled on confident in their destination. Once more she charged down the drive. Back and forth she went trying to sound the alarm or to try to stop them and then “IT” happened. Tessa remembered the ancient deal and she had to make a choice. She turned to the house one final time, took and deep breath, dropped her shoulders and took her place in front of my children and she lead them safely home. My children didn’t notice or care. They never thought about it, sort of like how I never did, but I saw the whole thing. I witnessed the complete and total loyalty to the family unit. I trusted in her loyalty and her love and it made me weep with the power of knowing we had made a good deal a long, long time ago.