Summer, our year-and-a-half-old golden retriever, is always nearby, it seems. Right now she is in repose, stretched out, her nose on one paw, the snout about 4 inches away from my left foot. I can hear her steady breathing, but she is not asleep. If I were to get up and move to a chair in the next room, she very likely will come in there and settle near me again. At the end of the day, I will climb into bed and she will hop up and curl next to my feet.
Dejah, our 9-year-old puppy, will greet me with Summer when I get home after being away, but then Dejah will go about her business. She does not seek out my companionship the way Summer does.
She is barely out of puppyhood and engages in some exasperating behavior. She digs holes in the back yard. When cavorting with Dejah in the house, she will nose under an area rug to “hide.” I am constantly folding the rugs back into their proper position.
Now Summer has rolled completely onto her side and has fallen asleep, her front paws folded one over the other. I haven’t left this chair for a half-hour, so I guess she trusts that her companion will still be here if she risks a snooze. I wouldn’t mind spending a day like this.
How did we build this interspecies love and trust? Her ancestors’ ancestors would be out in the cold on a day like today, unsure where or what their next meal would be. How did they know to trust humans, and how did humans intuit that they could be trusted?
I don’t know the answers to the questions, but I’m grateful for those ancestors’ ancestors, because the sweet calm of a dog trusting me to watch her sleep fills me up.