“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,Job 12:7-10
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all humankind.”
I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but when he was a puppy, Max Retriever was trained as a service dog. I’m talking about serious, residential, go away to school and get your therapy-dog degree training. Obviously he has the natural “good dog,” friendly disposition, but this is something more.
Of course, by the time he was six years old and Maul-Hall became his new family home, Max had pretty much reverted to being just an awesome, good-natured, well-behaved dog. His higher learning credentials tend to come through as:
- preternatural calmness,
- the fact that he doesn’t jump up,
- his tendency to – gently – herd us,
- the way he communicates calm via proximity and presence,
- and the unusual blessing that he almost never barks (I have heard him bark three times – and for very specific reasons – in 18-months).
One in a while his true therapy dog self comes through with additional strength, like something deep inside him is calling it out. “Leave this to me, I’m a professional,” he seems to be saying; “I know what to do here.”
And it’s happening more frequently with my dad, who can sometimes lose touch with the world around him, become agitated, and see things that upset him. When Max is there he will often go over and lay down at dad’s feet. Or, as he did yesterday, sit right in front of him, unusually alert, projecting calm and reassurance.
My mum and I immediately noticed the change. Max got up, walked over, and sat bolt upright, looking intently into dad’s face as if reading him. As dad was reaching out for something no-one else could see, Max deliberately put his own face into dad’s hands, coaxing him into petting, projecting peace and calm, working to stop the agitation.
We need all the available tools at our disposal right now, and I am beyond grateful that Max is on the team.
Max knows exactly when I need him, too. I guess he’s an empath. Talk about “A dog for our time.”
Grateful – DEREK