Being Heard

March 16, 2009

My office is downstairs in our house; directly above me is the living room, at the edge of which is the location of the food and water dishes of our inimitable seven-pound poodle, Ben.

One night while focused on a manuscript at my desk, I heard the pat-pat-pat-pat-pat of Ben’s little feet upstairs as he trotted in from our bedroom (where he had been faithfully guarding Ana while she watched TV) through the kitchen and toward the location of the dishes. From the sound of it, he was popping in for a drink of water.

Cocking my ear, I heard that right-to-left pat-pat-pat-pat-pat-pat-pat, followed by a brief pause — too brief for drinking and with no telltale clink-clink-clink-clink-clink of his dogtags against the dish signifying his lapping at the dish — and then an immediate about-face left-to-right pat-pat-pat-pat-pat-pat-pat-pat receding again toward the hallway, where the stairs are located.

Then about 20 seconds of silence.

And then my door slowly swung open. His nose and then face poked through. He looked at me. I looked back, and I said:

“What’s up, Ben? No water? Your dish empty?”

I will never forget the look on his face.

His is an awfully expressive face, but I don’t think I’d ever seen him register such an unmistakable expression before, and perhaps not since, either. He did a visible double-take and gaped at me with a look of absolute exuberance, a look of stunned revelation, and then he notched his head forward an inch to peer at me with intensity, a gaze that unambiguously said:

Yes! Yes! That’s exactly what I meant! How the heck did you know?!

I got up, went upstairs, him trotting excitedly at my heels, and found the water dish empty. Ever since that day, Ben has been more attached to me than he ever was before.

What an amazing thing it is, whether for dog or for human: to be seen, heard and understood by another.

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  1. Journal of John David Mann » Blog Archive » The Other John David Mann - [...] but enough to know that we both share a fondness for our diminutive pooch-companions (note here and here), and…

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