We have a dog visiting us today. He’s a big one, about a year old, and is a combination of coiled muscle and impulse decisions. It’s nice to have a dog in the house. It’s nice to be reminded of a dog’s ability to check out the environment and the people in the environment. Here’s what I noticed.

1) He immediately set about finding out what the boundaries were. Where he could go and not go. What doors he could push open and which remained closed. Who he could jump up on and who he couldn’t. It’s important for a dog to know these things. He was an expert and had it all sussed out within about 5 minutes.

2) He then had to determine where his stuff was, the things that gave him pleasure and comfort in equal measure. He found the ball. He found his stuffy toy. He found his bedroom. You could see him relax knowing that what was important to him was here.

3) Then he set about measuring up the people around him, especially the two new people. He cared little for any of the superficial things. He wanted to know who was the easiest touch for a treat. Who was a sucker for his eyes, when he made them look sad. Who was willing to put things down to pet him. Who took instruction well about where he wanted to be scratched. Who had a safe touch. What had a safe tone. Who would care for his needs – get him outside and let him back in. He had that done quickly too. Smart dog.

The dog entered our home with no prejudice. He simply wanted to know who we were and how safe the place was. He did that by our behaviour. What we looked like. Who could walk. Who was fat. Who was bald. Who had the most refined nose. None of these things matter.

He looked at what we did.

He looked at how we responded.

Then he determined if this was a safe place to be.

Funnily enough, as a disabled person, I realize, I need to do exactly the same thing.
Talk is talk. Words can be beautiful. Mission statements can be read with the national anthem playing.

Beauty is just beauty and it doesn’t mean anything else. People act like it does, but it doesn’t.

It’s what we do that mattered.

Now excuse me, he’s here and looking at me with big eyes … he knows I’m the treat guy. Can’t let him down.