Recently, I think my dog has been trying to tell me something. Around the time during lockdown when the weather suddenly got nice, she started doing this thing on walks which is both adorable and annoying at the same time. We’re walking along, she on the lead, me already thinking about the jobs I need to do after the walk, and then she slowly comes to a stop and looks at me, slyly. It’s like she can tell my heart’s not really in the walk. She takes one step with one foot, but then rather than continuing to propel her body forward in the direction of the walk, she lets her bottom half swing round and down until it lands on the grass with a thud. She then either simply flops over onto her side, letting her head loll on the ground, or she proceeds to roll about in a state of complete abandonment, legs in the air, tongue out to one side – all the while still looking at me as if to say ‘there! what are you gonna do about it?’
At first I interpreted this as a challenge. She’s a rescue dog, and I’m used to the fact by now that she adjusts to her new life with me in phases, displaying new behaviours or anxieties about every three months. My immediate thought was both ‘oh how cute!’ and also ‘oh no, how am I going to get her out of this one?’ I assumed she was rebelling against me, against being on the lead, against the decision to go back home again — yes, we’re all getting bored of being stuck at home. But today I had a different idea when I saw that now familiar look in her eye.
Today it occurred to me that perhaps this dog is the live-in spiritual teacher and life coach I have wanted all my life. She is not procrastinating. She is not making a political stand. She is simply doing what she wants, which is, at that precise moment, to lie down, and maybe have a bit of a roll. And that is inspirational.
My mantra for the past few weeks has been ‘I am not working from home, I am at home during a pandemic, trying to work.’ But from now on I am going to simply ‘be more dog’ and if I want to lie down and maybe roll around a bit, then that is what I’m going to do. Usually I love Audre Lorde’s phrase that self-care is not self-indulgence, it is ‘an act of political warfare.’ I completely understand what that meant for Lorde, a black lesbian, ill for the second time with cancer. But for me right now? I’m too tired for political warfare of any kind, even if it does involve lying down. I am going to work on just trying to be an animal first, a person in the world first. I thank my dog for reminding me that that, for the time being, is also ok.