I have a best friend. She’s around seven years old, in dog years, that is. In human years, she’s in her forties. Flake is a mixed breed, a hybrid, just like me. She’s also a very shy, awkward dog –a bit like me. And Flake is one hell of a tough dog. At home, we call her “Tough cookie.” Also, a lot like me.
I have never actually been able to write about Flake. It’s very intense for me, there is a lot of love there; and a deep bond, a friendship that has grown over the years we have known each other (and of course, we have had our ups and downs). Today, however, something happened. That’s when I realized I need to at least try write about the connection we have. I was walking Flake, and our other dog, Eddie. Eddie is quite a character, and one day I’ll get to writing about him, too. Eddie is nothing like Flake; he is popular, social, extremely good-looking, impatient, a bit selfish and self-absorbed, and well, a bit of a douche. But I love him anyway.
As I was walking them, something happened to Flake’s paw. From where I was standing, I could see that she was in pain. Eddie and I were walking ahead of her (because she has arthritis and struggles to keep up), and I turned around and noticed that she was no longer walking, that her hind leg was stuck in an awkward position, pointing upwards, and she was unable to put it back in place. She looked at me with her big chocolate droplets of eyes and pleaded for help. Eddie, always a handful, thought she was playing, and immediately got into his playful mode. He crouched into his playful wolfish position, a predator ready to attack, and I knew I had to take him back inside before helping Flake.
I looked at Flake, and shouted “Wait right there! Don’t move! Wait.”
She stared back at me, leg stuck mid-air, and froze. I ran back to the house, made sure Eddie was safely inside, and went sprinting back to my best friend.
By the time I reached her, she was in a lot of pain. Granted, it only took me a few minutes to get back to her, but you try having a sharp hammer nail stuck in your hand. I held her leg, carefully examining her paw for the source of the pain. She glanced over her shoulder once, and let out a soft whimper. It must have hurt like hell when I pulled out that hammer nail which was stuck in her paw. But Flake trusted me completely. She could have easily flinched, easily barked at me, easily misunderstood –yet it was a moment of complete trust and surrender.
Of course she showered me with wet kisses after, thanking me. But you see, I had done nothing. It was her who trusted me enough. I realized right then and there that the bond I have with Flake, is a bond like no other. It’s that, that moment, that moment where you know you both trust each other, and that there is mutual, acknowledged faith in the other.
Flake has saved me so many times over the years – I can’t begin to relate every single time this has happened. She’s been there through everything. Long nights of research. She would sigh and pout, look at me like I am the most boring company ever, and just go to sleep, hoping I would join her at some point. At one point, I had breathing/heart problems, and I noticed she had adjusted her sleeping position so that she would sleep closer to my chest. There are nights when I am in pain, and she wakes up seconds before I do, sticks her wet nose in my face, checking that I am still ‘okay.’
I do the same with her. She’s growing older, which means, more sleepless nights for us, and less fun. It means medications at difficult times. It means remaining strong, persevering. We both have to. Me and my MS, and Flake and her arthritis. There are two rules, both of which Flake has taught me. First, above all, do not give way to pain. Second, you must be there for your person, because your person has put their trust in you. It is a form of blind faith, blind trust, that humans have yet to learn. I have learned that people always disappoint, and almost always take advantage of anything remotely related to “blind” faith and/or trust. Rather than take that as a blessing, as a commitment, as something to appreciate and even more importantly, reciprocate, they let you down. It’s taken as a form of weakness to trust. To believe in the other. Dogs don’t do that. Dogs know it is a form of strength to believe in the other. It is a Law of Love that only dogs have mastered. And I continue to learn from them, and especially from Flake (who I will be writing more about).