We’re finally moving again after a few minutes of stopping to let Yogi smell yet another fern before lifting his head to determine exactly where Nora is. He doesn’t move until he has this information, and if she is behind us, he simply sits and waits. She will race past us at breakneck speed and I feel Yogi want to catch up to her, but something in him knows he can’t. After the impulse fades, he settles back into his tether to me, as if it is enough just to know now where she is in a way he can see and protect her.
With Nora her usual thousand paces ahead and Yogi trotting calmly at my side on leash within the stretch of woods surrounding us, it is so easy to see the mirror and the muse presenting themselves.
I didn’t see Nora’s particular brand of sensitivity right away as a puppy. Her youthful enthusiasm masked her reluctant assent to be touched and cuddled. She was beautiful and a bit aloof. As she grew it became clear she needed a certain kind of space around her, that invisible boundary of ‘don’t touch me unless I ask’. And then it became clear she didn’t really know how to ask with grace. She instead learned to use her rather effective voice to express the range of her response to the world. Loud insistent barking when in protective mode, or melodic and rhythmic when letting me know it is time for a walk. Assertive growling when initiating play, and sweet satisfied moans when she in a calm pleasurable place. Now, when she anxiously jumps at the entry of any kind of new energy in her field, her need to be seen and touched masks her innate sweetness. It’s taken me awhile to understand the extent of her ability to sense what is coming. All I have to do is look at her a certain way and she knows it is my intention to pull that tick off, or try to cut her nails. Anything that involves physical sensation that is beyond her control sends her flying out of the room and hiding for hours. I didn’t see her for days when training her to the invisible fence. All it took was one shock and she cowered out of sight inside the house until she was ready to explore with the freedom this new boundary gave her. She will never cross that line, ever. My heart swells for this beautiful creature who loves me as much as I love her. She is very photogenic, but she doesn’t think so, and it is a rare photo of her looking into the lens. Capturing her gaze looking out and away is more typical and evokes the feeling of something untouchable.
Accepting her extreme sensitivity has helped me accept my own. Her undeniable need to run fast and free resonates deeply for me. She is my mirror, showing me places in myself I have long thought undesirable and ugly. But they are as much a part of me as the rest that is considered acceptable and beautiful. I can now choose to accept all of me and consider where changing certain behavior is possible. I can’t change what I can’t see.
Enter my muse Yogi. He is such a solid clear presence. He isn’t afraid to be touched or to look straight into the camera and show me his depth.
Where he and Nora will typically pick separate spaces to settle in for their daytime rest, I often find them close and in some sweet communion.
It is inspiring to watch how Yogi simply meets Nora where she needs to be met, in rest and in play. He is big enough now to completely dominate her if he wanted, but he simply just stays where he is when she comes charging. He gives her back the full force of what she is delivering with his developing giant gentleness and complete lack of fear. Yogi clearly cherishes his sister, and it inspires me to tap into the places in me that need cherishing, and stay there.
There is a sweet balance between the mirror and the muse. Fortunate me.