By the time you’re old enough to read these letters, you’ll have lived with me long enough to know human and animal behavior fascinate me, and I’m constantly studying behaviors in both my personal and professional lives.
There’s this common meme quote stating: “I never trust a person if they don’t like dogs, but I always trust a dog if they don’t like a person.”
Although I don’t believe in the first part of the quote because people have many legitimate reasons to not like dogs, but the latter part really resonates with me. I’m always struck by how well dogs read people in comparison to how well we, as humans, read people. Maybe it’s because dogs see things in black and white, and our brains are more complex that we focus on the gray areas– that and we tend to only see the superficial part of people, the parts of themselves they pick and choose to share with the world, whereas I think dogs see much deeper a whole lot quicker.
You and I take the dogs for a long daily walk and because we currently live in Chelsea, a city in transition, we come across all walks of life: from the construction workers laboring on the new projects across the street, Hispanic women playing with their children at the playground, young kids skating or playing basketball when we go after school hours, the elderly or disabled walking to the Walgreens from the nursing home, the homeless and downtrodden, or the young professionals living in one of the multiple new loft surrounding buildings shuffling to and from the MBTA looking dapper in their dry cleaned suits and briefcases.
Kaiah, is a very anxious dog, always observing and very cognizant of her surroundings. I literally call her my ‘little intuition’ because she can get a quick read off people and situation immediately, while it takes me a lot longer to assess a situation or person. After five and a half years, I wholeheartedly trust my ‘little intuition’ when it comes to this innate ability. It constantly amazes me how she can immediately cozy up to one person and then bark, fur straight up, and shyly back away from other people—to find out later in time that her immediate reaction to these people was a lot more accurate than my own superficial assessment. Sometimes I think my own intuition is broken, or maybe I’m just a little naive and truly want to see the best in people. Although, afterall I only see the parts of people they chose to present to the world– leaving any more accurate assessments needing time and multiple observations. Most of the time it is just the energy people bring, which we’ve learned to adjust or discuss in the moment, but many times, it is not just physical energy people bring. Also, noted is how she reacts to my own reaction to people or situations, something we’ve learned and had to adjust in our own behavior very early to prevent her from negatively reacting to any person and/or situation.
Between you in a baby carrier exploring the world with your bright blue eyes from the comfort of my chest or Logie, our excitable, tail-wagging, 3-legged Pitbull, people are always initiating conversation as we walk along. We literally have interactions with 50% of the people we pass, which in Chelsea, is a lot of daily interaction for the dogs. I find it interesting because your dad and I are two of the ‘young professionals’ in the area, so you’d think other young professionals would be the ones engaging the conversations the most since we’re the most similar to this cohort, but it isn’t. The most kindness, warmth, and real conversations we engage in are initiated by the elderly, disabled, construction workers, homeless and downtrodden, kids and adolescents. They mostly comment on Logie’s missing leg, which starts varying conversations about animals, cats or dogs they have at home, sweet Pitbulls they’ve known and the bad rep they get, the changing climate of Chelsea, how I manage to carry a baby and handle two big dogs (trust me, it’s taken a lot of practice). These brief conversations are always polite and complete with smiles and warmth.
Kaiah is always initially on high alert, after all, she does think she’s our protector without your dad around; however, once she completes her 3-second evaluation, she allows these people to pet her, often sitting by their feet as we talk for a minute or two. No anxiety, no alarm, no barking, or fur-up, just contentment. Logie, I can’t even comment on because he excitedly wags and sits for ANYONE willing to pet him. He is truly the epitome of an optimist, “everything, everyone is greatttt” that we literally question if he is actually possesses any innate dog qualities, but I digress. After the conversations conclude, we are back on our merry little walk.
After these conversations and walks, I am both appeased and saddened by human nature. The downtrodden, elderly, disabled, kids, the society’s forgotten have shown us the greatest kindness and humanity than the ‘young professionals like me’ people we’ve come across, who often appear annoyed that two dogs are sniffing things and taking up so much of the sidewalk while they rush to get home after a long day– or just give looks of confusion at this sight of a white, middle class woman having a baby around two bully breed dogs (I mean really, HOW irresponsible?). Sarcasm aside, I understand this group the most. They’re busy, their schedules don’t allow them time to get to know people, the community 5 minutes from the city they’re temporarily living in before their careers gain traction, they marry, have kids of their own and they settle into the Boston burbs, why care, right? Not saying anything bad about this group for I am one of them, just pointing out an observation we experience on the daily. Afterwards, I tend to think about all the times I’ve been too busy in life to even notice things, people, or situations occurring right next to me. Kaiah backs away from these people never letting them out of her sight until they’re literally out-of-sight, phew, all these potential crises averted.
I’m so thankful that you, along with Kaiah and Logie have allowed me to get to know people in this area, and gain a better (albeit very subjective) understanding of this community. It makes me truly thankful I was raised in a family with a strong moral compass, allowing me to see every human as human, every animal as a soul, and truly appreciate the opportunities life has provided me, as well as the humanity to understand that I am no better/worse a human being than anyone else—and every human/animal deserves love and a second of your time. I see the dichotomy everyday, and I don’t know if I’m happy to now acknowledge it or whether I’d be more blissful staying ignorant to it.
We are so proud and happy to be raising you alongside our two beloved dogs. I think they will teach you so many valuable lessons, starting with the most basic and necessary: love, responsibility, humanity, compassion, and empathy. I also hope growing up with dogs allows you to see life through their eyes, and see past the superficiality of people, to see people and assess situations by their type of intuition, which is all too often more accurate than our own. They see goodness in raw form, I don’t know how, but they do.
It’s not lost on anyone that I’m passionate about dogs, sometimes I think it’s because they show more humanity than many humans. Kaiah and Logie are very different in nature and temperament, but we are all so lucky to have them in our lives. Kaiah will no doubt be your backyard play buddy, and Logie will be ready to snuggle with you when you need a nap. Only time will tell. We look forward to all adventures and experiences that lie ahead.
Until next letter sweet girl.
[I should have prefaced this letter with the fact that we’ve had a string of very bad luck, complete with a house fire because of faulty electrical work leaving us ‘homeless’ for two months when I was 6 months pregnant, dealing with our corrupt condo developers and their disbarred attorney selling us two parking spots they’d already sold to other people, a potential law suit, a dishonest condo association board that cost us a cash, asking price offer on our condo, followed by multiple sales, so my current confidence in people is at an all time low