Shaking Paws With the Infinite

How we can look to our animal friends for spiritual guidance.

Excerpted with permission from "Mystical Dogs: Animals as Guides to Our Inner Life" by arrangement with Inner Ocean Publishing.

To some, this equating of the mystical experiences and dogs may seem foolish, even sacrilegious. "Mystical Dogs??!" a friend of mine exclaimed in some heat when I told her the title of the book I was planning to write. "That's nonsense. How can you possibly put mysticism and dogs together? It's like putting rabbits and football in the same group, or elephants and space stations, or."

She began to search for ever more impossible duos when I interrupted, "Have you ever had a dog?"

"No," she admitted. "My parents wouldn't let me. Once I brought home a puppy from a friend whose dog had 15 babies, but they made me give him back. And then I grew up living in the city and all."

"Geraldine! What do you think your life would have been like had you been allowed to keep that puppy?" I challenged. "Just do me a favor and imagine being seven or eight and having this dog for your companion."

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Geraldine, who is noted for her imaginative gifts, thought for a moment and then said, "Well, I do have some idea, come to think of it. I used to visit an aunt and uncle on their farm. They had three kids and several dogs, and we'd go running together. But if I had had my own dog, well. I think I would have had entry into another world. I would have had a different kind of playmate, one with whom I wouldn't have had to be so careful about what I said or did. I would not have been so locked up in myself. I would have played with my dog in his world -- learned to bark, rolled around in the grass with him, had secret places that only he and I would have known. I would have touched him a lot, and he would have brushed up on me, wanting to be patted or scratched.

"We would have had all kinds of adventures," she continued." He would have taken me into a dog world. We would have gone wild together. We would have run and run until we were exhausted and then lain panting in the sun, having experienced the elements. The power of our physical bodies would have felt so alive, so full of possibility, and yet one with everything. And then we'd have figured out some more games to play.

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Jean Houston
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