I Learned by Watching Ina

Three Ways to Make Good Energy


When someone complains they’re treated like a dog, I wonder if they’re thinking like I’m thinking. It’s a well-known simile that implies abuse, but I interpret it differently. After watching the way they interact, I want my partner to treat me like her dog.

I moved to Poland last year and began adapting to my new surroundings… settling into the routine at Ela’s house. Needless to say, it is a completely different life from the one I lived in Idaho. We walk a couple kilometres to town every morning to do our shopping for the day. We’re back by noon for coffee and pastries, then off to our individual projects until lunch. While working in the back office one day, I was surprisingly distracted by the rich aroma of home cooking. Ela prepares meals from ingredients we buy fresh daily and the smell of healthy food filled the house that afternoon. I followed it down the hall to the kitchen where a big pot of chicken and rice was simmering on the stove. Pietruszka (parsley root), seler (celery root), and marchew (carrot) melted together and bubbled into the air. I used the big soup spoon she left laying by the sink and let the flavours work their magic in my mouth. As I sampled a second spoonful, Ela came around the corner.

“Don’t eat that,” she laughed out loud. “It’s for Ina!”

I was eating the dog’s food.

But it wasn’t dog food, was it… it was people food that Ela was cooking for the dog. And it was high quality people food; it had been years since anyone cooked a meal like that for me. She spent an hour chopping vegetables and meat and preparing the delicious fare. She believes that feeding her pet healthy meals prepared in the home will benefit Ina in two ways; she will be happier and live longer. Perfectly practical Polish logic.

And it’s not just logic. It’s love. In fact, it’s mostly love. Ela knows every time she comes in the door, Ina will be waiting to greet her. If Ela leaves the house for a couple minutes or a couple hours, to town or to the garden, Ina tells Ela when she returns that she missed her and is sincerely happy to have her home. Playful barking or her trademark howl and that wagging tail; Ina makes sure that Ela knows she loves her. Not give-me-a-treat love, but the real thing. Dogs make us feel like we’re their whole world; they return to play in the yard or lay in their beds, but they give us all of their attention and enthusiasm in that moment together. That’s what everyone loves about dogs and I’m sure that’s what touches Ela’s heart in way that inspires her to reciprocate.

Ina

I sat the soup spoon down on the counter, looked at Ela and said, “I need to study Ina’s behavior. I want to be treated like that dog.”

It’s a joke, of course, but an interesting perspective on the way we treat one another. Ela and I talked about it; the love we share came late in life and we use what we’ve learned to build this new life together. Things everybody knows but forgets to practice. For example, we spent decades chasing our ambitions, and now we know how important it is to share our time and attention with each other. Each of us spent years alone which taught us to appreciate good companions. Not just romantic love, but fellowship and friendship. I like feeling loved; it energizes and shines. It gives me an optimism that overpowers most outside negativity. And I let that good energy spill out on the people around me, which is a great way to live life. Like a good dog, my vibe positively influences the energy of everybody in the room. People love dogs because dogs love people and therein lies the lesson.

If I want to be treated like a dog,
I’ve got to learn to love like one.

Interacting with animals is proven to decrease cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure, reduce loneliness and boost moods. That is why we have therapy dogs that travel to hospitals and give comfort to sick people. Mindfulness, compassion, awareness; their attention is focused on the person. I doubt I can match the pure devotion to Mankind for which Man’s Best Friends are famous, but I can probably wag my tail more often than I do.

It’s energy; just like everything in this world. I don’t speak Polish but have new friends in Poland; you don’t have to speak the same language to share good energy. Person-to-person, person-to-dog, person-to-any-animal; good energy magnetizes and bonds. During the years I worked in the Idaho backcountry, I had to learn about stock; specifically, how to pack cargo on horses and mules, and wrangle a string of them through the wilderness. I had to build a bond with these animals… trust relationships with every single one of them. We needed to be tuned in to one another on day-long trips through the mountains. I grew sensitive to their feelings and efforts to communicate. Dogs, cats, horses and mules, even chipmunks and other forest creatures; I spent years living and working in the Frank Church Wilderness and cultivated a shaman’s bond with animals. I talked to them all the time, but they responded mostly to my energy.

Communicating with Concho the Mule on Castle Creek

Dogs give people the good energy they need and people bond with their dogs. They take dogs on vacation, selecting a room that will be comfortable for their dogs. Dog toys are big business; people buy lots of them so their pets won’t get bored. Just plain goofy, the way we express our affection for animals… even referring to them as ‘kids’ and to themselves as ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’. And that’s cool; I know better than to take it literally. It’s affection, an expression of genuine love.

Ela takes Ina on three walks every day. She changes routes and destinations. They play games together. She praises the dog for good behavior and Ina loves to hear it. People love their pets freely because that’s the way the pet loves them.

I watched Ina and grew wiser. The dog taught me what I needed to know and I practice every day.

  1. Greet the people you love with enthusiasm every time you can. Make every occasion a great occasion.
  2. Play. Follow Ina’s good example; be playful with the people you love.
  3. Wag your tail. It’s only goofy the first time; after that, you’re irresistible.

Now Ela feeds me three times every day; not from a can, from the kitchen. She takes me for walks. Even when I’m scruffy and maybe a little worn, she tells me that I’m handsome and a good boy. She takes my rough old face in her hands and kisses it, and sometimes I get snacks. It’s a dog’s life and I love it. I learned by watching Ina.

Winter Fun with Ina on the Baltic Coast

3 comments

  1. Wonderful observation, it could be a much kinder world if all humans learned this same lesson. I guess even the animal world has it’s Honey Badgers though, Lol. By the way… If all I have to do is wag my tail and howl a little to get fed like that, well, sign me up!

  2. Great little article. It’s amazing how pets change a persons outlook on life itself. All any pet wants is your love and attention and in return you are giving back the very same thing- in your life all around you.

  3. People can learn fidelity, trust and love from animals. Animals love unconditionally. The dog is the only creature on earth who loves humans more than he loves himself. They don’t ask questions, don’t criticize. Dogs have given us absolutely everything. We are the center of their universe. Ina is a smart dog who experienced a lot of suffering in his life, but despite this trauma, she trusted a man again. Animals use their own language, which, if we know it well, is legible to us, and I must admit I also have my personal trainer who calls me for walks every day, regardless of the weather.Like every good trainer, my trainer takes care of my condition and I take care of his condition..

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