By rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, ‘Things My Dog Has Taught Me: About being a better human’of
My dogs have brought magic back into my everyday workaholic world and they’ve done it not once, but over and over again. They have also initiated me into new mysteries in life.
I would never go out so often close to midnight if Mitzpah, my dog, didn’t chide me by the door with his body language, as though saying: “What? Are you really going to go to bed without our late-night walk? Are you truly going to make me miss the midnight scents?” It’s no use pretending to a dog that tomorrow is another day. So yielding, with only minimal weary resentment, I take him to our local green space, where we hear owls calling from the great oaks, see bats flying in rapid zigzags across the edge of the pond and listen to the silent breathing of the trees.
At such moments, my heart fills with a love which connects me to all the living beings around me – the night birds, the hedgehogs and even the trees. The Jewish mystics speak of the sphere of loving kindness, one of the ten vital qualities of the eternal energy which flows through all creation. It fills both Mitzpah’s consciousness and mine, uniting us in the sacred bond of life. For a few precious seconds, awareness holds me still in silent wonder. I look up and see the few stars London’s light pollution leaves free for us to stare at on clear nights, while the half-moon briefly vanishes, occluded by the wind-driven flight of a band of tattered cloud. Released for these few moments from the burden of thoughts, which so frequently beset me and complicate my mind, I experience pure, happy, simple, unselfconscious being.
Then Mitzpah runs back and looks up at me impatiently, as if to say: “You, lazybones, can’t you be bothered to walk a little further?” and we resume our night-time pilgrimage.
This is an adapted excerpt from Four-Legged Therapy published by Aster