Culture. Eat it
22 February 2019
The diary of a love story: Hachiko & me. What does it means to be a dog mum?
Hello, my name is Kristel and I am a mother of a 6-year-old dog called Hachiko.
Those who believe in reincarnation imagine the relationships between souls as a majestic tree bushy of leaves. You are one of these leaves, attached to a small twig attached in turn to a larger branch. And so on, up to the trunk.
The other leaves – a few – that are on your own twig are intimately close to you. With them you share your deepest affections. A great affinity and proximity also unites you to the leaves of the nearest branch, with which you share the belonging to a slightly larger branch. You are still there, but not as much as the leaves of your own twig are. And, as all the other branches of the tree are considered, you are undoubtedly bound to all these other leaves or souls, you are all daughters of the same tree, but not so viscerally bound as with those of your own little branch.
Your tree is in a magnificent forest, full of many other trees like yours. Each tree is connected to the others through the root system that sinks into the ground. In this way, even the leaves that may seem very distant from each other, and without anything to share, are in reality however interconnected.
The truth is that you are connected to all the leaves.
Probably you have already met in previous lives the other souls that are anchored to the branches more distant from yours. It is possible that you have already had relationships with them, albeit brief. Even a half-hour meeting would not have happened by chance in this light, probably taught you something. Or you taught something.
Since we are born to when we die we connect to part of that thick wonderful foliage.
Part of those souls, leaves of the same tree, which in a previous life were lost too soon, have now the opportunity to meet again.
One of these souls, attached to my little twig definitely lives in my dog, Hachiko.
When our eyes met, our souls immediately recognized each other.
Six years ago I was still living with my parents one weekend yes and one no, in Milan the rest of the time.
My father – poor man – could do nothing to make me desist from welcoming a second dog into our house. He too was in love with him. Even Shelly, our old poodle and used to being the queen of the house, albeit without too many ceremonies and as a matron – “ok-we’re-in-two-but-stay-in-yours” – soon dealt with it. And every now and then she also played with Hachiko.
In short, Hachiko was the smallest of the litter, and did not even seem that his brothers were relatives. He stood in a submissive and melancholy corner. And, I know, he was waiting for me. Love at first sight.
My dog has taught me love, the purest one, and suffering, no less in terms of intensity.
Because with a dog you play, he keep you company, raise your spirits on gray days, but also – and above all – a dog requires a good deal of responsibility and sacrifice. Because it’s not your dog just when he chases the ball in the garden.
It is your dog even when he is diagnosed with chronic gastritis of psychosomatic origin because it is “too sensitive” and, banned the industrial feeds, you’ll cook for him daily his chicken with rice, zucchini and olive oil – and you will give it to him four times per day. It is your dog when you get up at night because he cries for a stomach ache and needs your pampering. It’s your dog when you see that he’s sick and you think it’s a bad stomach ache attack, you take him to the vet and he tells you that “it’s nothing”; a few days later he loses the use of his hind legs, he has a badly diagnosed hernia.
It’s your dog when you will sell your family jewels to pay for the operation on his back, to make him better. It is your dog when the neurologist tells you that there is only the remote possibility that, at best, he could walk only for a few meters and, now, he runs and jumps as if that hernia belonged to another body, certainly not to his. The power of a medicine called Love.
It is your dog when you thank him for teaching you what that is the stuff called sense of responsibility towards something else that is different (and depends on) from you, he have taught you what respect really is.
It’s your dog but it’s not just a dog. It is a refuge for joy.
I consider myself very lucky. To this day my life has been peaceful, happy and serene, without any hitches and suffering.
I am fortunate to have three grandparents out next to me, and the grandfather who is not here with me is gone when the carelessness of the young age was a balm for death.
I have never met Suffering in person. Still, the period when Hachiko was sick, my happiness had sunk me into a dark abyss from which I could not see escape, a bad feeling that I had never felt before. This little fluffy creature has shown me how far I can push my emotional spectrum, for better or for worse.
“And think when she will have a baby” you may be thinking. I also tell this to myself – and it scares me in some ways. But Hachiko is a great school, a kindergarten, but still a school.
Hachiko has many holiday homes. Many friends. Each one with its own bed. That of my aunt, that of Grandma Ester, that of my mother-in-law – yes, I will be a dog’s mother but they are certainly grandmothers of a dog – that of my parents. Everyone loves him madly. They love me a little less when on vacation I call twice a day asking them about Hachiko instead of them.
Dogs only lacks words.
Periodically, the Roommate of the Heart repeats the fateful phrase “He only lacks words”. I read a study that also dispels this apparently objective fact. Apparently dogs understand 600 words besides making a huge effort to understand what we want. A Google robot will soon be able to understand one million words. But 600 words in the eyes of a dog can perform unspeakable spells, which go far beyond the wonders of technology.
Monkeys and wolves
In the early days of society there were monkeys and wolves. Then evolution gave birth to men and dogs.
The dogs have started to follow us to enjoy the leftovers of the hunt; then we started to follow them to take advantage of the faculties of their portentous nose, capable of leading us to succulent prey. Or maybe the opposite, who knows. The fact is that symbiosis has been going on for some years now. And, to date, their wonderful snout continues to feed our hunger for likes on Instagram. Dogs, sunsets and children says the marketer. But it is precisely the mystery of this mutual adaptation to enchant this story by magic.
Dogs are neotenic
The fact of neoteny tries to give rational body to a symbiotic relationship that is intelligible only if filtered by the heart. Apparently, it was their eyes that triggered our protective instincts. The dogs’ gaze has continued to hypnotize us throughout the centuries.
Science says this: dogs are “neotenics”. Which means that dogs maintain the characteristics of newborns even in adulthood. One of all: their eyes. If you think about it, they remain disproportionately large compared to the face, even in adulthood.
We would have selected our best friend in nature so that we could enjoy a sweet gaze forever. They say that the dog was, since the early history, a primitive peluche to look after and feed, a simulacrum of the child.
For heaven sake, be sure that it really went this way is like wondering if when a tree falls in the forest (to stay on the subject) and no one hears it makes noise. We’ll never know, but we trust.
Angels with paws
Just to say that what I know about love I owe it to that window on the heart that a little angel with paws and tail has managed to open wide.
If you give love to a dog, he will always give you back twice as much. Because love is not laconic.
It is immense. Infinite. Universal.
He speaks all languages and understands all the eyes, vibrates on the skin and unravels in the heart.
Love is not just a word thrown there, a cliché to be honored on a canvas, on the screen or on the pages. Maybe it’s not just the result of attraction or romance. Maybe Love is a friend, a companion for life, someone who understands you, someone who is always there for you, even when you are worse off than you. Perhaps Love is Hachiko.
Photos: Sara Cartelli
Once upon a time there was a 30 years old girl, and she has not the slightest idea what it would be at 32: one, no one but for sure no one hundred thousand. Daughter, sister, friend, mom of a dog, woman of an amazing man. Thinker fulltime, practices the Universal Love. Always looking for which direction take to and who to be doing it. Thank God everything flows. Panta Rei. And in the end, as in a beautiful garden Bahai, she will be delighted by lighting… and she lived happily ever after.