Our friend and agent Annie Brody never had a dog as a child, but always loved them. New York City was not the perfect place to begin life as a dog person, but at age forty-five, Annie felt it was time. She adopted the dream dog of her childhood, a golden retriever, who had been found in a parking lot in the Bronx without any identification. She named him Hero. He would come to change her life in ways both unexpected and unanticipated.
Annie cherished Hero’s companionship, and could hardly wait to get home after work so she could go outside with her new buddy. Morning and evening walks and forays to the fenced-in dog park were not enough. She began to take Hero out of the city on weekends to places where he could hike off-leash in the woods. Soon the weekends weren’t enough either. The turning point came one night in the city after a glorious weekend in the country.
It was raining and they were in a taxi driving down Park Avenue. Annie noticed that Hero’s perpetual grin was gone, and that he seemed to have become depressed. She wondered what the problem was, so she crouched down and put her head right next to Hero’s to see from his vantage point. All she saw were sharp angles and glass and metal squares of gray and black. They had just been in the countryside with lush fields and rolling hills and trees – lots of round edges and wonderful smells of nature. No wonder he was depressed.
Next: Annie’s Move
Annie then realized that subconsciously she was having the same depressed reaction to the city as Hero. Through many years of living surrounded by concrete and metal, she had learned to flip a switch and accept the unnaturalness of Manhattan as the price for her lifestyle. But once she allowed herself to see this metropolitan world through Hero’s eyes – to imagine the smells he was experiencing and to hear the sounds of the city through his ears – it was dramatically different. She desired to build a partnership that was best for both of them, rather than merely assert ownership. Annie realized that the conscious choice was to think beyond how the dog should adapt to her life. How could she create a lifestyle that would be harmonious for human and animal?
Looking and listening from Hero’s vantage point, Annie woke up to what she needed to do. She suddenly knew she needed to find a more natural way of living. She quit her job, sold her apartment, and moved to six wooded acres upstate. Flash forward a few years. Instead of life in the fast lane, Annie now lives at the end of a country dirt road surrounded by animals. She runs weekend dog camps for city people and their canines, and is the marketing director for a company that distributes a line of holistic, all natural dog treats. She likes to say that her life has literally “gone to the dogs,” and she’s proud of it.
The story of Annie and her dog Hero is a perfect example of the spiritual nature of animals. Could it be that Annie was really meant to live in the country, and that one of her life’s tasks was to create Camp Unleashed? The point in her life when she knew it was time to get a dog was the time many of us wake up and realize there has to be more to life than we are experiencing. Annie’s answer was always there, but like most of us, she couldn’t see it. She could only discover it through the love of an animal.
The truth of animals is that they are directly connected to our instinctive wisdom. They come into our lives just when we need them, and they exit once their spiritual job has been realized. We only have to learn how to receive their guidance. They teach us by putting knowledge right where it counts – in our hearts. Annie was brave enough to follow her heart, and doing so changed her life.
Its not that city life is bad for every dog or human, it just wasn’t good for Annie anymore. And for every Hero leading his guardian to the country, there is a Heroine leading her two-legged companion to Broadway.
Adapted from Through A Dog’s Ear: Using Sound to Improve the Health & Behavior of Your Canine Companion by Joshua Leeds & Susan Wagner DVM, MS. Sounds True Publishing 2008
Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.