Friday, November 4, 2011

Expectation and Pursuit

Sirius was antsy last night and wouldn't settle. He kept pushing his big nose into the tiny little space under a heavy piece of furniture. After a brief argument and some determined work by a human friend with thumbs, creativity, and a long ruler, we found the pea-sized snack he had been trying to tell us about. Sirius loves food. He really, really loves food.

Young Sirius
As it turns out, this isn't all bad. Sirius was a bit nutty as a pup, and the Big Monster of his life was the vacuum. Whenever I turned it on, the dog would go ballistic -- barking, growling, snapping. Vacuuming was becoming hazardous. He wasn't getting better about it, either; he was actually getting worse. Finally, I decided to train him that the vacuum cleaner is his friend -- walked him near the machine and gave a snack, worked our way up to touching the machine and gave a snack, eventually was even able to turn it on and give a snack. The dog was still nuts, but his hatred of the vacuum was gradually being replaced by ambivalence. There was hope.

Fast-forward awhile, and we reached the logical conclusion with the Big Monster. For the past thirteen years, our vacuum cleaner has magically caused tiny snacks to appear randomly on the carpet around the room as Sirius and I vacuum together. Now when I walk over the vacuum cleaner and touch it, the dog automatically starts excitedly circling the room in search mode. Vacuuming is a lot more fun with my furry yellow friend :)

So anyway, it seems that last night's snack had bounced some distance under the furniture when tossed during the vacuuming game, where it had lain unnoticed for a few days. In many other households, I imagine it could have stayed there for years. But not in Sirius's home. Even though he couldn't see it or reach it, when he walked by, he knew that snack was there and he would not rest until he had it.

I love my dog's sense of expectancy. He lives in hope and trust that snacks will appear, so he is on the lookout for them. And as his belief fuels attentiveness, he often finds what he expects -- not because he believes it into existence, but because it opens his eyes to the possibilities.

And so I ponder -- what do I expect?

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