As I sit in my seat with a view, I’m watching a dog. Actually it’s a beautiful dog. It’s one of those caramel cream colored labs, the very expressive kind. It’s the kind of dog that actually has a smile on his face when he’s happy and a sort of melancholy look when things are not as he’d wish them to be. This dog looks half way melancholy this morning. He’s tied to a small tree outside of Starbucks patiently waiting on his companion to continue their walk along the beach. He’s not distressed, he seems to accept this as a temporary break from the daily quest that awaits. He understands his partners need for some caffeine “to go”. After all, what type of person would actually walk around Seattle in the morning with nothing in their hand. The steaming cup sleeved in an environmentally friendly jacket is much a status symbol as the retractable line that he’s tethered to. So he waits patiently. Actually I see him quite often. I remember him because most in his situation look longingly at me with faces urging me to help them in their great escape. They don’t understand their partners caffeine fix and they’re, quite frankly, not as eager to indulge them this break on their quest to greener pastures and bigger hydrants. So they bark and lick and jump and participate in anything to encourage my pity, but not this one. This one barely gives me a glance when I greet him. He’s focused. He’s loyal. So I’m wondering what instills this type of loyalty. I miss it. There’s not much of it anymore. What I used to expect from others just as a form of courtesy, can no longer be assumed. People come and go, live and leave, based on their own whims, preferences and sense of self-preservation.
This dog is loyal though. He’s not budging, no matter how many other coffee seekers offer casual distraction to his partner and delay his departure. There are times during this temporary exchange that I wonder if the partner even remembers that they in fact came with someone else. It’s like watching a movie where the dreamy prom date leaves with someone they found more appealing and worthy of their presence. The human flits and flirts while the dog sits patiently, eyes fixed on his partner, oblivious to the clock and probably his bladder as well. There must be something unseen by me in this relationship that instills this loyalty. One would assume so since I only witness about 30 minutes of their lives each week. There must be reciprocation that goes on apart from Starbucks that has inspired this type of unflinching devotion. Something has been given during the course of their life together that enables him to such undying loyalty. You can argue that it might just be a good obedience school. This isn’t obedience. I can tell by the expression on his face. I envy him. He obviously has caught something that most of us miss. I’m sure that life is not always milk-bones and long walks in this relationship. I’m sure that they have had their share of misunderstandings and messes on the carpet, but the love seems to be unconditional. The loyalty is based on something deep and understood. I wish that we could get that sometimes. I wish that we could hang in there with people who have invested in us. I wish that we could get more beyond the selfish “I” to the “we” of relationships. As a leader of an community of faith I see too many instances of “what’s in it for me”. I’ve experienced more instances than I care to remember where meeting demands only results in more demands and then separation. I’ve witnessed broken relationships that are broken simply because the “I” could never be satisfied. All it would take is a realization of what has been given and a recognition of mutual investment. Some think that this world is going to the dogs. Some days I wish that it would.