This I Believe

Mike - Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in dogs. No, that’s not the misspelling of a dyslexic writer who thought he was writing about the Almighty. Rather, it’s just one of those fleeting personal philosophies that you notice when you’re driving down the road.

You see, I occasionally find myself ambling along behind a certain sport utility vehicle. The SUV is hard to see around, but I don’t care. I’m enjoying the view.

A pink tongue yo-yo’s out of the rear window, almost like it’s going to come loose from the muzzle of a chestnut-colored canine. The rest of the dog slopes into a tinted-window silhouette that ends with wispy fur dangling from its tail. A bumper sticker on the SUV proclaims, “I love Irish Setters.” I love Irish Setters, too. There was one in particular and gone ten years now. But that’s dwelling on the past. The Irish in front of me is looking into the future, a mile at a time.

Sure, it should be crated or belted or fenced inside, but I deny myself the safety lecture. I watch the glowing eyes and streaming ears as it bounds from window to window sampling the air. It conjures up the memory of riding a bike downhill back in earlier days, the onrushing wind streaking tears back along my temples. I’m envious of this dog who dares to plunge its snout into the slipstream and find contentment there.

The Irish couldn’t be more different than the prim Bichon Frise that just cruised by in a white Lincoln. It’s perched on its master’s lap behind the steering wheel. This dog sniffs the air conditioning without the slightest sign of a pant. Loved and secure inside its moving metal home, it has a different kind of contentment.

For me, contentment is harder to find. I find myself buying that certain thing or traveling to a certain place where contentment comes and goes – all at a price. I forget the simple joys of going for a ride, playing without keeping score, or taking pleasure in the sound of a loved one’s voice when they come home from work. Dogs don’t forget. In fact, the two I own remind me of these things all the time.

When my turn-off approaches, I slow down and begin to lose sight of the SUV. Our parting makes me sigh. The dog’s head slews back, eyes smiling at me. As I veer off, I can’t resist. I open my sun roof and roll down the windows. The air surges past. My heart races and my smile broadens. Then I stick my head out of the window and hear the howl of the wind. I hear what the Irish hears and retreat back to humanity. For a moment, I believe in dogs. I just wish to God that I had a tail to wag.