Chapter 14 – The Twelve Principles of Love

“Inhabitation is pretty simple. All you need to do is be your dog-self. Trust and good contact with the person mean everything. By practicing these simple principles while you and Isaac gain Charlene’s and Daniel’s trust, you will simultaneously inhabit them. Slowly and carefully, you will help them raise their warmth, break the shell around their hearts, and learn how to ask for what they want. They will get to know how to love themselves”, explained Marshall, contemplating how dogs have warmer bodies than humans, and with a purpose. 

If you ask any dog, the simplest words kept pouring from his mouth, comprehensible to puppies even, and yet so little people knew them and understood them well or at all. 

“Yeah, I think I know what you mean, Marshall”, Pixie was gradually digesting her first lesson. “I believe these principles have something to do with a saying I’ve overheard people use often: ‘we don’t deserve dogs’ – they say. Am I right?”, she directed her black eyes towards Marshall, irises twinkling from the deep dark wells that emerged from beneath the red fur that covered them. 

Half-curious and half confused, Pixie remembered that she’d never had a pampering session. Her territory was full of rich households whose domestic dogs got regular grooming. Thinking about this, Pixie grew more self-conscious as the fact that Isaac stood nearby and watched her all dirty and smelly dawned on her and wrapped her in shame. Luckily, he was too concerned with that evening’s task to concentrate on her self-perceived faults or notice her discomfort.

“It sure does, Pixie. But people who say that they don’t deserve us are actually on a good path. The others are the tough nuts to break. But let’s not digress into minor, unimportant bits. Here is what you need to keep in mind, girl!”, concluded Marshall.

The first principle is: don’t seek what others can do for you. Rather, think about what you can do for them. Only then you can truly grasp what it means to fall and remain in love with imperfect humans. Humans seem to struggle with this often. They either don’t appreciate themselves or others. It is usually the others. They think: “If only my partner were more thoughtful,  more understanding, more accommodating, more-giving, better-looking, smarter, richer, more-anything, things would have been acceptable for me – I’d be happy”. Do you see what I mean, Pixie?

“I think I do, Marshall. People have mental lists with thousands of conditions to be met and hundreds of boxes to be ticked to find a deserving partner and open to love. And they rarely have enough, from anything or anybody. It’s like they view others from below or from above. They struggle with equal partnerships. Even when they think they respect each other, they forget they are all just human and start demeaning each other. They hold strong to such qualities, we don’t even seem to notice them. For us, each minute, each hour, and each day is a new dawn. We love everyone and with new vigor, as time goes by!”, added Pixie with more zest, as she was immersing deeper into Marshall’s wisdom.  

“Precisely!”, said Marshall.

“One thing in your interpretation is especially on point and brings us to principle number two: all we have is the present moment – the past and the future are a creation of the mind and giving them too much meaning often only complicates love. The past is long gone and there is no guarantee about the future”, elaborated Marshall as Pixie’s eyes sparkled with amazement and a clever smile lit up her face. 

Immersed in the training, she didn’t have the time to see that Isaac observed her energy and cheerful stance without blinking, thinking that, at that moment of time, she was the most beautiful dog in the world. 

“But I’m not sure that will work so easy with Daniel, Mashall. I love you and respect you too much to raise a counterargument out of nowhere, you know that. Still, I think I may need to be more forceful on Daniel. I will need to invade him. I should push myself on him”, Isaac interrupted them with hesitation, as he didn’t want to be a know-it-all, but he couldn’t stop himself. He thought this was something that had to be said.

“Haha, you make me laugh, my dear boy. You cannot win a fight by force. Those victories last shortly. Have you seen a winner in a war? Sure, for a while, one side thinks it has won because it was stronger and more powerful; because it had better weapons and killed more people. Yet, as time goes by, it becomes clear that winning a war doesn’t solve anything. Anyway, we are not trying to win a war here, we are trying to help these humans learn how to love. We try to win them over, notice the difference?”, the old dog raised his eyebrows staring at both young trainees.

“And you cannot make someone love you by force. To act as they love you – maybe. To be afraid of you – sure. But love – love is a voluntary activity. The soft glove approach is all that we can do, want to do, and need to do. You cannot control love, Isaac. You teach people how to love simply by loving them. No other way works”. 

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