That expression on my face is one of confusion, as I'm saying to myself 'But you're not a dog lover!'
For the last few weeks, I was in Cyprus but on the Turkish side, which for me I loved, as this side reminded me of an old world. Of a time before digital, a time when you could still feel connected and have a oneness with the earth through the simplicity of things. Some parts of the Island had buildings that were half completed, but the people still looked happy peering out from their windows. At night many streets were dark, made darker still by the surroundings of bushes and shrubs but even in this darkness people felt safe.
It felt nice to be away from the 24/7 surveillance and constant new rules of the UK. Maybe the feeling I really felt there was one of freedom... though that's a conversation for another time :D
Though I think what really had me thinking was in realizing in their every day just how connected the people are to the natural world. My only real understanding of seeing stray dogs and cats was probably from watching films and cartoons like Lady and the Tramp. In this side of Cyprus, stray dogs and cats were all over, normally laid out on the sidewalks passed out in a deep sleep. Or strolling next to a human trying to form a quick pack in hopes of receiving gluttonous food. (At the hotel I gave a piece of my egg to a stray cat and it looked at it and then back to me like I needed to do better! I turned up my nose and went back to eating!)
Now when out there I had a morning routine of rising with the sun and going to the beach to perform a workout regime that prepared me for the day. Up early, most mornings it was just me soaking in the rays of the sun, the sounds of the crashing waves of the sea, and birds tweeting, in total harmony had me too feeling connected like the locals.
Though during this time, I'd see three stray dogs stroll cautiously around me, watching with intrigue as I performed all kinds of intense workouts, and sprints on the beach. In fact one of the dogs one night seeing me running on the beach decided to bark at me. I'm not even going to tell you what I thought as I may get the RSPCA called on me! But in my interaction with the dog, peace and balance were quickly restored so we could both share the beach in a truce.
So these interactions had been going on for a long time, however, what I didn't say is that I've never been a dog lover! It meant when these dogs would try to come up to me, I wouldn't really pay them much mind, though this was made more difficult as my Mrs felt she needed to be the saviour of the universe and bring food for the dogs! Giving them all the more reason to hang around! But who am I to say anything, everything in the universe deserves a little kindness. I just acted as a bodyguard in making sure that the dogs didn't overstep any marks when being fed.
The funny thing, is though others on the beach would feed the stray dogs too. The dogs would constantly come back and sit by me and the Mrs underneath our lounge chairs, and fall off into the deepest sleep.
Now on the last day of my trip to Cyprus again I was on the beach, just after the rise of the sun. That morning it was rainy, and windy like never before as a storm had been raging just hours before. A short while after I see strolling to my section of the beach the black and white dog part of the three amigos. Seeing me do my training regime again she took her time to come close. When I finished training, for whatever reason, I decided to stroke her, to kind of say I see you too, and I enjoyed your company, a last bye let's say. I'm not going to lie, the dog looked so happy.
So finishing training I went off to breakfast later, and under the direction of the Mrs took some food from breakfast and went to the beach in search of the dogs to give them a good helping of sausages. The hotel won't miss them! :D
Man who told me, the minute the dog see me again, she and her friend were all over me, I'm not going to lie, I actually in those moments could see why dogs are man's best friend, they may have even softened my heart a little bit towards dogs, as later I was telling the Mrs I think I want a dog! :D
Friends and family who know me would be shocked at this photo as they know I'm not a dog lover, however, these strays definitely changed my heart. But what they also did was make me think about just how much joy the dogs felt in feeling that I acknowledged and appreciated their presence.
I think this feeling is universal, of wanting to feel cherished and accepted.
It made me think back to times when I was working with young people who were classed as violent, disruptive and impossible to work with. But like with my experience of the stray dogs, these young people would respond extremely well when you showed a genuine interest in them and tried to understand their world. As often what I personally found is that many of these difficult to work with young people became extremely pleasant to work with in time, though they still had their moments! Not going to lie :D
But what I learned was that everybody (and it seems everything), even the one's you'd never think of, like to know that there's someone in their corner rooting for them to win.