Sharing a brain and heart

How my connection with my dog has impacted my perception of love


Aashi Venkat

My dog and I tend to think and feel very similarly, translating over into how we treat and perceive others

Aashi Venkat

My dog and I are one and the same. Granted, I’ll probably never walk as much as him, and he definitely doesn’t know what a derivative is, but the two of us have the same motives when we sit together in solidarity, be it waiting for a loved one to come home or keeping an eye on the squirrel invading the backyard. And when we both require sunset walks to clear our minds, our minds seem to be synched. 

Aashi Venkat

I always believed our similarities fell short in the face of danger — when there’s a bomb, my first instinct is to run, but his is to defuse. So on a fateful evening walk, when a black labrador pinned him down and began biting his exposed front legs, he didn’t run nor did he fight back. Instead, he remained calm, refusing to believe the massive figure over him would ever intend to cause him harm. It was only when his friend, a tiny white furball who was accompanying him on the walk, latched his teeth onto my dog’s attacker that the fight stopped. But it left a cruel aftermath in its wake: my dog, bleeding, and his attacker, freaked out but relatively unscathed.

He was left with a deep scar on his front left leg, serving as a reminder of the events that unfolded that day. But perhaps that was his only reminder because, mentally, everything remained unchanged — he continued playing with every dog he saw, letting them in and instantly believing their nature to be good. Honestly, it’s so easy to brush his ignorance off as stupidity, his purity as naivete. 

Aashi Venkat

And despite my past confusion about his actions, I’ve slowly realized that we’re more alike in the face of danger than I previously assumed. These past few months, I’ve heard from my friends and family that I’m too trusting. Maybe they’re my labrador — I’d let them bite me if it meant I could keep them in my life — but as seen through what happened with my dog, having a labrador is dangerous and unhealthy. So while I love my friends and family for serving as my little white furball, for saving me from toxic situations I’d have never left on my own, seeing myself in my dog’s experience made me realize the importance of becoming my own little white furball. 

For my dog and I, our biggest strength is our biggest weakness. Trusting others lets us expand our social circles, far beyond what either of us are mentally capable of maintaining, but trusting others also lets them walk all over us, eventually running us into the ground. There’s a middle ground somewhere in there, dividing being a pushover from being too closed-off, though I’ll admit I’ve never quite found it. So I chose to draw a somewhat vague moral line, speaking up when my brain and heart agree that the situation is unjust.

“That was rude…”

“What is wrong with you, genuinely?” 

“Please, just shut up!”

Most of my retorts sound like things said by kids on the playground: juvenile almost to the point of hilarity. But I’ve learned that the people I want in my life will listen and act accordingly towards me — whereas the people who refuse to acknowledge my voiced discomfort don’t deserve my heart. In light of recent events and my learned ability to hold my ground, I’ve begun to be more selective in who I deem a friend. So while my dog still socializes with any dog he encounters on a walk or at the dog park, I choose to approach others with a note of caution. 

I still watch his interactions through a lens of admiration, slightly envious of his trustworthiness and protective of him nonetheless, because while trust is admirable, there must first be a barrier, a metal detector that filters out and rejects those who are unworthy of my trust. For now, I’ll act as his along as mine, protecting the two of us from the openness of our own hearts.