It often makes me smile that when we invert the word dog we get god. And what does god mean other then love and total acceptance? Two things that dogs are able to give unconditionally and in huge majestic quantities. This is a story about a particularly wonderful dog-god I met whilst crossing a main road near some hills in northern Spain. I was on a morning hike as part of a raw food retreat I was on for a week. Devi was running beside the road, a huge welt leering above a bloody right eye, which was oozing globs of pus. As we came near she ran off and on we went.
The following day on seeing her again, I abandoned the hike, and with the help of one of the retreat personal trainers started the process of gaining her trust so that we could help her. She clearly needed a vet - she wore no collar, was very thin and had bad teeth. But to me Devi was the most beautiful dog I have ever met. She was creamy white underneath and had these lupine features accentuated by a grace and intelligence that made me feel a little in awe of this magnificent creature.
Within a couple of hours Devi’s eye was being cleaned and stitched out in the gardens of the hotel where we were staying, with a very understanding hotel manager keeping guard.
That night Devi slept in the room I shared with my roommate the beautiful actress Samantha Smith.
“I hope she won’t eat us,” Samantha said getting into bed, with a sideways look at Devi who was spread out happily on the floor. A mother of two; an understandable concern.
But we were in luck: Devi just enjoyed our company, falling into a deep sleep, as did we.
The next morning I went to open the sliding doors so that Devi could step outside and pee. After struggling with the handle I finally managed to heave the heavy glass open, turning around to see Devi climbing awkwardly onto my bed, lying down in an identical position to the one I just been sleeping in, her head where mine had been on the pillow. My heart broke: I was in love.
Later we bonded – chasing each other around the garden with Devi orchestering the play just as much as I, as we took turns to chase and be chased. So much so that I felt like a child who had just discovered the best playmate in the world. Albeit ever so slightly stronger and larger – for Devi was such a huge dog that where I sprinted she merely lollopped.
Later we went on a hike and Devi came with us, walking beside me, no need for a lead. Which is good because they weren’t in surplus. A little along the way we passed by the bottom of a drive where 3 dogs on seeing us pummeled down the gravel and out the gates catapulting themselves towards Devi to attack. Her nature, so friendly and open meant that she turned towards them thinking them friends. As she trotted towards them, seemingly oblivious to their intent to attack, I was filled with a sense of not on my fucking watch and ran as fast as I could towards the dogs, bending down as I ran to throw pebbles at them.
And I remember that moment. I remember the boom of my heart and the feeling that I would do whatever I needed to protect this animal. People say animals are just animals but when we bond with them and care for them we are given extraordinary opportunities to practice love, compassion and anything else that we look to meditation or other practices for.
Here Devi gave me a moment where my inner warrior could express herself with complete abandon and the full throttle of the maternal possibilities brewing inside me. To me Devi personified a spirit of grace and the divine. Hence her name. She felt sacred to me. It was with something like heart-break then when at the end of that walk with two stops and glances back at me, she trotted off and after following her we discovered she had gone back to her owner.
A man who kept her tied and chained around broken glass alone all day to be his watch-dog. After speaking with the man I had no choice but to walk away, tears in my eyes as I watched her being tied up again.
Thankfully though my mother was in Spain a couple of weeks later and bought Devi from the man, giving her to parents of the trainer who had helped me find a vet and who lived in the hills a couple of hours away. Here Devi made friends and became a mother to a stray kitten. Though she was only to live a year. After a farmer on seeing her in a field with his sheep shot her. The family’s other dog who Devi had befriended died shortly afterwards. Cause unknown. Suspected: a broken heart.