Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #38

I am confronted by all kinds of dogs when I am knocking on doors campaigning. I am not a dog owner; however, I can deeply appreciate the role they play in people’s lives. They come in all sizes and shapes … and ferocity. One door I knocked on this week I was genuinely shaken by the tone and tenacity of a full-throated bark which clearly belonged to a creature that could tear me from limb to limb if the door opened. Each dog is deeply embedded in the lives of the people who live behind these doors, so I treat their canine companions with deep respect.

There are the dogs whose primary purpose is protection and security. They might offer their centurion status with calm resolute stance ready to pounce should there be an unprovoked or unnecessary movement. Others are more ‘attack first ask questions later’ types. These guardians are the epitome of what front line home defence means. They stand ready to shield their owner from any threat at the door. I am rarely perceived as a threat, and almost every single owner calms the dog and pulls them away from the door so I can be seen and heard. I wish all our inner attack dogs could be controlled so easily. It has got me thinking that perhaps these physical incarnations of protection are short cut ways to set our fears aside having known the message behind the bark has already been sent and so a conversation begins with that as it’s foundation?

Then there are the dogs whose calling seems to be to offer comfort of another kind, the kind that involves cuddling and petting. These dogs are mainly smaller and form a yin yang symbol within the folds of their keepers’ arms. They coo and purr and offer a yap just to remind the caller who they belong too to avoid any confusion or potential abduction. They seem to scurry and hurry to the door and like being part of the greeting – offering a two for the price of one welcome. They are pleased to see you by the look of the wagging tails and equally pleased to see you go so they can go back to their one-on-one adoration fest.

Then there are the dogs, who know they are called to be companions, part-time carers of children, people with disabilities or those who are lonely. They are skilled in mothercraft and there are some I have met that I think should be able to get an NDIS benefit for their capacity to genuinely contribute to the health and wellbeing of their human. They can fetch, watch over, listen, calm, and connect on behalf of their human. Their sensory skills so finely tuned that they know how to help their human navigate their world. These dogs seem to come in all shapes and sizes and at a point, along the way were well trained and their discipline would give any charge nurse a run for their money.

There are many more kinds of dogs in between too – the ones who are not yet sure of their identity and role, and the ones who are nonchalant, and others who can switch roles with a wag of a tail.

With the rise in the number of dogs being brought into family homes during COVID, I expect I will continue to meet more dogs over the coming weeks of the campaign and make visible what matters to their owners and it is an easy route then for me to tune into the person who does answer the door. Thank you to all the dogs I have met so far for being an early detection system before their human opens to the door, it gives me a head start and readies me for a brief conversation.

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

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