While walking with my husband on a street in Paris last spring, I noticed a couple guys sitting on some ancient church stairs with a Pitt Bull by their side. I approached the guys and the Pitt immediately started wagging her tail. I asked, in very broken French, if we could love on her a bit as we hadn’t seen our sweet doggers in a few weeks. One of the guys indicated that she was VERY friendly and loved attention. I kneeled down, let her sniff me and then went in for an ear scratch. Her mouth pulled back into that goofy Pitt smile that always melts my heart. She then rolled onto her back so I could rub her belly.

My joy turned to horror when I saw a red, raw scar running from the Pitt’s chest to her belly. As I looked closer I saw that she also had a series of small scars running across her muzzle and a ragged torn ear. My thoughts jumped to the conclusion that she had been used as a fighting dog. My eyes locked onto the owner as I asked if he fought her. He motioned to his own face which displayed a nasty set of scars running ear to ear. He explained that she had saved his life. My mind created a terrifying narrative involving the French mafia, high level crime, drug trafficking and my face ripped to shreds by this now scary animal at the snap of his fingers.

What my brain found confusing was that this dog was seemingly so friendly and gentle. The guys appeared kind, approachable and genuine. He noticed my reaction and went on to explain, “that’s what happens sometimes when you live on the streets.” Now with my conclusions and assumptions blown to shit, my mind instantly creating a new way of seeing this situation. Now the Pitt was a loyal best friend, willing to give her own life to protect her owner. My emotions softened around these guys having to fend for themselves in a city so beautiful by day, that could morph into menacing at night. We gave the guys some euros and the sweet Pitt another belly scratch and continued our walk, me with tears of humanity adding a Monetesque hue to Paris.

I think about the guys and the Pitt on a regular basis. My mind wants to make meaning of this encounter. I have no way of discerning the TRUTH of this situation. I doubt there is a Truth with a capital “T” to be uncovered. I often become so tangled in my thoughts, assumptions and
fears of the moment that I miss the awe of the experience. What I know for sure is that day in Paris, I had a human, canine moment that challenged my way of seeing myself, life, others and the world. It made me more aware of how often I assume as I look while miss truly seeing.