HOGAN & ME
by Jane Davis
As I was waiting for a ride from a friend down her “off the grid” road, a flash of energy came bounding toward me. I knelt quickly on the ground while a spotted white, brown and black dog leapt upon me. He was emaciated, dirty and determined. I played with him for a few minutes until suddenly he sat still, smashed his right paw on my left shoulder and stared into my eyes, his icicle blue eyes piercing my soul.
“Ghost eyes,” I thought.
“You get it?!” he seemed to say. “You are mine. I am yours.” As soon as I acknowledged, “Yes, I hear you,” he started jumping all around.
But he would not get into my friend’s car. I communicated to him that he had to come on his own. He refused, so I said goodbye.
Two miles later, glancing out the window, I saw him running alongside the car, a slight grin parting his mouth. He jumped into the car.
But my landlord said, “No dogs.”
Two months later the new landlord said, “Dog can’t stay.”
We moved twice more before we found our final home, where we have been for the past three years.
For the first year, Hogan thought it was fun to play his favorite game throughout the night: head butting. He would take a running leap onto the bed and smash his forehead into mine. He remained unsocialized despite the training he was receiving. Finally, a friend suggested that I spray him in the face with water. Two sprays later, the head butting ceased. I worked closely with him, attempting to train him while keeping his wild spirit intact. We went to puppy training and the dog park. He became increasingly accustomed to everything in his new life.
He chooses to sleep at the foot of my bed, practically falling off, his paws and part of his body dangling over the edge. No matter how much I coax him to lie next to me, he won’t do it. He has determined where his place is and stays there.
Whenever I sit eating at the dinner table, I can feel a slight pressure on my thigh. Hogan is not begging for food; he just wants to offer companionship and love through the gentle resting of his head on my leg.
One day, Magic, a blue heeler mix found running along Interstate 40 on the Navaho reservation, was brought to us. Hogan welcomed her as if he understood the challenged path they shared. I was hopeful that he would teach Magic things that I could not.
Hogan has great patience, but when he’s pushed it wears thin. One night around 2:00 a.m., I was propelled from a deep sleep by a blood-curdling scream. Running into the living room, I saw Hogan on top of Magic. Magic was on her back, all four paws sticking straight up in the air, peeing from apparent fright. Fearing the worst, I tried to get Hogan off her. But this was a dog thing. I did not exist in their world in these moments. To make a long story short, Magic ceased being a nuisance. Hogan had taught her in a language they both understood.
I had left three rescued dogs with the Atlanta HOPE-HOWSE, where I used to live. HOPE-HOWSE is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, “without walls,” dedicated to service as a path to peace, which includes conducting workshops and animal rescue. Hogan was the first dog to join the HOPE-HOWSE family here in New Mexico.
Recently Hogan began joining HOPE-HOWSE when we went to the state penitentiary to do volunteer work. We met with 20 inmates who are part of the Black Awareness Group that we sponsor.
When I introduced him to the inmates, I told them, “He will go to any of you who are afraid of him.” As I said this, Hogan got up and walked slowly towards two inmates who had confessed that they were fearful. Once they petted him and began to relax, he lay down at their feet.
One of the inmates took Hogan and worked with him for the hours we were there, teaching him to shake hands.
Hogan is now an official volunteer with HOPE-HOWSE and comes regularly into the prison. The minute his service collar and leash is put on him, he intuitively knows he is “working”. He brings unconditional love and light to a place of darkness.
Inevitably, the day after his penitentiary work, Hogan has a contemplative demeanor and generally keeps to himself. It’s almost as if he is reflecting on the community service he has provided. Even Magic honors his space and does not try to get Hogan to play with him on those days. Magic will be joining us soon in our work.
Hogan’s intuitive nature, shining through his piercing blue eyes, radiates all around him.
For more information on HOPE-HOWSE please visit: www.hope-howse.org ; e-mail email@example.com; phone 505-983-6677; address PO Box 9855, Santa Fe, NM 87504