Learning from dogs: Optimist


When I was some twenty years of age I met my first teaching master. In those days I wasn’t doing all too well: I was lonely, not very social and had got to Ibiza whithout any goal. I did quarrel a lot and didn't like to connect with people. On account of my inability to socialize I spent my days making long walks along the island. I visited the coast, Ibiza city and the island’s interior. Once I decided to go to the coast passing an industrial zone  by the city. The hour was about noon and it was horrendously warm. I was walking in the blistering sun across the zone and there she was: panting, hot, long-haired and dirty. A small, black doggie full of patches and filth alone in the shade of an industrial zone.

I was no stranger to finding stray dogs anywhere anytime.

Usually I would look as long as was necessary to find them a home but this time I toot it upon myself to do thing differently: I would not get attached, adopt her, project all my lonely feeling on her but leave the situation as it was. I took another look at this panting mess of a dog and thought to myself that just giving some water would do no harm. Uninvited the doggie was already following me and I returned to my then sleeping accommodation. At the time I was living on a boat which was lying in quay being renovated. I gave the doggie some water and concluded I had done my part.

It turned out differently. The little dog kept following me tirelessly. It occurred to me that if I walked back to where I had found her she would go her own way: she didn’t. It occurred to me that if I went to Ibiza she would find her own bearings: she didn’t. In the evening I got into my sleeping place thinking she would disappear during the night: she didn’t. When I came out in the morning she was lying curled up at the base of the stairs. Slowly but surely I realised I wasn’t choosing the dog but doggie had chosen me.

That eventually I too chose her I would soon learn as I took her to a bar after having cleaned and cut her and a young man came up to me and said: ‘Hey, that’s Mora my dog. You’ve cut her and she limps.’ The doggie I had already christened Optimist was lying in a straight line with her head flat on the floor. ‘Mora, come!’ the young man called. Optimist stayed down and the only thing that moved was her left eye than winked at me, then at him and once more at me. As if with that glance she said: ‘Don’t betray me, I belong to you.’ The young man tried again. To no avail. ‘Then I must be mistaken’, he said. I picked up Optimist (I did not want him to see she indeed limped) and said: ‘I think so too. She’s called Optimist and she came with me from Holland’. After that I quickly left the bar and have never gone back to avoid running into the young man again for fear he claim her again.

From that moment on my own socialising began. As a result of her my vulnerable, sensitive side surfaced and I hid less and less behind a mask of toughness. After Optimist many dogs followed and each of them helped me to discover things about my own personality and growing as a human. I have had the opportunity to experience the heeling influence that dogs can have on people. I would like to make an effort to let people experience the same.

Isis opt



Postbus 1636

1000 BP Amsterdam

The Netherlands