It was several years ago when I spent a summer with a beautiful family in Edmonton that I met the very first dog friend of my life.
Prior to my arrival, I was told that the family had a young female dog called Nika. To confess the truth, I had never had a dog in my family, and I never considered myself to be a dog person. I was not afraid of dogs, but I hadn’t had a very good experience with dogs either. So, upon hearing the news, I was a little skeptical if the dog and I would get along well during my stay.
The day I arrived, my host mother walked Nika in a dog park, and I joined them. As she trotted on the grass, Nika’s beautiful fur shined in amber reflecting the setting sun light. I couldn’t help exclaiming many times. “She looks like a horse!” It was not just her colour that reminded me of a horse. She carried a very serene and peaceful atmosphere around her.
At home, Nika was usually kept outside in the spacious backyard. From my basement window, I could often see her examining the perimeter of the house. Every time I caught a glimpse of her, I felt peaceful and relieved.
One day, another homestay girl in the house and I decided to take a photo of each other just as a memory. Nika was resting at her usual spot on top of a wooden step. I placed myself next to her and turned to my friend to click a photo of me with Nika. The moment she clicked, something warm touched my cheek. Nika had stood up and she was pushing her face to mine. That was the moment when I felt accepted by her, and that my feeling was not just one-sided.
During the short time we spent together, I got to see many lovely faces of Nika.
One time, when we were walking Nika, there was another dog behind a fence, and this dog barked at us aggressively as we approached. I was annoyed inside, but Nika had other thoughts. Instead of barking back, she quietly went to the fence and looked at the dog with her gentle eyes. Slowly, the dog behind the fence calmed down and stopped barking. “You were anxious,” said my host mother to the dog behind the fence.
Another time, we went to a riverside, and Nika had a particularly good time enjoying the throw and catch game in the river. A few times, I also threw a block of wood for Nika. When we came back home, my host parents and I stayed in the backyard for a while talking about the apple tree in the garden. I was crouching on the ground when I suddenly felt a warm breath on my neck. As I turned, I came nose to nose with Nika’s happy face. Then she made the howling sound she would make whenever she was most excited.
Nika was the first dog friend that I had ever met in my life. My time with her changed the way I looked at dogs, and taught me what it feels like to really communicate with a dog.