by Stefano Bolognini
My daughter Chicca, five years old, was an unusual interlocutor for our new family dog Lajos (a super-vital Airedale Terrier puppy). At the beginning Chicca was physically superior to Lajos; but in a few months, from vorociously slurping down puffed rice, cooked ground meat and a variety of other chows, Lajos matched and then overcame Chicca in terms of weight, size and motor skills. Nevertheless, Chicca maintained total respect in Lajos’s eyes: an esteem and an authority that she herself didn’t doubt; and this remained unchanged over time.
I have a curious scene in mind that I happened to witness in the living room: a kind of parade in which Chicca in the lead was singing and holding a carnival trumpet with colored fringes in one hand while, with the other hand, she dragged a scarf on the floor, like a dress with a long train With her singing she marked a rhythmic walk, as in a victory procession. Lajos was following three feet behind, imitating Chicca’s rhythmic pace, more or less like a horse doing dressage.
I was lying on the sofa, reading my newspaper. I raised my head to look, and this bizarre parade playing out before me; disappeared into the kitchen and then reappeared, always at the same pace (so that I easily determined that in the kitchen they had continued around the table). This procession was continuing on to conclude the ceremony – always singing and marching – beyond the threshold of our bedroom.
How had Chicca worked her magic on Lajos (like the Pied Piper of Hamelin) so as to induce him to participate so perfectly in her ritual,? It seemed so incongruous for a big puppy, normally consumed by the instincts of fighting, hunting and adventuring to be this glorious participant in the parade?
God only knows.
The minds of an evolving dog and of a little girl had created something “interpsychic” which seemed to fit both of them, and I had had the honor to witness it.
I imagine at the heart of their strange performance there was an unconscious, primitive representation of the enchanted, deeply dependent link which connects each /puppy/baby to the mother: the two of them had acted out and somehow celebrated that fantasy, emphasizing its vital importance.
Chicca had portrayed “The Mother” (her own mother and also Lajos’ mother), with highly esteemed features (like the capacity to mark the times and rythms of existence, through her cadenced stepping and singing; The Mother’s rich and lively nourishing generosity, well symbolized by the “trumpet/breast/phallus” colorful fringes; and the natural leadership of her demeanor).
By simply being himself in an authentic way, Lajos the puppy-dog had unwittingly portrayed something of her too, yet fully enjoying the experience.
Deliberately I won’t go beyond interpreting: one has to respect the essential grace of some every day events of which lack of awareness (unconsciousness) and spontaneity are the main ingredients.