Over the past 10 years Willow and I have had countless discussions. Politics, movies, gardening, home improvement, carpentry. She is, in particular, a good listener. Just the other day a big limb snapped over the fish pond and is now hanging there, suspended in an awkward way so that by cutting it I invite disaster to several plants in and around the pond. It is a vexing thing and is something that I feel compelled to talk about.
Of course when I pointed this out to Willow, and I explained to her in detail my various options and the pros and cons of each, she sat patiently and listened to every word, staring at the limb and then back at me.
I point this out only because I assumed that, by now, Berkeley would be old enough to take on a more mature role in our family. So when she failed to show any concern at all about the limb (running around in circles and laughing while I talked), we went into the kitchen for some lessons in family compassion.
A good family member, I explained to her, should at least pretend to be interested when another member has a concern. Even Cheryl, I said, managed to keep a somber face when I explained all about the limb and its malevolent portent. Just as I, for example, try to be sympathetic when Cheryl isn't happy with her new haircut (even though I don't actually have any hair to cut and would be happy with any cut at all). You see, it's all about empathy.
A good guide dog will also need to be a good listener, I said, but I was still not getting through to her.
...just like I'm a good listener when you believe it is time to eat...
OK, that's better.