I had such an incredible animal experience in Varanasi. My partner and I were sitting next to the main burning ghat. Watching those bodies burn. Contemplating impermanence. We started to pet some of the close by street dogs that would just close their eyes in bliss of receiving so much love. Some would lie down and fall asleep as we pet away their stress. More and more dogs started coming up to us to the point where we couldn’t possibly pet them all.
During this time, a fully-grown cow walked right down the steps, into the sand our feet were in. She turned toward me and I held up my hand to let her face meet my fingertips. As I began petting her she got closer and closer until she was practically in my lap. I gave up trying to keep one hand clean and went all in. I scratched and pet all over her face and neck as she breathed slowly. She would move her body in the direction she wanted to be pet and I did not stop.
A baby calf not far off was playing and jumping over a rope that was tying a boat to shore. This calf was right in front of our view of the burning ghat. As a crowd of people began to gather as well as more dogs, the energy got defensive. We could feel a build-up coming and I was keeping my eye on the cow’s horns. Suddenly the cow began head-butting the dogs out of her face. The dogs ran off and started fighting each other. They didn’t want to lose the love. I stood up to avoid the cow’s horns. Once the dogs left she lay down right at our feet. The spectacle was over. The crowd dissipated and our hands were black with dirt.
This experience made us think about how energy is contagious, whatever kind it may be. We have tested this again with many other sets of dogs. Every time when one dogs is getting love others gather and try to get close to a petting hand. Locals stare because these dogs are usually mistreated and shooed or kicked away when they approach. Maybe they think we are dirty, but we don’t care. We can see it on the dogs’ faces the joy we can bring them just by showing some love, even if we can’t feed them.
Even if we can’t afford to feed every animal we come across, love can go a long way.
Who have you loved today?