Comb in hand I survey the dull, scruffy hair falling over her eyes. Around her black nose the hair is almost ginger and she looks at me with a mixture of excitement and nervous energy. The very tip of her tail flicks anxiously telling me she loves me, but that she is a little worried about the coming event. I place the wider spaced tines into her beard and very gently draw them through leaving behind a shiny, well ordered copper cheek and chin. As I comb, the tension releases in my hand and arm. I concentrate, not wishing to pull the hair and hurt her. The concentration drives my thoughts underground and I feel a peaceful, almost meditative state descend over me. She shifts her position allowing me access to her ears or her tummy and, as I comb, I am aware of big brother curled up on the other sofa, watching me with large, liquid brown eyes, patiently waiting his turn.
Trust, love and loyalty are easily given, or so it seems, and what have I done to deserve them? Very little. Food, shelter, strokes and walks are all that is needed for this unquestioning devotion and it is humbling.
I go upstairs and clump about, moving objects, putting clothes away. They sleep, seemingly ignoring all distractions, until the moment when I pick up boots (thrown carelessly into the bottom of the clothes cupboard). As I come down the stairs there they are. One with a toy in his mouth, the other hopping hopefully from one foot to the other, a big smile transforming her usually worried little face. How do they know?
When we get back home from our explorations, to phone messages, emails to write, errands to run, problems to solve … I reach for the comb and everything recedes as I gently pass the tines through the copper and black hair. The rhythmic movements of the comb and their deep satisfied breathing, the warmth of a large hairy head on my arm, take me out of the stressful world into the cocoon of their undemanding love once more.