29 November

Meditation Dogs: How We Get The Dogs We Need

by Jon Katz

We used to ask very little of dogs other than to sound alarms, and they helped us gather food.

Now, we ask a lot of them; we want them to be emotional support systems, constant companions, sleep inside, go everywhere with us, and also be buffers from the loneliness and disconnection of American life.

They have evolved to be what we need them to be.

Dogs are among the savviest and most versatile creatures on the planet; their genius transforms them into what we need and want from them. That’s why they get to sleep in bed and squirrels don’t.

Over the years, they have changed in almost direct proportion to what we need in an ever-complex and distracting world.

They trick us into thinking they are just like us, and increasingly, it seems to be the truth. I have always gotten the dogs I needed, and only recently have I understood that this is no accident.

Recently, I’ve seen a great example of this with Bud and Zinnia when I meditate.

I take meditation seriously and try to do it every morning for at least 15 minutes and longer when I have the time.

I didn’t quite notice it until recently, but my dogs – all active and lively – have joined me in meditation and become a crucial part of it.

Over time, I have admired Bud, whose generosity of spirit and intuition have overcome the dreadful mistreatment he suffered in Arkansas. We have really bonded.

Fate is usually with Maria in her studio in the morning, and Zinnia and Bud are with me when I meditate. Fate is too restless to meditate, it’s hard for her to grasp. But she is always where Maria needs her to be.

Zinnia is always close to me; she is always calm and quiet when she is near me. It’s taken Bud longer, but he has emerged as a loving dog, easy to be with, spirited, and affectionate. Bud is a lot wiser than I first thought.

He just keeps growing and changing.

Bud has become a spirit dog; he has grown beyond his troubles and become the dog he was meant to be. He is a major presence in our lives.

When I sit down to meditate now, Bud hops up in my if there’s room and on the footstool next to me if there isn’t.

Zinnia lies down near my feet and closes her eyes when I do. Bud watches me for a few seconds, then lies down and also goes to sleep. They are both still until I’m done and start to stand up.

This is not natural for these dogs, who are often up and about, sniffing, chewing bones, and standing at the doors to get outside.

When I write, zinnia is always silent and invisible; Bud is usually out or near the wood stove fires when it’s cold.

But I realize now that both have grasped the idea of meditation and joined in. They support my spirit and quiet; they are careful not to interfere with it. Sometimes I get the idea they are mimicking me, modeling me, and doing the same thing.

I appreciate the support of these dogs when I meditate. Somehow their spirits interact with me and help me be still and at peace.

They have enriched my meditation and are now a part of it. They are the dogs that I need.


  1. My dog also meditates with me. There were 2 wonderful segments on 60 Minutes this week about dogs. One called ‘Survival of the Friendliest’ and the other is about how dogs are leading cancer treatments for people. I think you would find them fascinating.

  2. I truly believe that dogs are able to connect mentally with us humans. Their capability is so far advanced to ours as Henry Beston so eloquently states. I feel it is my job to open my senses and mind to become more aware of my dogs as sentient beings.

  3. I really like the statement that Bud is a spirit dog
    He brings a very special quality from somewhere which is unknown and beyond what we know.
    Well that’s just my interpretation.
    Who knows? Why not?

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