My dog Rudy has had a greater impact on my Aikido journey than even the most skilled Aikido Sensei I’ve trained with. To be clear, he didn’t refine my ikkyo or any other techniques, as that wasn’t his interest. Rudy taught me something more profoundly valuable — the concept of ‘us.’ He showed me that life wasn’t a separate experience for him, my wife, my son, and myself. We were all one to him. If I was unwell or in pain, Rudy felt it too. If someone did something to him, he saw it as a request and he responded gratefully to it. For instance, when my young son playfully put Rudy in a headlock, Rudy thought it was a friendly stretch and relaxed into it. When my son released Rudy from the headlock, he saw it as an answered request and was grateful for the stretch.