Monk - as are most canines - is hyper-sensitive to emotional states. Frustration makes him nervous. Anger scares him. Fury terrifies him. This hyper-sensitivity, which is really a form of hyper-empathy (not in this case, however, in the sense of identifying with the emotional state of another, but rather feeling the full brunt of it, taking in, and often being overwhelmed by the energy of the emotion, even though it was not directed towards him), made Monk the ideal moral compass because he would become so emotionally distraught when I entered these altered states (I really don't know what else to call them) that his response was to tuck his tail between his legs and slowly and trepidatiously trot off towards home in order to get away from me.
As he moved away from me, in an obvious posture of frightened submissiveness, he would keep looking back at me every few steps, gauging me, evaluating me; he was totally cued into me: he registered every facial twitch, every change in complexion, every flex of every muscle, the tone and pitch of my voice, the overall tension of my body, how I was holding myself, and as long as he picked up barely restrained savage rage - which was a throwback, by the way, to my early years of depression in my teens when my depression manifested in rage, which is not unusual in young boys - he continued to move slowly away from me.
If I happened to look up and see Monk in this posture slinking away from me, heading for home, the profound energy of his fear, of his need to get as far away from me - his closest and most dear companion - as possible would immediately shock me, as if I had been hit with a defibrillator. What I could not see or feel in the pigs because I was numb to their emotional state and blind to their body language because they were the object of my sadistic rage, I felt in every fiber of my being emanating from Monk, and it immediately struck me that I was being a sick, twisted, sadistic monster. In Monk's posture, in his desire to get away from me, he was mirroring the emotions and desires of the pigs.
Upon seeing Monk, I would suddenly see the pigs as they really were - distraught, terrified, desperate for my assault to end - not as my rage had me believe they were - obstinate provocateurs who were getting what they deserved - and that rage would immediately collapse. I would stop, stumble my way out of the paddock away from the pigs, and breathlessly call out to Monk, who, sensing there had been a shift in me, would pause and then turn around and make his way cautiously back to me. When we were together again, I would kneel down and bury my face in Monk's neck, holding him, stroking him, beginning to feel weak and trembly as the adrenaline and whatever other hormones were coursing through me subsided; I sometimes sobbed uncontrollably. Gaining confidence that I had really returned, Monk would pull his head back, look me in the eye for a beat before breaking eye contact and then lick my face once or twice before stepping forward and burying his head in my chest, eager to cement, through intense, intimate physical contact our reconciliation.
I said before that Monk was at the time my moral compass, which he was. But, he was, and is much more than that. He is my root, my ground. He is the gravity that keeps me from spinning off into the dark void of my own self destruction.