Nose to ground; Booker was lost in his pursuit of all new animal pee-mails while I walked behind thinking about the day ahead. Iâ€™d already started two lists of â€œmust doâ€ items, with my mind working on a third. I was essentially a midlife zombie attached to a leash. Fortunately I snapped out of it. Rural delights trumped mental chatter and became my zombie antidote. Â Whew.
The air was nicely bracingâ€”not the typical January so-cold-it hurts- air, and a tiny scoop of blue sky leaked through the clouds.Â Â As my thoughts came back to the beauty of the day I realized I was, once again, completely missing the benefits of our morning dog/human outing. Booker had lessons to teach if I was open to them:
- As soon as I pull the leash off the hook Bookerâ€™s entire being becomes alive with waggles and wiggles and excitement. Heâ€™s not thinking about the bone he buried back in November, the squirrel systematically emptying the bird feeder, or that I was supposed to have walked him fifteen minutes earlier. Nope.Â Â Booker focuses on the walk, and all the possibilities that await here and now.Â Â Not the stuff that happened earlier, not the stuff that might happen laterâ€¦simply now, and that is enough.
- Bookerâ€™s retractable leash is twenty-five feet long. He has a reasonable understanding of how far he can go before the tug reminds him he is tethered to me, or for all practical purposes, to a human “limit.” And yet, even though we walk twice a day, pretty much every day, he tests that limit joyously. For no reason I can discern heâ€™ll perk up his ears and bound forward with speed and glee. Okay, so maybe the leash stopped him from going beyond twenty-five feet every other day, every other time, but what about today? Should he give up because of what was, or should he continue to push the boundaries and find whatÂ makes life so dang interesting at twenty-six feet, twenty-seven feet, and beyond? He tests with no apologies even though I’m going, “Hey! I can’t keep up.” Â My limits are not his limits.
- Sometimes Booker finds a food-ish object on the road and gobbles it down before I can tell what it is, or was. Sometimes he wolfs down his kibble and begs for more. Â Does he think heâ€™s the worst excuse for a dog ever known? Does he run out and purchase a three-day liquid cleanse because he over-indulged and feels guilty? Does he linger on the fact that other dogs will judge him or think he has no willpower? Does he worry that heâ€™s going to look fat in his leash? Nuh-uh. If the mystery item doesnâ€™t sit well with him he discreetly goes into the ditch and vomits. Then he sniffs the smelly puddle as if trying to remember not to eat that in the future. Â (But he never remembers. What fun is that?) Â If the mystery item stays down, great. If he eats more kibble than he shouldâ€¦he considers himself lucky, not bad, or even severely loath-able. Â Food is not his enemy, nor is he defined by his choices. Food, in whatever form, is a source of enjoyment and energy, and then he moves on.
Yeah. There are some good lessons to be learned from a Husky, and I work at applying them to my midlife demons. How about you? What lessons have you learned from your dog that have put life into perspective?