Walking the dog

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will make you more conscious of nature than taking a walk with a natural-born hunter.

I ran with Suzanne on the river trail this morning. Songdog joined us this time.

When we got to Suzanne’s, Song directed my attention to a trio of squirrels that were playing in the front yard. Fortunately, I saw them before we got out of the car, so he didn’t have a chance to chase them.

I got kind of annoyed with him when he got sidetracked and drifted in front of me, tripping me, a couple of times on our walk, but he was really very well-behaved … especially considering the amount of information that constantly bombards his senses and distracts him.

In the wild, canids’ survival depends on their ability to find and capture prey … so Song is hard-wired to be infinitely more sensitive to nature, in all its madcap glory, than I am. He notices the birds. He notices the squirrels. He perks up his ears at the slightest noise. He detects the most subtle odor and inhales deeply to try and figure out what it is.

If he could talk, he could tell me the species and probably the identity of every creature that ever left its scent on the trees in front of Suzanne’s house. He could tell me exactly how many different types of animals and edible plants can be found along the trail. He could identify every creature living in the river. And that’s just what his nose tells him.

This morning, he overcame a host of distractions — Strange people, seagulls, other dogs, a mockingbird, a leaf blowing across our path, and a vast array of sounds and smells I can’t even begin to imagine, let alone detect — and trotted along at heel for three miles, with only a couple of momentary lapses.

Sometimes dogs amaze me.