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.


2 thoughts on “Walking the dog”

  1. Some people hate dogs. Some people enjoy them but can get along fine without them. And some people require them for survival, in the same sense that they require air, food and water. I fall into that last category.

    For less than the price of cable, I get to live with a comedian, a therapist and a personal trainer, all of whom are on call 24 hours a day, and none of whom asks for more payment than a scratch behind the ears and a scoop or two of kibble twice a day.

    They’re also pretty good at security … and much braver than a certain night watchman I could mention. 😉

    There are some tradeoffs, of course — Scout has covered my home, car and clothing in little white dog hair, my furniture has suffered the ravages of Song’s irresistible compulsion to lick and eventually nibble on any texture he finds interesting, and I can’t walk through the house without tripping over one of Jason’s “blankies.”

    But when Scout does some ridiculous thing to crack me up at the end of a rough day, or Jason instinctively seeks out the most emotionally needy person in the room and lavishes attention on her (I once watched him spend 20 minutes comforting an agitated and extremely intoxicated woman who had shown up on my doorstep seeking help after her boyfriend gave her a black eye), or Song gazes up at me with an expression of absolute worship, I realize I really don’t need for my house to look like Martha lives here.

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