Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lessons Learned from Dog Walking

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”
― John Grogan

Sparky, Mr. McDougal and I have been awake since about 3:30 this morning.  After I finally gave up on sleep at about 4:30 a.m. and rolled out of bed, I put on my running shoes and shorts and headed downstairs.  The dogs know what it means when I put on my shoes first thing in the morning and they both skittered downstairs joyfully.  Little did they know I had a plan to get my OWN exercise in first thing this morning.  They looked at me sadly as I shut the front door behind me; Mr. McDougal stood there with his head cocked to one side as if to ask, "Kelly, dear, is it not morning?  Do we not walk WITH YOU?"
At the end of my 45 minute power walk, I was tired and my old arthritic knees were starting to swell just a bit and I decided that I would walk the furry beasts later this evening....and then I opened the door.  They bounded toward me, tails wagging, tongues hanging out as if to say, "Yay, yay, yay!  OUR TURN NOW!"

Who can say no to two happy dogs?

As we walked along this morning, I laughed at the two of them as I always do.  They just crack me up.  One big.  One little.  One strolling.  One running along with his tiny little legs a blur.  I looked up at the stars as we walked along and started thinking about all of the gifts my dogs bring to our family.  And, if we pay enough attention, they teach us valuable lessons even on something as simple as a morning walk.

  1. It's always fun to venture out of the house.  Even if we're taking our customary walk route, those dogs bound out of the house like they are ready to summit Mt. Everest or chart an unknown territory.  Their noses go up and out and their tails wag and they pull at their leashes to GET STARTED.  They look forward to our walks every single time.  Fun is to be had around every corner even on something as simple as a morning walk.
  2. Life is better with a buddy.  Even though I think Sparky was pretty happy as a single dog, he seems even happier with his trundle dog tripping along beside him.  They push their noses together as they sniff through the neighborhood and they each wait patiently while the other does his business.  As they walk, they keep pace with one another.  
  3. Who you are is more about what's in your heart that what you are on the outside.  Sparky is a big dog at almost 80 pounds but he thinks he is the cuddliest lap dog you've ever met.  And when he meets people or animals during our walks, he wags his tail and begs to go and meet them.  Mr. McDougal, on the other hand, is a tiny Scottie whose legs lift him maybe four inches off the ground.  He thinks he is the biggest bad-ass to roam the streets.  He struts along at the end of his leash and just DARES other dogs to come over.  "You want a PIECE OF ME?" 
  4. Everything is interesting.  They sniff.  They notice.  They look.  Nothing escapes their attention.  This morning, I took a page from their book and paused to appreciate the beauty of the full moon as it eased toward the horizon.  
  5. If someone loves you, they are willing to carry your crap.  I do not LOVE scooping their smelly deposits into a bag and carrying it along with us.  But I love my dogs.  And I know that they love their walks.  And if I have to carry their crap...well, so be it.  I can take a little crap-carrying in exchange for all the joy I receive walking them.
I adore my dogs.  I hope that I give them one ounce of the joy and wonder they give to me every day.
Is it nap time yet?

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