Dog ownership has come with a few surprises, some good, some not-so-good.
Who knew, for instance, that dogs enjoy a rollicking roll in animal carcass? I discovered that on a walk last week when I felt a tug on the leash and glanced down to witness Josie rubbing her head in a motley pile of bones and wisps of fur. Please enlighten me on the evolutionary benefits of cozying up to a dead rodent. I’m kind of missing how all that jibes with the survival of the fittest.
Pile of smelly bones aside, Josie’s good qualities do overshadow the bad. One of the things I love most about her is that she helps me slow down to see.
Last week when we were out for her afternoon constitutional, we cut across the golf course that runs along the backside of our house. When she stopped to sniff, I noticed a concrete bench off to one side of a stand of pine trees, so I sat.
And you know what happens when you sit, even for a few minutes, right? You notice. You notice everything you’ve missed in your go-go-go life.
There were about 100 birds in that pine stand – red-breasted nuthatches, chickadees, grackles, robins, mourning doves and even a red-belly woodpecker. I couldn’t see the woodpecker, but I heard his cackle amid the chorus of other bird calls, hundreds of them tweeting and twittering from high among the branches.
I sat and listened to the birds, to the wind blowing hard like the Holy Spirit through the boughs, to the steady thrum of cars hustling up and down the boulevard across the greens. As winter’s chill seeped through the seat of my jeans, my eyes rested on the calm of March’s stripped-down landscape – bare wood, stiff grass, blue sky, the pattern of branches like a lace doily on the ground.
I’ve lived in the same house next to the same golf course for the last thirteen years, and never once have I noticed the pine stand or the concrete bench, though both are less than an eighth-mile from my front door. But last week, my dog gave me a reason to try a new route. And when I did, when I sat still for a few minutes, the sun warm on my back, the cold March wind in my hair, I realized she’d led me straight into a sacred sanctuary.