As Sunshine and I walk this morning, she is delighted with everything she encounters on our trek.
She sees a chipmunk scoot across the sidewalk in front of us, and forgets momentarily what the word “heel” means. The end of the leash catches her, and she looks back at me as if to say, “Why did you do that to me? I almost had it!”
A truck with a thundering motor whizzes past us, traveling well over the city speed limit. Sunshine jumps in alarm and tucks her tail as it goes past, and decides she likes walking on the other side of me. She feels safer now.
We enter the park, and her nose and ears go to work. Her ears perk up, and I can see them changing direction as she picks up sounds that are too obscure for me to notice. Her nose begins mapping the earth, as she analyzes scents of other dogs, squirrels and chipmunks, and possibly a deer. I wonder what signals are traveling from her nose to her brain, but she won’t tell me. This is her secret. She’s a dog, and I’m not. She finds a patch of clover, and begins licking the dew off of the leaves. The walk is making her thirsty, but she isn’t ready to head back home yet.
She stops to examine the stump of a tree alongside our path. I don’t push or hurry her. This is interesting stuff, and she is very busy absorbing and categorizing all that she is smelling. Perhaps it was a Golden Retriever who last visited this stump, or maybe a German Shepherd. Whoever it was, it left an abundance of smells for her to enjoy. Satisfied that she hasn’t missed a scent, she squats and leaves her own calling card for the next dog that happens this way. She looks up at me, waiting for the “Good girl” signal that she has done well.
Alert, Alert! There is another person in our park! Sunshine spots him from where we are, and knows that he is her new best friend. Although our path isn’t going to follow his, she is determined that she is going to introduce herself and tugs at the leash with all her might, her tail wagging furiously, with her ears straight up and at attention. I correct her with a gentle tug, and remind her that she can’t meet everyone she sees. She is not happy with me, and tries the leash tug again. I pull her toward me, sit her down, and have a talk with her about who is our pack leader. She doesn’t want to listen, but finally she decides that there may be something in closer proximity that I might let her explore. Resigned, she grabs one more glance in the direction of this new friend, and we continue on our way.
Another clover patch, and her sniffer goes into action. This time, she disturbs a bumblebee on a clover blossom. Somewhere in the depths of her brain, she remembers getting a little too curious with something similar last summer, resulting in a sting on her snout, and she scurries out of the area, with me right behind her. I tell her she is a good girl, and she gazes up at me with adoration.
We exit the park and head towards home. She is a little tired, and stays next to me as we walk. As I unhook her leash outside of our door, she looks up at me to tell me “thank-you”, and waits patiently for me to unlock the door, so that she can get a drink of water and head for her bed to take a nap.
I wonder if she dreams about all of the sights, sounds, and smells from her morning out in the park.
The funny thing is, she’ll be ready to repeat this activity later today, and it will be as if it’s her first time. You know, there’s something in this that could teach me a lesson or two.