Once upon a time, I would think nothing of jumping in a vehicle and taking a quick jaunt across the continent. It was always exciting to leave my footsteps on new and different ground, mentally clicking my odometer like an old Volkswagen bus. These days, my car sits more in the driveway and my traveling territory is the neighbourhood of Home. My companion for the daily journey is my daughter's pup, Rani, now six months old and just over sixty pounds of get-up-and-go.
Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer ( www.cesarmillaninc.com ) talks of the psychology of the pack-walk and how important this is in a dog's daily life, how it strengthens the bonds of the pack and drains anxiety from each member. I'm here to tell you...I've found a lot of truth to this philosophy. It's not been the easiest winter, dealing with my daughter's illness, advocating for others with Lyme, trying to educate the public about tick-borne infections (before our area becomes endemic) ministering, weathering storms, finances, aging parents and the state of the world. The daily, primal, heart-pumping walk of our territory has saved my sanity, while strengthening my body and resolve.
As the days, weeks and months go on, I begin to notice and sense more on our walks. Spring begins to whisper in the trees' rosy blush or turmeric tan, like a shy Hindu bride. Crocus, primrose and heather begin to add their purple, gold and butter yellow to the blossoming morning. Lily, iris, daffodil and narcissus are sprouting their greenery everywhere. Ivy carpets the woods and snakes up trees. Wind storms bring down branches and they lie on the grass like shed and forgotten antlers.
I don't have the sensitivity of a dog's nose but, with the daily walks, I can begin to smell and taste the weather on the wind as it dances up, down, or across the Sound. It mixes with the brine of the water and the sweet decay our rainforest feeds upon, for a new cycle of being. The rain gives a slightly metallic smell and the sun lifts the odor of my own skin and Rani's coat into the neighbourhood news of the day.
We often come across some of our deer population along the way, still in their greyish coats of winter. We acknowledge one another silently and all move on. We stop to say hello to some goats, horses, and donkeys on our route. As we pass fenced-in dogs we lift our heads a little higher, knowing the freedom we have as a pack, walking on and leaving their frustrated barking behind. Sometimes we come across dogs running on their own through the neighbourhood and it makes me sad. It's not responsible or respectful to cast your dog out alone in shared territory. It's also not responsible or respectful to tell me your dog is "okay" as it charges towards my on-leash and frightened pup in the road, while you stay on your lawn!
When we first started on our walks, the many 'earnious' (a word my son made up, meaning earnestly serious!) hills of Home were daunting. Now, I can take three good hills in one walk before my knees and hips remind me that I've been eaten by an old woman! I feel my heartbeat and, through the leash, Rani's heartbeat in steady working rhythm. There is beauty all around us. Whatever had been stewing in my brain leaves and there is only the peace of the pack, in harmony with the day...and the walk.
Tahoma from 9th. St. in Home.
Tahoma from 9th. St. in Home.