Smelling the Roses — Learning from my Dog

My black and white Boston is the prim and proper sort; he has definite thoughts on the way the things should be. I call him my protocol droid.* While he is a formal little man, all gussied up in his natural fur tuxedo, he also has a fat streak of adventure and curiosity. Individual walks with him are a joy. I don’t need to be on close watch for his personal bubble of safety; he’ll try to make friends with anything with breath (squirrel, bird, cat, goose, fox, deer). Walks with my black and white involve him leading me with punctuated exhalations (dog laughter) around trees, through bushes, up and down stairs, and atop short walls. He stops to sniff flowers, bugs, leaves, and unseen stinky spots. He won’t eat bugs right away; he’ll sniff and paw at them before deciding whether they would be delightful in his tummy or just friends. He explores his world deliberately. Sometimes, from full speed, he’ll stop short, staring with startled eyes at…what? He’ll bow, front legs splayed wide, with a gruff growly bark and tick tocking of his nubby tail. He’ll wait for a response from It then repeat the bow and gruff bark several times, bouncing up and down in between. He’s trying to figure out if It is a friend or foe. It may be a brown leaf on a patch of green grass that wasn’t there the day before, an orange cone where it “shouldn’t” be, a stray shoe or hat, a patch of new growth from the bottom of a tree (when everyone knows greenery grows at the top), or anything else that “doesn’t belong.” I’ll let him do his thing, then I’ll approach the object and touch it, making happy noises; he’ll join me, sniffing and wiggling his nub and laughing. In all of my busyness, he reminds me to stop and actually see the world around me, even if for a moment.

* Shameless Star Wars reference for those scratching heads

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