It happens every day.
After work, I walk in the door, and she starts to prance and paw
gazing with hopeful light in her brown eyes, asking for it to
HAPPEN. NOW. PLEASE?
If it doesn’t HAPPEN. NOW. PLEASE? and I have to tell her, “Later, it is coming later”
her flickering eyes smolder, her shoulders hunch, and she flops morosely on her bed as if it were the end of her life. She will mope vigorously until it is her time for a walk.
This is Fenway’s daily routine. She is one of three canines in my family, and the eldest. She came to us eight and half years ago, deathly sick with heartworms, would only eat food scraps, and was terrified of a leash. We don’t know how old she is, because we thought she was seven when we got her. The point being, she has always *been* old to us, along with a very serious temperament (except for her acquired joy over afternoon promenades).
The thing is, the happy dance seems to sap her of all get and up and go energy, so walking Fenway takes incredible patience. She is slow, oh so, so slow, in part, because of her age. In addition, Fenway is also very deliberate and indiscriminate in her stopping to “smell the roses”, except in a dog’s case, roses are fire hydrants and tree trunks and fence lines and bushes and discarded trash and stray baby toys that have fallen from strollers. Finally, Fenway is also a little bit stubborn, meaning that she is not going to move away from some glorious stink just because I shake her leash to hurry up.
We had to stop walking Fenway with the other pack members last fall, because it got complicated between her sedate stride and the urgent pulling of our other over-stimulated and excitable dogs. We would end up dragging Fenway, or be dragged by the other two. It wasn’t fair to our pokey matriarch. However, as I said before, at the end of a long day, it can be excruciating to escort the slowest and stubbornest dog down the block for her walk.
And yet, one day, as we were inching around the neighborhood, I realized what a gift Fenway was giving me. I just happened to look down at her as she was inhaling the juiciness of a recently “marked” hedgerow. She was nudging through the leaves, inspecting them thoroughly, and the contentment in her eyes of being able to go her own pace, stopping when she wanted broke my heart open. “Let this being, this old one lead you” my mind begged. “Let her spirit slow you down so you can be with the roses, too.”
Now, I look forward to our afternoon ploddings. I get home, and watch her prancing and pawing, and as I hook up her leash, I feel my spirit settle and join with hers, as we move, step by step into the present moments of being. I am so grateful for Fenway, reminding me daily, to slow down and just be,
be one with mind, body, spirit, soul,
and most importantly, with
God and Dog.
Karla Miller is a United Church of Christ Pastor who knows the truth about cats and dogs, as she and her spouse, Liz, have opened their home to many rescues. She lives in a Boston suburb and loves the Red Sox. Karla blogs at do. love. walk. and is among the contributors to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
Want to read earlier posts our summer series on spiritual practices/disciplines? Find them at these links: Sewing, by T. Denise Anderson; Never on Pointe, by Mary Beene; Photography, by Catherine MacDonald; Pinteresting, by Amy Fetterman; Walking, by Robin Craig; Summer Sabbath Shift, by Sarah F. Erickson; and Routines of the House, by Elizabeth Hagan.
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