Dogs are at the top of my "favorite animals" list. They have an innate ability to bring us to a calm, or a spastic state. My two dogs, Mazey and Ria, are exceptional dogs. They have big floppy ears and extra sensitive personalities. They also have high prey drive, which means they love chasing squirrels in the park.
I go on walks with them every day, usually twice a day. These walks are mainly for them but benefit me too. Time spent outside is necessary for our well-being. But I have found a deeper benefit in it.
When we are walking in the woods, and one of the dogs does a sharp about-face because she caught onto some smell, I watch, impressed at her focus. And I am drawn to my own focus.
I notice the ground, is it muddy or dry?
I look up at the trees and notice the colors and shifting light.
I notice the bird sounds and the chattering squirrel who made it up a tree ahead and is now sending out a danger cry.
I breathe in deeply through my nose and notice the earthy green smells I love so much. As I breathe in and out I also notice the temperature of the air, the changes from warm to cool in a few steps due to microclimates in the woods. My dogs are sniffing, smelling, incessantly, covering way more ground than me as they go back and forth in the same areas. I focus on them, marveling at their natural comfort in that environment.
I head home from these outings feeling good, energized. The dogs are tired and content.
No one knows for sure how dogs first got us to share our fires and sleeping spots with them, there are many theories out there. They helped us hunt and were happy to finish the food scraps we tossed away. And at some point, they became our friends. At the center of that friendship lies a power to teach. And learn. We teach them, they learn. They teach us, and we are better for it.