On one of our usual walking routes, there’s a spot next to the path that attracts Lucy’s attention every time. Without exception, she pulls hard on the leash so she can get to that spot. It’s been like this for months. At first, I thought someone had dropped something delicious (or, just as likely, something disgusting) in that spot. But that was early in the fall—there’s been plenty of rain since then, and surely whatever was on the surface is no longer there.
So, I’m left to wonder what’s happening for Lucy when we come near that location each time. Is it an actual smell? A memory? A visceral response to a past experience that feeds a lingering hope of finding something irresistible?
I don’t know. I suspect I’ll never know. I’m not quite curious enough to stick my own nose in the ground there. Nor am I invested enough to do actual research about this canine behavior.
But these observations have led me to wonder if I have some of the same impulses as Lucy’s—a predisposition to assume what I’m going to find in a particular place, with a particular person, through a particular experience.
And I wonder whether I would be well served to consider what might have changed over time, what the proverbial rain might have washed away, where the winds might have blown.
How have my own needs and tastes evolved since I was first drawn to that irresistible thing? What might I be missing in my singular focus on that spot each time I travel that path? What new information, emerging beauty, and delectable distractions might be available to me if I only expand my view?
P.S. Incidentally, today Lucy and I walked that path—after I had written what you see above—and just as we approached The Spot, her attention was drawn to the atypical barking of the neighbors’ dogs. A distraction! And her nose didn’t go to the ground at all. By the time the other dogs settled down, she was restless and ready to move on. Our usual habit had been disrupted, and the hubris of my “without exception” certainty has been challenged. I wonder what tomorrow will hold…
Dogs are so wonderful.. There is only so much they can tell us — but this is how they do it. As for our own repeated impulses, yes, we all have them. I try not to think about too much. 😉
Paula J Linn
I love how the concept of curiosity keeps coming up for me (and Lucy). Since Paige, signed her reflection “Curiously, Paige” I just have to share this resource. https://nextbigideaclub.com/magazine/never-thought-way-fearlessly-curious-conversations-dangerously-divided-times-bookbite/33900/
I hope including URLs works in this format. I have much to say about this book and the “bridging conversations” she teaches. I just talked to a woman from Cedarhurst UU that is leading their Braver Angels outreach in Carroll County. And the author, Monica Guzman, has recently moderated a “bridging conversation” hosted by Woodinville UU Church in the state of Washington. If you want to know more about Braver Angels, visit BraverAngels.org. Don’t let their name dissuade you.
I hope to share more after I see if there is interest in the upcoming Courageous Conversations event this month, starting February 7th.
I am frustrated to not being able to learn “dog” speak nearly as well as my dog Nancy learned “people” speak. And we think we are the intelligent specie on Earth. Dogs do prefer routines I think. I decided that mine went to certain spots to receive her pee-mail and really got excited when we stopped at a rest stop on the road.
Routine must actually mean predictable event and we like routine too. It feels safe, comfortable.
And then that wonderful thing happens – the unexpected. Adventure! Love it, scary stuff and all.
Thank you for the reminder to watch for it among the routine.
Nothing like our doggie babies. Pain meds were no longer working for our Casey. We had to give him up last night. Our 💕 are breaking 💔 Phyllis & Jim