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…