Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
I used to be one of “those people.” You know, the ones who think the purpose of walking a dog is to make it around a prescribed loop and come home. I’d pick the same route every time and stamp my feet a little when a sniffing session went on too long. You know what I mean. I had no idea that walking the dog was all about walking the dog. Luckily, I had Shadow to teach me otherwise.
When her nose took over, her brain shut down. Shadow was only able to focus on the smells she so fully experienced. And one day the light came on for me when I realized, “Hey, we’re not out here for me. We’re out here for her.”
The clouds parted. The angels sang. And I became a much better dog walker.
Honey gets pretty good walks. She often chooses the route and how long we stay out. I intersperse games on our walks like chase the squirrel (a very bad idea on my part) and hide and seek (much more successful). I will wait all day if she has to investigate an amazing smell. And we often leave the sidewalks to explore the wilder edges of my city.
Still, I only experience a fraction of what Honey does on her walk. Honey is truly present in every moment–she’s mindful. I’m still halfway home at any given moment. So I’m trying to experience our walks more like Honey does.
My sniffer will never gather the clues Honey’s does but I can use my eyes to see what’s drawn her to a spot. And even my severely limited nose would probably gather a lot more information if I got closer to what I was trying to smell (I’ll have to think about that one a bit; I have a feeling I could end up with a face full of d*g knows what if I try it).
Maybe I’ll even frolic more–you know, stomp into the deep snow on purpose. Skip in the middle of the block just because it feels good. And smile a big goofy grin every time someone walks by.
That’s what Honey would do.