What we do is what we are doing
Late spring and we’re walking a familiar path with the dogs. The sun’s warm but a nippy wind keeps us from lingering. Albert Claude is hurtling along up ahead, nose to the ground. Hard to believe he’s hoovering up smells at the pace he’s moving, but his zig zag action suggests he is. He’s following a scent left by one before him. Was it a dog? Could be, but we rarely see any on this route. A deer, possibly, or small nocturnal creature. It’s early morning.
Behind him Angel canters to keep up. She’s never far from her brother, often leading the charge. Especially at the start of a walk. She’s a coiled spring of enthusiasm, uncoiling fast and furiously the second she feels the leash unclip.
Almost always Cerise and Renae dawdle at the back. Renae is outrageously attentive to detail. She’s our Professor of Small Smelly Molecules. Never content to leave a spot until a lengthy, thorough assessment of everything we cannot appeciate but she can, is complete. A walk with Renae dictating pace is a walk of minutiae. Her observant nature is a thing of wonder, an impressive dedication to detail which brings to the surface an unfair urge to chivvy her along. While her wet black nose is busy at ground level, one of us stands and waits, doing our best to hold back human driven impatience to do what we thought we’d be doing – walk. And we’re getting chilly.
We know it’s an especially smelly spot when all four noses dive in, pushing, snuffling, sometimes watering it, leading to another round of olfactory assesment, times four.
That we can give them this freedom to stop, sniff, dawdle or run as they choose is an honour we never take for granted. Even when Renae’s walk appears more meditation than movement. Each of the dogs has a character that’s different to the others, and combined they form our own unique dog family.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.Annie Dillard