A couple of weeks ago Brody and I were headed out for our usual Monday walk. Since Mondays are my one day off from running each week, we usually stroll along various local routes for an hour or so. I’ve taken him to the dog park before, but never when there have been more than a couple of dogs there. But two Mondays ago we decided to stop in the park, and there were at least 10 dogs there of various sizes and breeds. Brody is easy-going but also willing to defend himself if needed, so I figured we couldn’t get into too much trouble even with a larger pack of dogs.
And true to form, Brody did fine. He stuck close to me at first, looking a little bit lost and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of dogs there that day. But he slowly became more social, interacting with a few other dogs and having some quality play time before we decided to move on.
From there we walked back down the local Power Line Trail to a path that heads into the woods along a small creek. There I was able to let Brody off leash to run and explore for a bit, knowing it’s a safe and quiet area that connects to a small park. Brody loves to run through the woods and track various scents, and immediately he headed down the trail. But he also knows to come back and “check in” regularly with me, and won’t usually wander too far off before doing so.
When he finally turned around and I called to him, he came flying back to me through the woods. The joy in his expression and body language was overwhelmingly evident as he came bounding down the path, mouth open in his signature grin. The dog park had been ok, but this was truly his happy place.
It made me realize how similar the two of us are in some ways – the sheer joy we both derive from time in the woods, exploring. How we can both do an adequate job of navigating the social landscape – him at the dog park and me in a variety of social situations from meeting new people to holiday parties – but this is our preferred escape.
While these warm December days will likely be short-lived, our Monday walks won’t be. No matter what the weather, we’ll continue our routine of getting outside without any sort of pressure or expectation other than exploring and being joyfully content.