Dogs are only here for a short visit. They don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And want to smell everything along the way.

October 24, 2017 4:53 pm

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Chapter 7: A Walk on the Wild Side


Every day Winifred takes me on an afternoon walkabout – slow and leisurely because we have no place to get to, and no appointed time to get there.


We park at a four-way intersection on Carmel Point.  Which way to go? North, South, East, or West?

I want to go this way. She stops and looks at me.  Just looks. And I explain why I want to go this way and not that. She gives me her not going to happen, look.  She is content to wait me out while I explain in great detail why we need to go this way. She listens intently, happy to let me babble on. Until I realize that however brilliant I make my case,  I am wasting my breath. Winifred has made up her mind. There is a lesson here. Quiet resistance. Wait me out. Let me make my argument. Then take me the way she wants to go.

This is not easy for me. There have always been places to go, people to meet and things to get done!  Not so much anymore. My walks with Winnie have introduced me to the joys of just being along for the ride. Her ride. Even Ernest Hemingway, whose life was anything but a spectator sport, preferred to ride shotgun in later years. He considered it de rigueur to leave the driving to others so he could fully suck in the Spanish, French and Italian countryside he had written about in The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms.

Having no such literary excuse, I focus on Winnie, eyes, ears and nose on full alert for life’s little adventures. I am reminded of Walter Hagen, a golfer and contemporary of Bobby Jones back in the 1920’s and 30’s. Hagen enjoyed the game, and life, to the fullest, famously showing up for an early tee time still in his evening clothes from his all-night adventures.

Hagen said, “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

I believe Winifred knows that dogs are only here for a short visit. So, don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell everything along the way.

Winifred’s nose probes the asphalt, gravel and earth for clues to who or what has trod this way before. I smell nothing, my nose apparatus many thousands of times less sophisticated. But Winnie’s many stops allow me time to use my eyes, look around and look up. I see the tops of towering Cypress trees, a giant nest for some winged creature hiding in a tangle of branches touching the clouds.

Winnie sees something too. Her ears perk, nose twitching.  I follow her steely gaze… Nothing. What is it that has so enraptured every fiber of her being? I feel left out.  And then a feather moves behind a lower branch. A bird? A plane? No. It’s Super Squirrel! The big grey tail flashes and the squirrel looks down at us – gives Winnie a happy cackle. Winnie strains at her leash. Let me at him!  I can climb that tree.  No, she can’t. Nor can she fly like a bird, but that hasn’t stopped her chasing Sandpipers on Carmel beach. I watch her enthusiasm for the chase as the squirrel scampers higher up. Makes me want to get back in the hunt. Her interest in exploring the simplest things reminds me how many simple things I take for granted. Her joy of noticing… everything, makes me smile.

I’ll have what she’s having!



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