April 04, 2023

We’re back!


Allow your dog to take you for a walk every day.  It’s good for the body and it’s good for the soul.

-Eckhart Tolle


We’re back on the rail-trail.  I went to see my physiatrist who thought my problem stemmed from bilateral low-back facet-joint arthritis that showed up on the MRI.  So, I bellied up to the bar for some “Old Man’s Best Friend,” shots of cortisone with a lidocaine chaser.  Worked like a charm.  The pain is almost gone and I have nearly as much mobility as I did before the pain started.  I can even put my socks on without much fuss!

Waldo is very happy.  A soon as we hit the tarmac, he’s off on both sides of the path, tail up in the air and wagging, searching for whatever is there.  He has sticks to herd, people and dogs to meet and all of nature to explore.  He loves our sojourns into the woods as much as I do.  He burns off much of his pent-up puppy energy, drags me along and gives me the exercise I need too.  Often, I’m in my own world, thinking about this or that, looking at the trees and other flora, listening for birds, or whatever, and he’s sniffing around, rolling in the snow and dragging around whatever sticks he feels are worth the effort.  But, even so, it’s a shared joy, these walks.  We both know the other is there, and periodically, we check in with each other with an offered treat, an effort to tempt with a stick or a chunk of ice, or, even more often, just a backward glance.  It’s truly something that bonds us together as friends and a family.

Waldo has come a long way from his hell-bent-for-leather puppy days.  He now readily sits and waits at street intersections until I tell him it’s okay to cross.  When I want him to cross over to the other side of the trail, because a bicycle is coming, for example, I tell him, “This way!” and he looks back at me and complies.  Sometimes I fumble with the leash handle and drop it.  He knows that something happened, stops and looks back to see what’s going on, instead of running off at full speed because he knows he’s free to do it.  He waits for me to catch up, pick up the handle and then we’re off again.  He, usually, comes when he’s called and, if whatever he has in his mouth isn’t too tempting, will comply when I say, “Drop it!”, or “Leave it!”  These changes haven’t happened because of “training,” per se.  They are emblematic of and resulting from the two of us meshing our lives together.

We share a life’s rhythm on and off the trail.  Waldo is very sensitive to routine.  When it gets to be ten o’clock at night or after, he’s ready for bed.  Sometimes he lies down near me, waiting for me to finish writing, reading, watching TV, or whatever I’m doing, until he finally gives up and goes to bed.  During the day, if I go into the bathroom to comb my hair, brush my teeth, or perform some other out of the ordinary task, he automatically goes and lays down in his crate without my saying anything, rightfully assuming I’m going out without him and will want to put him in jail.  During the day, our routine is variable, but we usually go for walks around the property about 5:30 PM, 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM.   He somehow knows when those times arrive and comes in from the balcony to nudge me on our way when they do.

Out here in the woods, what we share is a love of being outside in nature.  We enjoy the fresh air, the views of growing wild things, seeing the vistas of rolling hills, peaceful lakes and idyllic pastures.  Listening to the different bird calls, watching squirrels as they romp and play, catching the rare sight of a fox, or a deer, or a soaring hawk wheeling high above the treetops, are all things we enjoy.  I’m sure that Waldo doesn’t think about these things the same way I do, but I’m also sure we both love being swaddled in the ambience of Gaia.

These daily walks in Mother Nature have become a routine that we both look forward to and miss when we can’t enjoy them.  They take up a major part of our days and are the longest time we spend together.  If I were to describe what my life is composed of these days, I would say it is walking with Waldo, and also some other stuff.

And I’m the better for it.


The COVID garden says, “Hi!”

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