From The Observer News (www.observernews.net)

Wandering Florida
Wandering Florida: “Choosing The Path of the Dog
By
Jan 19, 2007, 08:53

By Joe Murphy
wildcritters99@aol.com

I set out walking the other day with my three dogs blazing ahead of me on the trail. I was lost in contemplation and thought as they bounded from smell to smell and sound to sound. Sometimes it is a puzzle to ponder as to the question of who is walking who.

Dogs are magical creatures to me. They have seemingly boundless energy, deep and profound loyalty, and the ability to recognize what is the most important next event in their lives instantly (food, sleep, play, etc.). They don’t get lost in second guesses and self doubt. They plunge in with complete and utter joy.

It is a treat to walk with my dogs in the woods and watch them on a cool winter afternoon. Two of my dogs are powerful runners and run with reckless abandon. My other dog is a hunting dog who is overjoyed with the smells ands sounds of the woods. They run in large circles around me, crashing through the brush and following each other’s trails.

I set out upon this trail with the usual trials and tribulations of everyday life cycling through my small brain. I tried to let the magic of the woods wipe clean the mental slate and fill me with the peace and joy that I was seeking. Some days this happens the moment I enter the woods. Other days it is elusive and I never quite reach the clarity I seek.

I suspect if I were to share this conundrum with my canine companions they would assert that I was overthinking this just a little. After all, they might tell me, my mistake is not taking the path of the dog.

The path of the dog is a simple one. Be where you are in that moment and completely give yourself to it. If you’re happy, wag your tail. If the food bowl is in front of you, eat with gusto. If the woods beckon, run and jump until you throw yourself to the ground with an exhausted and satisfied thump. If you love the people or dogs around you wag your tail, lick their faces, and play with them for as long as you can.

I picture myself out on that trail, poised to debate the finer points of this theory with my dogs, only to find myself standing alone as they bound away. Again, too much thinking on my part and not enough embracing the moment.
So, what would I have to do to walk the path of the dog and follow these four legged leaders? Well, as the Florida folk music legend and poet Dick Joslyn once observed perhaps I should try loving as many as possible, as much as possible, for as long as possible. It is a good place to start.

I hope that the next time I step into the woods and begin down that trail I stop to listen, to smell, to study the angle of the sunlight falling through the trees. I hope that I lie on the ground and wallow around in the leaves and the soil. I am not much of a runner, but perhaps I’ll try a little sprint through the trees.

In a complex and challenging world, perhaps all of us could learn something from our canine friends (although I draw the line at sniffing butts) and embrace the simplicity and beauty of whatever moment we find ourselves in. May you take, and enjoy, the path of the dog in 2007.

Joe Murphy can be reached regarding his “Wandering Florida” columns via email at HYPERLINK “mailto:wildcritters99@aol.com” wildcritters99@aol.com He hopes to spend a lot of 2007 in the woods with his dogs Brahms, Coco, and Cirrus.





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