My life walking dogs used to start with early morning walks, me and whatever dog (or dogs) needed to get out and move. Over the years, I’ve walked ex-racing greyhounds and whippets: elegant walkers with such easy strides. I could ease myself into a quiet meditative state, not worrying about other people’s ill-mannered dogs. I’ve walked Great Danes. Such mild, gentle giants guaranteed to slow cars along West Church Street. I’ve walked dogs that were dog aggressive that kept me on my toes, one eye out for other people walking their dogs and I’ve walked dogs that were brats – new to me without any leash manners to speak of – dogs that made me question what I was thinking when I made that decision to bring yet one more dog into the house.
I’ve walked dogs in the early morning and I’ve walked dogs late at night. In the rain. In snow storms. Under sunny skies. When it’s been dark and dreary, Through woods and on trails. Along the beach. Out in fields.
The dog brats settled down. The dog-aggressive beauty and I found places outside of the village to walk; the sight hounds reminded me (always) how grace can be effortless, easy and sweet.
I’ve also walked without dogs – which was kind of odd at first because I didn’t know what to do with my hands without a leash to hold. I felt lop-sided, off-balance. Almost without purpose.
Unless you consciously celebrate the zen: set an intention each time you open the door, step outside, breathe deeply and take that first step, making that your purpose.
If you have dogs and if you pay attention, you’ll slip into that zen state through their energy. Which I hope is where my son’s dog, Gracie takes him. In my life of walking dogs, it took me half my life and so many dogs to find that zen. As I watch him with Gracie – the two of them are now walking twice each day – and, listen to the stories he comes home with – I know he’s at the beginning of whatever his personal zen will be. It happens each time he opens the door and steps outside with Gracie by his side.