Just one week from today, our son Britain and his dog Lucy will be 500+ miles from home, on their way to San Francisco and a new life on the West Coast.
Lucy’s presence has added much pleasure to my exercise routine for over a year now. This morning reality hit me square between the eyes. We have only six more walks. Then she’ll be gone, never to return.
I know, NEVER is a long time (even longer in dog years). Of course, she could be back, but chances are she won’t. It’s a 2,700 mile trip from West Virginia to California, not something one does on a whim, and certainly not something one wants to do regularly with a dog.
Initially this morning‘s walk was like all the others. I was tossing a ball, listening to my iPod, and watching for cars. In the background, a thought kept nagging at me: Six more walks. Six more walks. Six more walks.
I felt a sense of urgency and a need to make the most of the time we had left. So I turned off my iPod and gave 100% of my attention to Lucy. I wanted to really be in the moment, to soak it in, to record it deep in my memory banks.
“What do you have to teach me before you leave?” I asked her. “You have only six more walks to share your wisdom.”
“Bark! Run! Chase!” It seemed simple enough. But, of course, there was more.
Reflections From Walk #1
Lucy loves to chase Frisbees, squirrels, sticks, cats, deer, and every kind of ball. She also loves to retrieve, so she prefers balls and Frisbees. But she won’t carry a ball for a two-mile walk, so, as usual, I threw it a couple of times and then stowed it in the newspaper box and kept on moving.
As I walked ahead, she whined and barked for a bit, but then she caught up with me. She’s such a good companion, always willing to walk by my side, no matter the weather, the place, nor the time of day.
A couple of blocks into the walk, she spotted it. From her body language, it seemed like it must be the best thing she’d ever seen in her whole life. And there it was, just lying in the gutter!
Wagging her tail, she picked up the broken, orange Wiffle ball and charged out ahead of me, thrilled with her newly discovered treasure.
Wise Lucy’s Lesson #1:
It doesn’t matter when one pleasure is left behind, the Universe has an unending supply. And each experience will provide its own brand of joy. Don’t focus on the past and what used to be. Keep your eyes open for the next treasure. And when you find it, pick it up and RUN!
Reflections From Walk #2
Dannie, Lucy, and I hiked Carriage Trail after the church hot dog sale. It’s a public trail, but the threat of rain seemed to discourage a crowd. As usual, we took a break for a little stick chasing, and I also stopped to take some photos with my cell phone. When we returned to the church, I ordered a couple of hot dogs to take home to Britain. Reaching into my back pocket to grab some cash, I came up empty. Bewilderment – panic – analysis.
It must have come out of my pocket when I pulled out my phone to take pictures. Quickly I turned to Lucy, “Let’s go find my money!” She was a ball of eagerness, even after the hour-long hike.
As we started back down the trail, I said to her, “You know, we’re not gonna find it.”
With that comment, she stopped and looked up at me. Her energy seemed to drain, and she looked confused. “Why bother then?” her eyes asked.
Oh, my! She’s right!
So, I set that thought aside, and said with as much excitement as I could muster: “Let’s find my money! Come on! Where’s my money? Find the money!”
Off she went, sniffing and looking. I was right behind her.
We ran the trail with our noses to the ground …. well, I admit, mine wasn’t exactly on the ground. But I was looking with an intention to find the money. At the same time, I was letting go of the outcome. It’s a tricky juggling act: intending to find it while simultaneously allowing the outcome to be whatever it is. Find it or not, I made my pledge to the Universe that I would be okay, peaceful, and content. (Another chance to practice acceptance!)
Wise Lucy’s Lesson #2:
If you want to kill enthusiasm and energy, start your quest with “can’t” or “won’t” or “it’s impossible.” Even a dog knows that if you want to find something, you have to start with the belief that it’s there. So, no matter what you’re looking for (a job, a mate, or even lost money), perk up your ears, open your eyes, and hunt with determination. And it’s a nice touch if you wag your tail once in a while, too.
Oh, yes, we DID find the money … scattered all over the trail just waiting to be easily found by someone who was paying attention.
The six walks never happened. A storm came through just hours after I wrote about Walk #2. We lost seven trees as well as phone, power, and internet. For the next three days, all the family’s energy was directed toward survival and clean-up. Dog walking was abandoned. Before she left, however, I had one last, long and satisfying walk with my grandpuppy. And as she panted, chased, barked, and frolicked along the path, she imparted one last bit of wisdom, “You never really know what tomorrow will bring, so it’s best to absorb every ounce of pleasure from the now.”
Bye, bye, my Sweet Lucy. I will miss you more than words can say.