Walking in Circles

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Alfie and Waffles have been getting chunky over the winter, so it's time to get them outside and exercising. Unfortunately, the salt on the sidewalk hurts their feet, so I’ve been resigned to walking them in the backyard where there is a plowed circular path. It’s not a long route, so we need to walk it a few times to experience any real benefits. While I’m okay with this, but the dogs think I’m crazy.

They start the walk pulling toward the road, but follow me when I lead them away. They make the loop the first time happy enough, but when it comes to the second they stop dead in their tracks. Alfie looks back at me perplexed as if to say did you get lost? We already did this!

The other day she even stopped at the trailhead and marked the spot as if she feared we truly were lost and she had to do something about it. When we hit that spot a third time, she looked at me again, halted, sniffed the spot, and pulled in the other direction. Waffles was eager to follow her. Again, I made them follow me and they did, but instead of walking by my side, they began to bite at their leashes and play as if to say, this isn’t getting us anywhere, let’s do something else.

I interviewed Barbara Techel this week about her new book Through Frankie’s Eyes. She spoke about the lessons she learned from her disabled dachshund and how it helped her live a more authentic life. I think our dogs indeed teach us important lessons. Watching my two walk the loop, I was struck first by their intelligence and impressed that they realized that walking in circles was not the usual fare. That led me to delve a little deeper. How often do I walk in circles in my own life? How frequently do I follow the same path because it seems safe when in reality I am lost from all the options leaving the familiar might provide? The pugs found no fun in playing it safe – a lesson I plan to take to heart.