I was out walking Bennie Bean for his morning constitutional and my opportunity to clear my head. It was the first sunny morning since last Wednesday, the birds were singing, the mosquitoes were whining and at the top of the hill were two of the neighbor’s dogs (a Boston Terrier-Ruby and a Border Collie-something else mix-Buddy).
I tried to turn around before they noticed us, but it was too late. They had spotted Bennie and were running over. I tried to keep walking towards the house, but Ruby came running up and of course Bennie had been trying to drag me back to where they were with every bit of his strength (sorry Bennie mass overcomes determination). His pulling and tugging didn’t work, but Ruby and Buddy came running up announcing that they were ready to play.
Ruby and Bennie started to play, which wasn’t a problem, just an inconvenience, because I wanted to get home, have breakfast and finish my morning chores. Everything was just fine, until Bennie slipped his collar and they both started running down the road back towards Ruby’s house on the other side of the hill. Luckily it isn’t a busy road, but still it was just before 7:00 A.M. and many of the people here are driving to work at this time. Ruby and Bennie wouldn’t have noticed the vehicle anymore than he responded to me hollering at him to “Get back here!”
The three of them were running down the road as fast as they could (a darn site faster than I can run) darting around and running free. If I hadn’t been so pissed at Bennie for not coming when I was calling to him it would have been a fun sight to watch them play. Bennie was in the moment enjoying his freedom from the leash that he is almost always when he is outside – he loves to run and will on a moments notice, without regard to what we want him to do. He was playing, nipping, getting nipped, running and just having a glorious time.
While he was having his great time, I was worried about a car coming over the hill and hitting them. Finally, after about 5 minutes of this, I was able to get close enough to grab him and have him sit so I could put his collar back on and pick him up so he couldn’t slip the collar again (he has it down to a science). This didn’t stop Ruby from wanting to continue to play and follow us back to our home.
Because Ruby wouldn’t go home on her own, I had to lead her back to her house, where her owner came out, got her and apologized. I was a little flustered and frustrated, so I wasn’t my normal friendly self and mumbled something incoherent and walked off. I have a feeling that the neighbors (who live about 1/2 mile away), probably think I am a grumpy old guy. But hey, don’t let your dog run around the neighborhood.
What did I learn from this chance encounter this morning?
- That I felt inconvenienced, my morning routine had been knocked for a loop, which made me feel frustrated and grumpy.
- While Bennie and Ruby were in the road playing, I was very worried that they were going to be hit by a car. This caused me to get pretty stressed about the whole situation, until I had Bennie back in control and safe.
- That when I am not in control of a situation, that I get stressed, especially when I see something as a safety issue and something that I love could be endanger – even if they don’t realize it.
- More than a little put out for having to go out of my way to return someone else’s dog to ensure that Ruby was safe.
- That Bennie had had a lot of spontaneous fun. Bennie had taken the moment, he didn’t worry about anything but enjoying what he was doing – playing with the other dogs. He didn’t worry that I was yelling at him, he just ran around taking advantage of his freedom.
- That we need to provide more opportunities for Bennie to be around other dogs, instead of just us boring old humans.
- That we need to work with Bennie being off the leash more this summer. He needs his freedom to run around, but at the same time respond to voice commands to keep him safe in our modern society.
Looking back Bennie’s complete involvement in the moment and play was actually fun to watch and that much of my stress over the whole situation (beyond the playing in the road issue) was my problem, not his.
Bennie was simply having fun and doing what comes natural to him. As we get older it seems that we are less and less spontaneous and more worried about our routines, schedules and what we think we have to get done next.
Is this a problem that most of us have?
Have our lives become are so rushed and structured that we do not have time for spontaneous fun and that we see it only as an inconvenience, instead of an opportunity to do, feel or see something differently.
Thank you Bennie and Ruby for making me stop and think about what I am actually doing and if that is the way that I want to continue doing things.