I went on a long run this morning. An hour. Is that long for real? It's long for me. Anyway, I needed it because I was feeling a little, um, emotional and it's my best defense against the cries. So I got home and was all about to write, when Elsie looked at me with her big brown dog eyes, mouth open in a smile, and I knew she wanted to go on a walk. Okay, fine. My right foot is still a mess and I never cool-down enough so I thought, Let's do this. I grabbed her leash, poop bags, and we headed out.
Walking with Elsie is always a challenge. She's not a huge dog- she's part black lab, part who knows what else, and weighs about 55lbs- but she's an excited dog, and she pulls when you walk with her. I've tried the Gentle Leader, tried the retractable leash, tried making her sit every time she pulls, none of those things work. The thing is, she's so happy to be outside. You can see in her eyes, her face, that she's filled with joy to be walking. And it sucks, because I know that about her. I want her to be happy and bound and run ahead. Except that my arm isn't retractable, and my foot is stiff and can't walk as fast as she wants to, and it's kinda painful for me. And then, out of nowhere, she smells something that intrigues her and stops. Abruptly. And can't be budged. So our walk is this combo of her pulling me and me pulling her and it feels like we're never in sync.
Because we aren't.
Walks with Elsie are just about her. A chance for her to get out and experience the world. To run, sniff, to chase after the bunnies she'll never catch. To pull the hell out of my arm. She's not thinking about my needs- that I might have to walk at at a slower pace, or that I have things I want to get done at home. She's not thinking about those things because she's a dog. I need to recognize that, and release my expectations of what walking with her could or should be like. Find joy in her joy.
Listening to: The Joy Formidable