I dog walk regularly. It is a discipline that is not always easy to adhere to, but my two companions, my two mixed breed dogs, which are approximately the same size, about firty-five pounds each, are enthusiasts, and so I relent. Hank, a cattle dog mix, is an alpha dog very much in control. Nellie, a rescued mix from a New Mexico Indian reservation, is of unknown origin, but one of the kindest animals you will ever meet. When we are walking through the local greenbelt, I am well aware that we are in completely different universes. What I see, smell, and hear is completely different than what the dogs are seeing, hearing, and smelling.
They react to things, sometimes sooner than I, and I can only imagine what has caught their attention; a snake slithering in the grass, a rabbit blending into the shrubbery twitching its nose. The summer walks take us through the greenbelt teeming with insects and other wildlife. The signs are there, the coyote scat, the rabbit droppings. I see these things, but the dogs are probably aware of what the animal had for dinner last night. Ocasionally a rabbit or a duck or goose makes a live appearance. Rarely do we spy any of the predators, although a young coyote made an appearance several times for a few weeks.
The duck pond is always brimming with activity. Water bugs scoot across the water’s surface like little speed boats, tadpoles swirl in groups as flies and dragonflies hover over the pond. I wonder how the local animals drink the water when I know that if I were to sample the same water, I’d probably succumb to a belly ache that would have me down for a week.
The dog’s ears raise and tilt like radar stations. They lift their noses to the wind, smelling things I will never experience. It is a peaceful duty, and though our experiences are worlds apart, we all find a kind of tranquility in these walks.