I took my dog, Levee, for a long walk in the woods today. Rather, my dog Levee took me for a long walk in the woods today.
I woke up this morning thinking about what I wanted to accomplish- what my intentions were for the day. One of those intentions was to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and get outside into quiet nature with Levee. I wanted to connect with the trees, my dog and myself. So I went about my morning routines and then loaded the dog into the car and headed out to Harms Woods, in Glenview, IL.
Levee seemed pretty excited for another adventure. This past weekend, Kevin, Christine and I took her out for a 5 mile walk in the woods and she totally dug it, so I figured I'd take her for round two on the same peaceful, wooded trail. At first she was in to it- sniffing new smells underneath leaf piles and curiously watching the squirrels scurry by. But then, not even a 1/4 mile into the walk, she hesitated. I would convince her to follow along with me for a few steps, and then she would proceed to sink her head and then put on the brakes. This game kept up for at least another 20 minutes- I'd try to lure her along the trail, she'd take a few steps and then stop, throwing her version of a doggy tantrum. I grew increasingly frustrated.
Finally, Levee put the proverbial paw down and refused to advance on the trail. My dog is about as stubborn as I am, so in many ways I have met my match. I kept tugging on her collar, but she wasn't having any of it. I started to get pissed. I kept trying to convince her to follow me down the trail. By the way she looked at me and the way she froze, you would've thought I was trying to lead her off of a cliff. The whole point of the walk was for Levee and me to connect (and get some exercise) and she wouldn't budge. Again, I got very frustrated. Then I got the hell over myself. I had an epiphany that the whole point of the walk was to connect with my dog, and here I was not listening to what she wanted or needed. I was trying to force her down a trail in which she had no interest.
I looked down at my dog and said, "OK, Levee. You lead the way." Automatically, with a wagging tail and a a new pep in her step, she led the way down a wooded trail that I had never taken before. Both of us became much happier as soon as I let go of my control issues. We walked together for an hour next to a winding river, through the trees and through the quiet of the forest preserve. So, essentially, I went for a walk in the woods where I connected with my dog, nature and myself. I got exactly what I intended this morning.
Sometimes we have a picture in our heads of what we want (and how we want it), and when it doesn't show up in the package we imagined, we miss the beauty of what is right in front of us. We can get caught up in the details, the minutia, and not step away to look at the beauty of the big picture. Today , my dog reminded me about the big picture. My dog schooled me in a life lesson- to have a plan, but to be flexible and fluid.
Thanks for the reminder, Levee.