I read an article quite some time ago by a journalist who shared some of her newly changed behaviors – all because of a shaggy dog who showed up on her front porch one summer evening. She was sitting on the steps and they just stared at each other for quite some time until, of course, she moved first – thinking he might want something to eat or drink. The dog was very grateful and once he had a drink he just plopped himself on the step where she had been sitting. At the time of this encounter she was behind on deadlines for several magazine articles, had been on the front porch with her laptop trying to catch up and really didn’t need this interference of figuring out who this dog belonged to, how she would get him back to his owner or if she would even be able to find them. She didn’t want to think about taking him to the shelter – she always heard nothing good came of that for many strays.
She let him stay for a few days only because she was swamped and he didn’t have any identification or seem to create much of fuss – for the most part he would sit on the porch and just stare out into space – she wasn’t sure if he was zoned in on anything specific because even the squirrels didn’t distract his staring. She had wrapped up most of her deadlines so could concentrate on the dog – she thought she was a cat person and not a dog fan but really was ambivalent to having any pets – too much responsibility, she traveled quite a bit, and the list of excuses went on and on.
They had developed sort of a routine so why not wait to see if anyone put up posters or placed an ad for a lost dog. If not over the next week, maybe she would give him a name – but that would signify a relationship and she was really a loner.
Fast forward to a year later and of course, they are inseparable – Toby travels with her for stories and she wrote a journal that was published on life lessons from her dog. She shared just how important sitting on the steps and staring out could be to finding balance and actually living in the moment – not worrying about two weeks from now or something that happened last month. It took some discipline to quiet her mind and Toby would know when she wasn’t really with him.
I decided to take up this ritual a few months ago – sat in the backyard on a blanket with our furry kids – they had just had their nails clipped and were taking in the lovely afternoon – it was very hard to not think about the weeds that needed pulling or shrubs that should have been trimmed. It took some practice but it is kind of fun and peaceful to just stare with them – dogs are very wise!