Taking up a suggestion from Pamela of Something Wagging This Way Comes over the weekend Shiva and I took a walk guided entirely by her nose. I don’t recommend doing this unless you have a lot of time to spare. Perhaps my dog is just a slow reader, but when given the opportunity to freely sniff, Shiva knows how to take full advantage. There were a few times I had to nudge her nose along when it led us into a muddy ravine. So I also recommend wearing boots when going on such an adventure.
I noticed right away that I was much more present. I wasn’t thinking about all the things I needed to accomplish. It seemed that when the pressure of deciding our route was taken away, I let myself stop worrying about other things as well. I’d left my cell phone at home and couldn’t keep checking the time. We just walked.
I’ve remarked before on how well the lives of canines and humans delve together. Dogs are most active at dusk and dawn, fitting in perfectly with our nine-to-five lifestyles. They like to play as much as we do and are more than willing to clean up our messes. But it struck me as Shiva and I investigated the smells of our neighbourhood, that dogs are even better suited to the lives of our human ancestors. Back when we were a hunting and gathering society, the domestic dog thrived. They were born to wander, constantly discovering new things. With greater human complexity, dogs adapted but I don’t think they really changed. In a way, I think they help remind us of our explorational past.
Sadly, we humans have done a good job of forgetting. Even if our bodies and our minds long to get out and experience new things, the society we have created for ourselves inhibits these desires. Other things take precedence now and we forget to appreciate the world outside. We are also a lot more afraid.
One of the traits I admire most in Shiva is her lack of fear. She embraces novelty with her whole being. When we’ve taken her to new parks or new cities, she leaps up and down. She can’t wait to discover the source of all the new smells. Even when encountering the one thing that does scare her – deep water – she has still made far greater strides toward overcoming that fear than I have over any of mine. Shiva’s courage has brought her many rewards. Whether it’s tasting that funky-smelling new treat or learning how to run across the frighteningly high dog walk, she doesn’t let fear of the unknown stop her from trying. Nor does she seem bothered if she makes a mistake or looks silly.
She just gives it another go.
We humans have forgotten how to explore, and even how to try new things. We get settled in our routines and are reluctant to break away from them, even for a moment. Many of us are even too inhibited to try a new variety of fruit from the grocery store. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk.
That’s why this week I am issuing you all a challenge. I dare you all to try something new, something you have never done before. It can be anything, like sampling that crazy-looking dragon fruit for the first time, or going to that museum on the other side of town. It just has to be brand new to you. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t, but I encourage you to try.
I am going to participate as well. The “try 100 new things” item on my life list hasn’t been updated in a tragically long while. I need to get motivated to start discovering again as much as anyone. On next Tuesday, December 6th, I will share my new thing with you all and I’d love it if you’d also share what you did.
For some extra motivation, I am going to give away a copy of Jennifer Arnold’s Through a Dog’s Eyes via random draw of next week’s comments. So not only will you be expanding your horizons by trying something completely different, but you’ll also have a chance to win a pretty fantastic book that explores the world in which our dogs live.
Is it a deal?
Ready, set, go!