My eyes opened to see two sets of brown eyes peering expectantly at me. This is a daily routine. The dogs wait with great anticipation for their morning walk on the trails.  I hear my mind kick into high gear, as usual, reviewing the list of things I’d like to get done today, and today’s list is pretty long.

And as is routine (98% of the time), I get up and get dressed, scrutinized by the dogs.  They know exactly what clothes I wear when we head for the trails.  A pair of jeans means no walk, ratty sweats and thick socks mean TRAIL WALK - WOO HOO!

And so off for my morning dose of dog therapy I went. They led by example, enjoying every new scent, expressing joy for the outing (even though it’s  daily routine) as though it was an unexpected gift.  And my therapy session began.
I noticed the quiet of the air, the whiteness of the snow, the crunching sound of my boots as I broke through areas where the snow has softened and then hardened with the fluctuating temperatures of day and night. I looked for evidence of what they had their noses glued to, seeing only tracks where they smelt a past presence. The cold air rushed in as I unzipped my jacket to cool off my rapidly heating body and the freshness was delicious.  I became present to the stillness within me, uncluttered by thoughts.

Dog Therapy for chronic illnessBut I lost it for a moment, and a million thoughts about my day to day life flooded in.  What would I accomplish today? What do I need from the grocery store? Will I get two new work projects this week? How is my friend feeling? Should I move furniture around again? When should I schedule the next conference call? How did that last  meeting really go? And on, and on, and on…

A sudden tangle of leashes jerked me back into the present moment. And I noticed that I had left the dog therapy session, giving it up for thoughts that were mostly about things past and future, about things that didn’t even existed in the moment. Those few minutes of losing presence had felt so busy.

And so we resumed the session, navigating over fallen trees and rock piles, breathing heavily from our exertion, enjoying the quiet of the woods in the morning and the company of each other.

Life is rich, no matter the length of the lists or the circumstances of my life. My daily dog therapy allows me to start each day present to this.  I’m practicing bringing the quiet of those sessions into my daily life.  I have not yet mastered it, but I understand that it takes practice to reach mastery.  So grateful for my teachers, Ben and Thandi.