Monday, November 19, 2012


This last week I have been puppy sitting for a friend who is away visiting family.  Rugby, a 12 week old Goldendoodle, is mellow, intelligent, playful and mostly housebroken.  Fortunately he and Rebel hit it off right away and have spent countless hours chasing, jumping, attacking and gnawing on one another until they collapse into an exhausted sleep.  Fargo, on the other hand, shows his curmudgeonly old dog-self with looks of disdain and growlish pronouncements regarding the behavior of the younger generation.
            On the first couple of mornings I attempted walking the three doglins together for our tour of the neighborhood.  Rugby was alternately attentive to biting his leach (taking himself for a  walk?), biting the others’ leashes (taking them for a walk?), chasing leaves as they crossed his path (that path looks faster and funner!) and following new fragrances wherever his busy nose guided him. (This is a great walk)
Fargo, Rugby, Rebel (from left to right)
            Keeping the three leashes untangled as they crossed back and forth and as I attempted to maintain a forward motion gave the same feelings I had when attempting to “run” a marionette. An observer commented how busy I looked from his vantage point at a stoplight.
            On succeeding mornings I paired two dogs for a walk, then had a special one-on-one walk with the third who endured being home alone.  This was much easier and we all had some special time—even I had the opportunity to see, hear and smell the attractions of another amazing, abnormally warm, fall day.
            Walking all three dogs together is a kind of multi-tasking that gets the job done.  Sure there were some moments of tangled hilarity, but frustrated irritation rose quickly to the surface with the pup biting the oldest dog who insisted on putting the punctuation on everyone else’s pee-mail.
            Walking two was easier but had me being pulled in several directions at once.  Walking one was easiest of all—the doglin had sufficient time to take care of business and I had sufficient space and energy to notice and enjoy my surroundings.
            So much of my reading in the last several years has drawn my attention to the discipline of mindfulness—really taking the time to do one thing and that one thing only.  Our culture promotes multi-tasking at nearly every level.  With our varied smart phones, I-pads, tablets and kindles we can get whatever we want 24/7.  Shop, read, talk, write, watch as we go from task to task, not so much consecutively, but simultaneously.
            As I slowly adjust to this new rhythm of retirement/elder care, I wonder if I had tried in the past to be more mindful with each task as it came about—rather than letting myself be pulled in many directions at once—if I would have been better able to hang in there for the long haul of ministry.  When I hear other folks much older and longer in the trench than I who cannot imagine quitting or slowing down, my wonderings get even stronger. 
            But here I am on this day—dawn has just come—and I know that it is another day to attempt finding and living  into the delightful joy that the doglins know in this ruff and ready world as they experience it in simple ways--a long walk with lovely sights and smells, a good simple meal, a long nap in a sunny place, outdoor play with friends and—say did you just see that squirrel cross the lawn?  
"Hey, puppysitter, how 'bout letting me in for another treat?"

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