Head for the Hills!
by Robert David Bretz
Three dogs sleep at my feet tonight. Content and exhausted, they think nothing of the coming workweek and the pressures it will bring. They have no concern for the leaves piling up in the yard or painting projects that will soon elude me if I do not attend to them before winter has us firmly in its clutches. They do not judge me for having made it through only half of my weekend to-do list.
As always, they are planted firmly in the moment. I hope they will remember a weekend well spent, a weekend of baths, play, nail trimming, treats, car rides, naps and more play. Food and walks aside, they require little else in order to achieve bliss. As I watch them sleep I am filled with wonder, even now, after a lifetime shared with many dogs. My respect for them is immense. They want nothing but good, and each day that I spend with them assures me that I will have another chance to grow.
The inevitable questions loom surrounding the thousand follower mark. What does it mean? What will we do to mark the occasion? I wanted to take time away from the usual noise in my head to consider it: so I followed the example of my canine companions, closed the computer for the weekend, and immersed myself in all things dog. We lived this weekend, and lived well.
We were quiet, and listened to the sounds of fall - leaves brushing the street as the wind swept them by, birds and squirrels scurrying to beat the first blanket of snow while they build their food stores. There was beautiful light on the mountains, and cold, biting air to remind us that they days will soon be shorter, darker. We paused to take in the new smells of a changing season - and I marveled at the first whiff of dried leaves while the dogs sat beside me, noses raised to the air, each breeze carrying a thousand messages straight to their snouts for consideration.
I could not help but come back to the second question, and wondered what I should do next. One of the projects I have considered for a few months is a giant blogroll. It would have been great to finish it in time for the occasion, but that was not to be. Of course, there is always the award route - but trying to achieve distribution among hundreds of folks is just about impossible. I look forward to next summer, when we hope to sponsor a few events along the east coast and get on the road with the dogs to meet the throngs of amazing dog lovers who have made this year truly memorable for us.
All in time. This weekend was a revelation. I am grateful beyond words to the dogs who have shared my home, the kind people who have shared our experiences, the bloggers who have offered constant examples of dog greatness, my patient wife who has pushed aside her own needs to give me time to keep up with this crazy venture. How could I possibly repay so much good will in a giant, sweeping gesture?
I could never. And that brings me squarely back to the essence of Life With Dogs. I wanted to make a little blog about what a privilege it is to live with these remarkable creatures. I thought it would be fun for friends and family to keep up with us as we lived out our days in the scenic mountains of Vermont. I thought I might crack a joke or two. I hoped that those who landed here would come to understand that if I could ever be half as good as any dog I owned, then I would be on the right track. I wanted people to share their love of dogs, to laugh, to find a smile along the way. And on some level, I wanted to give back to the dogs. If the past year has taught me anything, it is that I will never give back more than a fraction of what I get from the moments I share with them, but that I am a better person for always trying.
The follower count at the top of your screen changes none of that. It does give me the hope that as dog lovers congregate, we are able to collectively do greater good for the animals we love. Our fan page was started as a place to do what there is not time or space for here - and will probably emerge as a rescue-centric effort in the long term. It is the very least I can do, and will hopefully be the first of many small acts that show my appreciation for these loving, joyous beings.
So again, what next? The first thing I will do is give a little more time to the stars of the show this week. No post tomorrow. :-p I do consider the possibility of going back to a three day schedule for winter in order to free up time for writing. I'm not sure if I can keep myself away for four days a week, so we'll see how that works out. For this week, it feels like a good plan. I'll use the time saved to cherish my family, remember the great people who have shared laughs with us this year, and to be certain that I never forget exactly what life with dogs means to me.
The first question was always a simple one, and clarity helped to flesh out my response as we drank in every last bit happiness the weekend had to offer. We were not busy, stressed, hurried, worried. We just were. In this peaceful quiet my answer emerged, and came as little surprise.
One thousand followers means more dogs, more dog lovers, and more goodness. My heartfelt thanks to those who have taken part, and to those who may never even know - our dogs!
P.S. Even I must appreciate the irony in the fact that there have been more funny experiences in the last week than I could have hoped for, just as I decided to take a small break. Wordless Wednesday will continue, and Thursday promises to be great fun for those who find their way back...