What I Learned Walking the Dog.

As a parent, I am always looking for ways to teach my kids about life.  Sometimes lessons are obvious (don’t lick the electric socket please) and some can be buried under metaphor or, as it happens, on walks with the dog.

Who knew walking around the development with my dog was so chock full of life lessons (especially the importance of checking for holes in the plastic bag before I leave)?  The other night, while the dog and I were on our evening stroll around the development, I started thinking more about how our walks could parallel life (these are the thoughts that have my wife looking at me like I’m an idiot).

Most of us are familiar with them.  Holding tight.  Stopping to sniff the roses.  Picking up after ourselves and there is no place like home.  But life, like the dog, will sometimes throw you a curve and these lessons can be found to take on new meanings.

Hold Tight.  Life, when you least expect it, has a way of pulling you in directions much like an 80lbs dog hellbent on running down the rabbit she saw from across the street.  If you aren’t careful and don’t have a good grip, the next thing you know you’re being drug in to the neighbors yard trying not to fall flat on your face.  Life can take you places you don’t want to go.  If you aren’t ready for it, your wife is covering the cuts on your knees with Neosporin (so to speak). Life will put you in to situations that are best to be avoided but the good news is, they can be, so long as you hold tight.

Stop and Sniff the Roses.  Yeah, we all know this one, but if you happen to be walking a dog, you’ll be stopping to sniff the grass, mailboxes, street signs, trashcans, twigs and anything else that passes over your canine’s snout.  Dogs are never that much in a hurry to stop and sniff things out. Why should we be?  Sure life can speed by us like Usain Bolt in a 100meter dash, but that shouldn’t mean we don’t stop once in a while.  There are lots of things to see, do, be apart of even if those things can sometimes smell a little bit like trash or the remnants of the last dog that walked by, it’s worth it to stop and sniff. And we should do it to figure out which elements to avoid and which ones really do smell like the roses.

Pick Up After Yourself.  Unless you would like to draw the ire of your neighbors, it is advisable to bring a bag on your walk (again let me stress the importance of making sure there are no holes in the bottom of the bag).  You need to pick up after your dog just like you need to pick up after yourself (metaphorically, otherwise get yourself some help).  You should, at the risk of finding yourself on an episode of Hoarders, make sure you pick up the clutter, but occasionally life leaves a turd on the lawn for you to pick up too.  Life isn’t always pretty (and sometimes smells).  It is unapologetic about leaving a mess too.  In the face of the steamy pile life left you, we don’t shirk the responsibility of making sure we remember to pick up after ourselves.

There is No Place Like Home.  This one is pretty much as it seems.  After a long walk around the development, my dog is always excited to walk back up our driveway and get to our front door and the comforts (and doggy treats) of home.  After time away, whether it be vacation, work, or a trip to the mall, there is something about coming home.  Back to the arms of your loved ones.  Back to the comfort and safety your home provides.  This is something that can be taken for granted until you see the dog, tail wagging with excitement, ready to burst through the front door and get back to her family and the place we call home.

I’m trying to teach my kids about life.  Sometimes what is needed to be taught is as obvious as knowing giving the cat a haircut is not such a good idea.  Sometimes what needs to be said is not so obvious or has been overlooked until, in this instance, the dog brings it to light for me.  I want to teach my kids life isn’t always great.  Life can sometimes take you places that are not so nice.  Present to you things that aren’t so rosy and leave you a mess to clean up afterward.  I also want to let them know, that no matter what life throws at them, they always can find comfort and safety at home.  And when I think they understand all of that, I’ll teach them something else…just as soon as I get back with the dog.


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