Y

ears ago, when Bailee, my springer spaniel, and Shilo, a yellow Lab, were still alive, we took evening walks together in the woods near my home in Colbert. They always anxiously awaited my return from a long day's work at my veterinary hospital. The memory is as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

When I turn into the driveway, there they are, my two canine hunters, tails wagging as if to say, "It's about time you got home!" They know me; they know I have trouble saying no to their passion to explore the woods together. When I step from the car, they greet me as if I've been gone forever. They have a well-choreographed welcoming I call their Happy Dance, a dance of boundless enthusiasm, an excitement I'm sure all you dog lovers have experienced with your own pets when returning home from your busy day. Their contagious energy begins to melt away the fatigue that has followed me home. It's a foregone conclusion: Their walk with me has already been decided by this dance of theirs, a dance that will follow us into the woods.

I change into my hiking clothes, and we are off. When we reach a familiar vista, I pause to watch my two companions explore their surroundings. I notice the graceful rhythm of their movements, so light and unencumbered as they curl so effortlessly through the twists and turns of our hiking trail. Their sharp senses notice everything around them: smells, movements, sounds... nothing escapes their attention. They seem so alive, so happy... so present! I'm suddenly struck by the thought that my four-legged companions are completely caught up in the present. And I become seduced by their dance. I want what they have — to be captured by the moment.

I'm reluctant to admit to myself that I'm often consumed with thoughts that pull me away from the present, thoughts that draw me back into my hectic day, ruminating over all that has gone on before, wondering what I could have done differently — mindless ramblings of a busy mind. Oh, I've tried to change, to be more like my two pets who lived in the World of Now. I tried tai chi, joined a "mindfulness" group and practiced meditating. Anything to calm my busy mind. Nothing worked until I finally surrendered to the lessons on living in the moment that my two dogs were trying to teach me all along.

Bob Slack is a retired veterinarian living in Spokane. He currently works with people struggling with addiction.

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