Walks with a Dog

I walked a dog for a friend.

I chose the path, I set the pace.

It was my walk,

My way.

The dog wandered left and right,

Straining at the leash that I controlled.

I let it stop to sniff but only for as long as I chose,

A firm tug let it know who was in charge.

As we walked I restrained it, I redirected it, I resisted it,

Feeling frustration when it did not as I willed.

A constant tension in the lead - that which connected it to me.

I didn’t enjoy the walk.

We do the same the next day,

Same same, but different;

The lead slack, neither of us pulling.

Together we stroll, this way and that,

Up paths, down alleys,

Places I’d not been.

I go when he goes and stop when he stops.

I immerse myself in his world, wondering what he perceives:

What does he hear?

What does he see?

What scent might that be?

What is it to be Dog?

Into the woods, off the path, through the trees.

Him out front, me behind, leash loose.

Running fast, breathing hard, sweating.

Ducking boughs, dodging trunks, whipping branches.

Slow down, nose down, squirrel?

Ears up, what’s he hear?



Through a stream, feet wet, who cares?

Right here, right now, I’m with him,

And tomorrow they’ll be dry.

A weather eye round other dogs,

A short lead near the road,

Aside from those he does as his will,

Only for trespass and danger do I impose.

For it falls not to me to decide for a dog,

What it is for a dog to be Dog.

He finds a dog turd and starts sniffing,

At which I turn up my nose.

He then starts licking and eating,

At which I turn over my stomach.

And as I’m about to pull him away I remind myself:

It falls not to me to decide for a dog,

What it is for a dog to be Dog.

My disgust is for me, only me, not for he,

He smells nourishment, he smells food,

Not the foul, warning stench that my nose would smell.

So I quell those irrelevant emotions I was about to impose.

For it is he as a dog, that knows as a dog,

What it is for a dog to be Dog.

For an hour we walk and we run,

And we sit and we look and we listen.

He smells for the smelling,

I smell coz I’m sweating,

And for the rhyme his coat does glisten.

The woods are his oyster,

He, the treasure that is the shining pearl,

I, the marvelling skin diver, swimming his bountiful sea.

When we get home we are hot, happy, tired, firm friends,

Having both very much enjoyed the walk.

When you next spend time with a dog,

Or a child, parent, partner or friend,

Will it be your time, your way?

Tension in the connection?

Restraining, redirecting, resisting?

Or will you immerse yourself in their world,

Wondering what they perceive,

Only imposing for trespass or danger?

Will you enjoy the time?

Will they?