Time has a way of quietly moving forward. You don’t really notice its passage until you pause from your activities and take note of a reference point. It’s like when you go to beach and decide to take a dip in the ocean to cool off. You relax just past the breakers enjoying the day in the refreshing water and light breeze. It’s not until you gaze back at the beach after a while that you notice the gentle ocean current has taken you far from where you set up your beach camp.
This past week I looked back at the beach. I took a good look at my trusty canine companion, Hayley, and noticed some changes that I wasn’t totally aware of. Since I’m with her every single day it I failed to notice that her steps have been slowing and her brown and white muzzle has a bit more white than a few years ago. I still think she’s looking great for a ten year old dog, but there’s no denying that time is marching on and she is aging.
And to my dismay, I’m aging too. However, because the canine life span is so much shorter than ours it’s happening much more quickly to Hayley. She has always been a high energy, athletic dog. We spent our early days together jogging, hiking and playing fetch for hours. Although we would both like to do all those activities at our original pace and intensity, we now have some limitations – and that’s ok.
It can be hard to face the fact that we can’t do all the things that we want or used to do (with our dogs and ourselves), but that is no reason to get us down. There are still plenty of pleasures in life that are available to us that can be just as, if not more, rewarding than all the fun things we used to do. To get the most out of them we need to appreciate what we have now, and resist the urge to make comparisons with the past.
Dogs have a great ability to live in the present moment, with no concern of the past. They never look back in despair over all the activities they can no longer do. Instead, they revel in what they can experience right here and now.
Dog behavior great Ian Dunbar always talks about how he would drive his aging rescue dog Claude (who has recently passed away) to a new field or wooded trail and slowly follow Claude as he slowly sniffed his way around. They would walk for thirty minutes or more but would travel less than ten square feet. Claude took his time savoring every sniff and had a great time.
Time is moving whether we notice it or not. It’s propelling us forward softly and consistently always and forever. Don’t be saddened by this realization – embrace it. Now-a-days Hayley and I spend more time walking than running; more time sniffing than hiking; and much more time relaxing than we do in athletics. And we’re both enjoying the ride together.