The present we’re talking about is the beautiful, sometimes painful, always arriving, present moment. How often recently have you been there? If you’re like me, then not much. At this time of year especially, we are consumed by other busy thoughts and distractions. We also tend to reflect on the year that has just gone and look ahead to the new one.
So, why am I banging on about this? Isn’t this a dog blog? That’s just it — you can distract yourself all you want with your future planning and lists, but there is one thing guaranteed to remind you of the present: your dog.
Dogs Don’t Get ‘Busy’
Dogs don’t understand your list of chores, your tap tap tapping on your keyboard, and they certainly don’t understand Christmas! They roll with the natural rhythms — sun up and sun down, hunger, thirst, tiredness, the breath. And they are quite literally often staring you in the face, asking you to do the same.
In our last post, we brought you some ideas about how to keep your dog occupied whilst working from home. But it’s about more than keeping them occupied, it’s about being with them in the present.
Dogs Do Understand Stress
Recently, my life has been a little chaotic. I had a big move back to Scotland from Europe, my desi dog Charlie in tow, and started a new job in the process. Since arriving back, I’ve moved house twice, started a university degree course, and along with all the other ‘stuff’ that modern life entails, it sometimes feels overwhelming. I often get stressed, putting pressure on myself because the house needs cleaning, or because I’m not cooking perfect dinners.
This stress often affects Charlie. We’re living together day in day out and she feels my emotions. In the last few weeks though, she has been my medicine. All it takes is one glance at her face or hearing her breath as she snoozes beside me, and I can’t help but let it all go. Then it’s simply a case of resting beside her, feeling her abdomen rise and fall, or getting her toys out for a frenzied play after dinner.
The walks are a godsend and there is no getting away with less than two long walks a day, despite the sun setting around 2.30-3pm at the moment. Charlie is gregarious and is always seeking interactions with other creatures, be those humans, dogs, sheep or rabbits. To see her whole body move and shake with delight as she sniffs her way to sheer joy, is everything.
Take A Long Pawwwws!
As I write this, it’s 11.30am in the Shetland islands, which lies at a latitude of 60 degrees north. It’s positively gloomy outside, and feels like it’s getting dark already. We’re approaching the winter solstice, which is on 21st December: the longest night. Winter is absolutely upon us, and the darkness is reaching its peak.
It can be gruelling, living with so much darkness. And yet, I can feel such a magnificent power at this time of year. When we reach that darkest point, it’s almost like taking a huge pause. We go to the deepest recesses of our body and soul, feel everything inside, so that we can meet the light once more with renewed energy.
There’s Always Light, Even In A Dark Moment
Charlie was particularly delighted this morning when I discovered that the embers from the fire were still lit, and so I resurrected the fire. Again, this reminded me that it’s important to be at rest, so that the glowing embers can spring back to life given the right conditions. I don’t normally light the fire during the day, but again Charlie’s reaction told me to just roll with it and enjoy!
As I described earlier, we get so caught up in our frantic ways of living, we forget to pay attention to the natural rhythms. Your dog may not understand Christmas but they sure do understand the winter solstice and nature as a whole. So, take cues from your dog, above all when they are asking you to take a break from lists and screens. Ultimately, they know better, and have an innate sense of how to exist in the present. Keep those home fires burning, even at a low ebb, so that we can meet the light when it returns. We have to be ready for those 3 walks a day come Spring!