Out come the dogs.
You can tell that it’s spring, and that we have not experienced formidable weather in quite some time when hoards of people – runners, walkers, cyclists, anyone and everyone who has been cooped up suddenly rushes to experience the great outdoors.
You can tell that it’s spring when the birds chirp earlier, the peepers are out, and baby animals start to appear from hedgerows, fields, and forest.
But another – rather big – way that you can tell that it’s spring? When all the dogs come out. This was especially noticeable as I took my bike out for a pedal Sunday afternoon, and was chased, barked at, and nearly eaten (ok maybe not quite), by no less than half a dozen furry canines. I don’t like dogs. Well, let me rephrase. I like dogs, I am certainly an animal lover, but I am also quite certainly not a fan of dogs. I don’t like them barking at me, jumping on me, biting at me, slobbering on me; I’m just not the social acquaintance that they are looking for. After all, I have to remember: they are just as excited to be getting outside as I am, and I cannot blame them for that. So I continue on my way – I don’t acknowledge them, change my gaze or my pace, and they will eventually give up.
With the exception of one. Samantha. The happy, chocolate lab whose house I can see across the big ‘ol field from my house. On occasion – usually on recovery runs – I do and out-and-back run on that road, the old dirt road, and I pass by Samantha’s house. And most every time, out she comes, favorite beat up old baseball in her mouth, looking for someone to give it a toss. She doesn’t bark, she doesn’t jump, invade, or attack. Every time I pass by and see her come out, I feel a bit of happiness and a bit of sadness at the same time. Why sad? Because clearly, she does not get the attention she needs. No one plays with her, takes her for a walk, or dotes upon her.
So when she comes out, looking as happy as can be, I gladly oblige to give the ball a toss. Or two. Or three. I do this for a short while, until I’ve cleared the area around her house, give it one more toss, and tell her “No, Samantha, no more for now, I have to keep going.” She never gives me a dejected look. She just heads back to her yard. When I make my turn and come into view of her house again, there she is, waiting, and the moment she spots me, the scene replays. Sometimes, I’ll even stop to throw the ball for her. It’s fun, she enjoys it, and I want to give her that moment of happiness (and for myself too, I suppose), while I am able.
Every time I part, I leave with a little more happiness inside. How something can come from so little, yet be so happy, reminds me that we all need to take a step back once in awhile, take a breath in, exhale, and relax. We get so caught up with things, superfluous things, we get too competitive with ourselves and with each other that we forget about those most important things – those things that are bigger than us all.
Every encounter with Samantha reminds me that there is something out there that has a much greater hand in what we do than what we ourselves ever will. Stop trying to control it, because you only limit yourself from what you are fully capable of. Enjoy your time out there. Life is both short, and the longest thing we will ever do.