When you live with a dog, you have to take walks.
After we adopted Louie, our Westie mix, we read that taking a dog for a walk is good for his self-esteem. He marks his territory all along the way, and the farther you go, the larger his territory grows. (We've heard Westies referred to as "little Napoleons." How fitting.)
The person on the other end of the leash also benefits from the walk, and not just from the exercise.
Actually, Louie tends to dawdle, so if I really want to get a walking workout, I have to leave him at home.
Dawdling, however, offers a different kind of benefit, a gift, actually, although one requiring patience to open.
On a recent walk, Louie stopped by a hedge down the street, oh so carefully sniffing the lower leaves and individual blades of surrounding grass. I had a choice: tug him along to get a move on, or let him follow his nose. On that day, I chose the nose.
Standing still, I found my attention drawn to a frantic flutter of wings rising from deep within the hedge.
At first, I spotted two, then three feathered heads peeking from the hedge top: a trio of sparrows. I looked closer, and saw more birds within. Six, then seven sparrows, blending in with the brown network of twigs. More flew in from overhead, perching on the sturdy stems. I kept counting, eventually reaching 14 sparrows, all clustering in a space the size of a clothes hamper.
Thanks, Lou, for giving me time to notice.
A walk down a different block offered another wildlife sighting a few days later.
Keeping an eye on Louie requires me to look down a lot, which is why the low flash of purple caught my eye.
Poised on the curb, in all its plastic prehistoric glory, was a stegosaurus. A small one.
He (I don't know why, but he just seemed like a "he") looked like he had spent eons out in the wild, with dry strands of mown grass embedded in his armor.
I hope his owner looks down, too, and finds him.
I'll have to check if he's there on our next walk.