I don’t have a dog.
I used to have a dog growing up, though. Her name was Missy and she was a Keeshound (medium sized fluff ball with a curled up tail). When I was younger I would take dear Missy for walks.
It was just me and her. Walking along. She really liked it.
Girl dogs do enjoy sniffing things, but they don’t have to sniff EVERYTHING. That’s what’s great about walking a girl dog.
Those days of walking Missy were before the dawn of pocket-sized cell phones and PDAs with Tetris. (oh, Tetris, how I love you!)
In this golden age of face-to-face communication, we would just walk along in blissful silence unless we happened upon other people walking and enjoying the sunshine. Missy was happy, I was happy.
I spent the time thinking about things, of course. I’m not sure what my 13 year old brain was concerned with – perhaps I thought a lot about my next great pair of stirrup pants. (thanks Mom!) But the point is: I spent time with the dog, focused on doggie-type things and not rushing off to the next great thing.
Yesterday driving into work, there was a man who was barely walking his dog. He was moving very slowly while his dog walked circles around him. The guy was very focused on a cell phone conversation that he absolutely had to have RIGHT there. And I thought, “For Pete’s sake – is nothing sacred any more? Not even walking your dog?”
What’s more, yesterday was a windy, cold blustery day. There have been times where I’ve called my husband while walking from the office to the car and he’s always said, “Where in the world are you? I can barely hear you – it’s like a wind tunnel!” So this gentleman walking his dog, who couldn’t wait 15 minutes to have a phone conversation, probably wasn’t having a very intelligible phone conversation anyway. What’s the point?
I see the cell phone taking precedence over lots of things, not just dog walking. So many simple joys, like taking children to the park, are dominated by a need to talk to someone else, somewhere else, via cell phone. Several times, during time spent with groups of friends or in meetings at work, people have spent a good 20 minutes making a phone call to talk to someone else. You can’t send a clearer message to the person who took the time to be with you face-to-face than taking another call. And I get the occasional important phone call. And I get answering a call to tell the person that you are busy and if it’s not an emergency, telling them that you’ll call them back later.
I must confess, I do check my BlackBerry for messages. I mostly do this when my husband is out of town and I am just checking to see if he sent me details about a trip or if he landed somewhere safely. I know I need to put the Crackberry down, though. I’m working on it.
I guess a goal that I have for myself this year (aside from working out more, eating less, blah blah blah) is to be more present where I am: to take in the details of the world around me and to listen better to the people I am with and be more engaged in conversations in person.
And hey, if you want, I’ll walk your dog and pay attention to it. I might even dig up an old pair of stirrup pants for the occasion…