Mt Lebanon Magazine

710 Washington Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Dogs and the Zen of Now

We use a dog walker from time to time. Rich  VanOverberg from Trusty Dog Walk is amazing—each dog gets a 30-minute walk and he does as many as 18 per day. I can only imagine how stellar his cardiovascular health is, given the ups and downs of Mt. Lebanon terrain. And, if those dogs are anything like mine, he must be basking in the constant doggy enthusiasm generated by the prospect of a walk.

I love that enthusiasm. When I make a move toward the leash or start to say the W word, it’s like our dog Reno has been shot out of a cannon. To say that he’s interested in going outside is a grand understatement: “OH BOY! We’re going to walk down the street again and sniff every single telephone pole? What could be better? This is my lucky day!”

This is accompanied by jumping in place, running back and forth, and spinning in circles. You’d think I’d never, ever taken him outside before.

In reality, we do this numerous times a day. After I retired, I was foolish enough to think about sleeping in occasionally, relaxing my former schedule and, for once, not seeing the sun rise. But, of course, when you have a dog, there’s no such thing as altering your schedule. Dogs’ bladders rule the household. Through time changes, cases of the flu, and blinding snowstorms, there we are, trudging down Old Farm Road. Sometimes one of us in a considerably better mood than the other.

Walking a dog certainly does keep you grounded. Nary a piece of trash escapes his notice; bonus points if it once contained food. He reacts to road kill, other dogs, and activity taking place in neighboring yards. Woe to the neighbor who dares put out his trash on our watch!

The immediacy of all this is often a refreshing change from my day’s agenda, with its lists, regrets, mulling, analysis, etc. Dogs don’t waste time holding grudges, thinking back on mistakes they’ve made, or planning past that next fire hydrant. Reno has long forgotten the time he nipped a little girl when he was young. He never thinks back over the time he rolled in a dead squirrel and had to stand on the deck waiting for an emergency bath. The unfortunate incident with the Pomeranian next door? No regrets.

Would that I could be so in the moment. The wonder of being alive that Reno lives by is regularly wasted on me. Too often I don’t notice the sun and the shadows, the lovely light in the late afternoon. I pass my time walking Sunset Hills without really seeing it. I should spend more time examining the manhole covers with Reno.

I envy our dog walker his constant exposure to his charges who know that this moment is what matters: this patch of grass, this bowl of food, this nap. Keep your nose to the ground. Look around you at all this interesting stuff. There’s no yesterday and no tomorrow; all the matters is the right-now.

If my cardiovascular health isn’t improved by this reminder, my soul sure is.


  1. Author’s gravatar

    Love this!

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