Share This Musing
Musing: Old Dog Lesson
This isn’t the Monday Musing I planned. In fact, I had something else already written and ready to go. But as I stood outside on a frosty Christmas morning, I realized I needed to explain a lesson I learned from an old dog instead.
The original musing
My original post focused on my annual planning process, since I’m in the midst of goal setting for 2023. It quoted three books I’ve recently read: Quit: The Power of Knowing When To Walk Away by Annie Duke; Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman; and The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll.
The gist of my post was to schedule what is truly important, not just what is productive.
All I needed to do was hit publish.
A cold morning
Like much of the rest of the U.S. and Canada, we’ve had some quite frigid weather the last few days. When I woke up Saturday morning, it was -2º F, so the positive 11º temperature Christmas morning seemed almost balmy.
Our eldest dog, Frankie, goes out to the yard first. He’s lived with us for eleven years, and was probably two or three when we adopted him, so he certainly qualifies as elderly.
One of those “perks” of age is a bladder that needs more frequent attention. He appreciates the ability to take care of matters privately while the younger dogs sleep.
Another consequence of age is the time it takes our joints and muscles to be ready for the day. Typically, Frankie is efficient in his early yard time, often going out and coming back inside within only a few minutes.
As I stood outside with him on Christmas morning, though, a scent of a rabbit who had passed earlier caught his attention. He wandered around the yard sniffing as I shivered and waited. He examined the fence, peered through the cracks at the forest beyond, and circled the perimeter back toward the house. Thinking he was ready to go inside for the warmth, I headed to the door.
Except he wasn’t ready. He sat in the frosty grass, raised his snout high in the air, and inhaled deep. Did he catch the scent of deer in the trees? Perhaps a black bear rustling in its den? An owl shifting in its nest?
I had no idea, but I was cold and wanted to rush inside. When I went to retrieve him, he turned his head to me. I could just see his brown eyes in the gloom of the pre-dawn light.
His request was simple.
What’s the rush?
At that moment, in the peace and quiet of a Christmas morning, I realized how standing in that yard with an old dog was the most important thing I could be doing.
How many more sunrises will he and I share? I hope many and point to his lack of health issues for comfort, but memento mori floated through my brain. We can’t make time—we can only take time. At that moment, he wanted me to stand with him and enjoy our time.
And so, I placed my hand on his head, rubbed his ears, and waited by his side.
My original post was going to talk about focusing on what is truly important with intentionality. We too often work to be productive, when often the best use of our time is anything but.
As an example, I highlighted our twice-daily family walks. It’s partially about exercise and getting the dogs’ energy burned off, but it’s mostly about connection time. No ear buds or telephones are used. Instead, we simply talk to each other. We jokingly refer to it as solving the world’s problems because the topics range but are mostly the mundane parts of life.
Nothing is more important than that connection. It is my top priority in my daily calendar, and everything else gets scheduled around it. It’s an intentional use of time.
Embrace the moments
But Frankie reminded me of something else. Every so often, those great moments happen when you least expect them—unscheduled and unplanned. Standing in a frozen yard with my hand resting on an old dog’s head was the best thing I could do. We watched the sun peek over the horizon.
Amazon Affiliate links used in this article pay me a small commission on purchases but have no impact on your price. The books are widely available in bookstores, so feel free to purchase from your favorite retailer.
Enjoyed The Story? How About A Novel?
On The Website This Week
Spectacular Vernacular Word of the Week: Did you know those mangled lyrics you misheard are called mondegreens?
Last chance to take this month’s survey on being a morning or evening person. The results will be published next month. While you wait, you can see what my readers thought about fruitcake in last month’s survey results.
Gratuitous Dog Photo: Frankie Suave
The subject of today’s Monday Musing, Frankie Suave, in his usual pose supervising my writing time.
Until Next Monday
Embrace those important moments and don’t let them slip by.
See you next Monday in 2023!
Subscribe to the Monday Musings
Receive a weekly email containing the complete Monday Musing—random observations on life or a short story. Subscribers receive the complete musing in their email box each week along with links to other items I share on my website plus a gratuitous dog photo (because who doesn't love pets).
The email is absolutely FREE and is guaranteed by my promise to subscribers: I will never sell or share your email address. I will not flood your inbox with unwanted email. You can unsubscribe at any time with no questions asked and never hear from me again.
Just enter your email address below and get the fun started.