Today I had a day off and spent it enjoying my dog. On this day we didn’t practice our fancy agility moves, we didn’t work on our obedience skills, we learned no new tricks – we just took a nice relaxing walk in the woods; my little guy and me off on a little adventure of our very own. We walked through the woods and along a stream; the leaves were just starting to fall. We stopped and sat together on a little hillside, breathed in the fresh air and watched the water as it flowed past. It was simple and it was heaven.
As we walked, Nevar moved ahead, but never far away. At about 15 feet, he would spin around and come back to me, a bright and happy smile on his face. I imagine that his smile was because of his sheer joy of being out in a place he likes, doing something he enjoys (which, for Nevar includes just about anywhere and anything!) with someone he loves. I know that those were the reasons I was smiling!
I have always used a long-line when Nevar and I hike. I use it for safety, ‘just in case’. But I find that we don’t need that long-line anymore. There really is no need for it. I don’t have to use it as a means to control him. As it turns out, our relationship is the only leash we now need. A silent, invisible leash, that binds us to one another.
That invisible leash is the result of time well spent, training, playing, practicing, and even just being together on a sunny day. It was an investment in his future and in mine too, and that investment is now paying dividends for both of us. Despite his disability Nevar (who is deaf) is able to enjoy things that many other dogs can’t, and this time spent with him gives me such joy.
There is no shortcut to building a relationship. You must commit to it, time, energy, love and a lot of yourself. Training is a big part of that. We could not enjoy the things we do without training. On our hike, Nevar came back to me more times than I was able to keep track of. That was the auto check-in that I taught him. That little trick is an absolute necessity for us because we can’t communicate if he isn’t looking at me.
You can have a better relationship, a invisible leash, with your dog. What are you willing to invest? Will you teach him a new trick? Visit a new park? Play a new game? Try a new sport? Maybe just sit together on a hillside on a glorious afternoon? The time you spend with your dog is a tribute to him. Every second tells him he is special, that he is worth it. Be generous with the time you spend with your dog. You will find the dividends far greater than the initial investment. It is the best leash you will ever buy.
“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.”