I love animals and consider them my family. I share with them a loving and safe home while taking care of all of their physical, social and emotional needs. I have been a pet sitter for almost 15 years too, taking care of other people’s animals as if they are my own. So imagine my surprise when the tables turned and I was taken care of by a couple of dogs I walk during the weekdays. These 2 large dogs are not that great on leash. They are constantly pulling and they move so quick it is sometimes hard to handle them. I never have any of my employees walk them because it can be a difficult job and in order to have any control I need to stay completely in the present. If I drift off thinking of other things, which I do all the time, they are all over the place. When I stay in the moment it makes a huge difference and they are much better behaved. This is great practice for me to maintain being mindful for 20 minutes at a time and I work hard to keep focused. I like to look at this not so great walking behavior they have as a gift to me because staying present can be struggle. The 3 times or so a week I see them I really have to be “in the zone” or I will be dragged all over the neighborhood. Over the holidays I came down with what I thought was a very bad cold (but turned out to be pneumonia). I was sick all weekend and come Monday I was out of breath if I moved too quickly. I was dreading the visit but I had no one else to go for me. I decided if it was too much I would make sure they got out for a few minutes to do what they needed to do and I would let the client what I had done. I got to the house and instead of the craziness that usually goes on when they greet me at the door they were much better behaved and easier to handle. We left the house and I was trying, but not succeeding in staying in the moment because I was so sick and stressed about getting around the big neighborhood loop we normally walk. When we left the yard they decided to stop, sniff and poke along instead of the frantic race around the block they normally are trying to do and they did this for the entire walk! I could not believe it but by halfway through I realized they had dialed it way back for me. Although it took a much longer time to get around the block that day I managed to do it without incident because they were looking out for me. I cannot explain how grateful I was to them for taking caring of me because there is no doubt that is exactly what they did. I was back to work a week or so after I recovered and they are back to sprinting around our route while I work at being mindful but when I really needed help they were there. That’s what friends are for, right?
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