Monday, May 3, 2010

Paws Make Me Pause

By Vicky DeCoster

In the past two years, I’ve learned a lot from my chocolate Labrador Retriever. I’ve learned that it’s okay to take a nap on the couch in the warm sun on a cold winter’s day and that there’s nothing wrong with drooling when you smell delicious food cooking in the oven. I’ve learned that it’s okay to protect your house with every ounce of your being and to run around in circles while chasing nothing at all. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with getting really excited when someone says, “Do you want to go bye-bye in the car?” or “Do you want your belly scratched?” I’ve also learned that it’s perfectly normal to sleep just light enough so if you hear a potato chip bag crinkling six miles away, you’re able to wake up with your eyes wide open and gallop into the same room with the person holding the chip bag in exactly two seconds.

Sammi, short for Samantha, has taught me many lessons, but the most important, is the one she teaches me when we go on a walk together. I have always been that annoying person who creates a to-do list every day and then derives great pleasure in checking off every item from the list, including activities that involve “supposed” relaxation. I work my way through the weights at the gym like a soldier on a mission and I flip through magazines like I’ve just graduated at the top of my speed reading class.

To be honest, I used to try to rush through my walks with Sammi too. I’d constantly check my watch during our walks because after all, there was always the next item to check off my list. But Sammi lives her life with a different mindset. Each walk is a new reason to explore the world beneath her paws, around fire hydrants, and in the park where we conclude our walk. Although she doesn’t stop to sniff the flowers, she does stop to sniff everything else in her path.

At first, I used to become annoyed with her dawdling - now I look at it as an excuse to stop and enjoy the world around me - to breathe in the fresh air, watch the sun gently disappear beyond the horizon, and reflect on my day. As Sammi bounds through the weeds, she seems to almost smile. The little things bring her joy like chasing a tiny frog, sticking her nose down a dark hole, or chewing on a blade of grass. And when she sees someone new she’d like to meet—dog or otherwise—she is thrilled beyond thrilled.

There is a great quote by John De Paola that says, “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” My beautiful dog with her gentle spirit has taught me that in the circle of life, making time for me is the most precious gift I can give my own spirit.

Award-winning humor writer Vicky DeCoster is the author of Husbands, Hot Flashes, and All That Hullabaloo! and The Wacky World of Womanhood. Vicky’s been published in over 60 magazines, books, and on several web sites. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two children where she is working on her third book of humorous essays. Visit her at

SAMMI’s photograph taken by: Vicky's daughter, Claire, (an aspiring photographer).

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