Walking the dog

As mentioned the other day, I spent a week over the new year dog-sitting for a zen colleague. Apart from the ‘change is as good as a rest’ aspect of this, it is always a pleasure to have the extended company of animals; there was no shortage of them when I grew up, even if I have rarely had the opportunity to replicate that in my recent life.

We went out to walk three times a day, and the habit I got into was going up to the 27th St open space first thing, and walking around the block before going to bed; in the middle of the day we went further afield, and I tried to vary it each day. What I noticed was that my charge was always ready to go, always keen and eager to explore wherever it is we ended up, always moving briskly forward. One person we interacted with in Dolores Park commented on how smiley she was; she always gave the impression of being delighted to be out in the world. Even if she spent the intervening time napping or sleeping, she was always ready for the next adventure.

At Tassajara, when I was living there and we had dogs, there was a running joke that the dogs were always sitting zazen (as two of them were herding dogs, they never really relaxed unless we were all safely coralled in the zendo); my recent companion certainly taught me a lesson in staying present and focused, and saying yes to everything, as a good zen student learns to do.

One afternoon we made it to Glen Canyon. Mount Davidson is in the background.


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