10 things I’ve learned from Pickle

The rain has stopped, the sun has come out and I’ve been able to take a couple of lovely long walks up on the mountain paths with Pickle this week. And while I was walking today I realised just how much my lovely dog has already taught me, in the few months we’ve been together.

(1) A walk is more than just exercise

We go for a walk pretty much every day, and I diligently mark it on my score sheet as my daily exercise. But Pickle has taught me that a walk is about far more than exercise alone. For her, it’s a chance to explore the world – to follow new scents, to dig new holes and experience the world from a fresh perspective. And for me it’s an opportunity to get some fresh air, take a break from work and the house, and indulge my senses in the beautiful scenery. There’s always something new to see – ripened medronhas, pig tracks, a flock of birds hiding in the bushes – and I often stop and watch the sun playing over the mountains, or the cloud hanging low in the valleys.

(2) Explore new pathways

Pickle is forever darting off into the undergrowth, exploring every pathway between the trees with excitement at what she might find. Normally it’s nothing but that doesn’t deter her! And I follow in her footsteps, walking off the beaten track to see what new surprises we might find. Last week we found half a dozen different types of fungus; today we walked along an overgrown path that ended at a dead end, but climbing over the fallen trees and hacking through the brambles with a stick was great fun, even if we did have to turn around and come back in the end.

(3) Short term rewards get you moving

Pickle is easily distracted – by wild a whiff of pig, the sound of a distant dog barking, the breeze in the trees – and my way of getting her back on track is to throw her tennis ball, or offer a treat. It might be a short term reward, compared to the fun she’d have tracking down the distraction, but she loves it and it’s always enough for us to continue with our walk. And I’m much the same – if I’m trying to get some work done but find I’m becoming distracted I do something rewarding for a short time – make a cuppa, sit in the sun, sing a song – and find I’m then able to get back to what I should be doing.

(4) Embrace the zoomies

Until I had a dog I never knew what the “zoomies” was – but every now and then Pickle has a sudden unexpected burst of energy and zaps around the place like a maniac! I quickly learned that there was nothing I could do to stop her and I just needed to let her get it out of her system. As for me, I’m not so prone to energy bursts but if I’m suddenly inspired to do something (like write this blog post!) I know to let inspiration take me and see what results.

(5) Forgive and move on

Pickle is generally very well-behaved but she has trashed a couple of favourite things of mine and I felt really angry at the time. But I quickly learned that she didn’t do it maliciously or to hurt me and I need to forgive her and move on (even if I won’t ever quite forget that my Wizard of Oz Winged Monkey soft toy used to have two arms…!). Important lesson for us all, I think.

(6) If something piques  your curiosity, take all the time you need

This afternoon we were nearly back at the house when Pickle decided that a certain clump of trees needed a lot more investigation. Usually I shout and whistle and eventually drag her away so we can get home. But today I thought: “It’s a beautiful day, let her take her time.” She spent ten minutes sniffing and pawing at whatever had caught her interest, and I spent ten minutes sitting on the bench at the top of the village admiring the view. So next time I find myself reading articles or watching videos on some random topic that’s aroused my interest, I’ll remember this lesson and take all the time I want, rather than admonishing myself for “wasting time”.

(7) Sometimes it’s good to do nothing at all

On the flip side, Pickle spent the entire morning lying on the grass in the sun, doing absolutely nothing while I was hard at working proofreading a booklet on Forex trading …. Good for her! I think we all need to slow down, stop and enjoy life once in a while, and doing nothing is also a great way to refresh the soul or get our creative juices flowing.

(8) Everyone is a potential new friend

How many times do we meet someone for the first time and make instant judgements about them? Pickle has no such filter. To her, everyone she meets is a potential new friend, and remains that way until they do something to upset her (which hasn’t happened yet).

How lovely must it be to be like a dog and assume everyone is a good person, unless they prove otherwise?

(9) Out of sight is never out of mind

As a relatively new dog owner I’ve had my fair share of panicky moments when Pickle has strayed too far for me to see her. But you know what? She always comes back. Even when she’s following the trail of a wild pig, or is captivated by a hole in the mud that may or may not contain something good to eat, she remembers where I am and where home is, and always comes back. And that’s the same for me and my family. I might be 1000 miles away from everyone I love, but they are never out of my mind, and I’m sure that’s the same for them.

(10) All you need is love, food and a cosy bed

A dog’s life is a simple life. Love, food and a cosy bed, and Pickle is happy. What a lovely life to aspire to!

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