I took Merlin on a walk yesterday afternoon. We haven’t gotten out much since this winter has been so awful. I feel bad, because the other dogs get to go with the dog walker several times a week when I’m at work, but he’s not quite ready to do that yet. I didn’t feel as though I had the energy to do it, but the guilt drove me on… the sunshine and temperature in the 40’s didn’t hurt. I took him by himself, to give us some time alone together.
Merlin’s six years old, but he’s very much a puppy in a lot of ways. He doesn’t pull on the leash at all, but he doesn’t always walk in a straight line either. I only almost tripped over him once this time. He kept looking back a me, getting all wriggly and giving me a big grin. He gets worried easily when we get close to strangers, but he doesn’t shy away from them the way he did the first few times I took him on a walk.
We had a great time with snow balls – I’d toss them into a snowbank and he’d dive right in, burying his face as he hunted for the ball that mysteriously disappeared. He would have done that all day if he could.
For some reason, as we were walking along and I was looking at him a little ahead of me, I had a sudden flash of memory from when I was nine or ten years old. We were living in Paris at the time, and a friend of mine, Caroline, invited me to her family’s farm in the French countryside. I can’t remember how long we were there; it might have been a day or a weekend. I remember cats and goats, but the most vivid memory is of their dogs (surprise).
There were herding dogs, possibly border collies or something very much like them. I remember going for a walk through the woods, the dogs forging on ahead, off leash, and thinking that this was the life I wanted… being out in nature, living with animals.
I have much of that life. Not a farm, but my own space with the dogs, and plenty of places to go hiking with them. I don’t know why walking with Merlin triggered that memory… it wasn’t winter when I was at that farm, and he doesn’t look all that much like those dogs. Whatever the reason, it’s a nice reminder that sometimes life does work out the way you hope.