Once, during our morning history study session, he turned to me and said, "Yours is not the voice I want to hear so early in the day. Could you please try to sound less peppy?"
Several years later, when the two of them visited me in Massachusetts where I was a grad student and they were expecting their first child, we went on a walk to Paradise Pond on the Smith College campus. When we were halfway through he turned to me and said, "Is this a race? I thought you said today would be relaxing."
By then he'd begun his career in law and was cursed to spend his days with fast-talkers and fast-walkers, both of whom were exhausting to him.
I took what he said to heart. Over twenty years have passed since that day, but even now I still have to remind myself when I walk that it's not a race.
When Zoe was first recovering from the amputation, she could not go slowly. She zoomed ahead, then collapsed. It was horrible to watch her exhaust herself like this, but she was determined to walk as far and long as we always had.
"That back leg is a pogo stick now," our local vet explained. "I don't think she can slow down now. You might just have to speed up."
But one thing I had always loved so much about walking with Zoe was how we would vary our paces together. One minute we'd be near-running in excitement to catch up with other dogs, then we'd be sauntering. We'd be zipping past the mosquito-laden puddles of late spring and then we'd stop, spellbound, to admire the trillium. Plus, she was great on the lead when I asked her to heel--one of the few things she did obediently, without challenging me in her haughty I'm the Queen way. We have to cross a bridge that ices over when we walk on the trail beyond my house, and I was worried that we'd not be able to do that any more on the lead. I wasn't sure how we'd manage it this winter.
Contrary to expectations, about a month after the surgery, Zoe learned how to modulate her pace. I think what she missed was not just the ease of a gentle stroll side by side, but the chance to smell everything on her path.
Nice walk. Slow walk. I notice a lot more these days. The paw prints of other dogs. Birds and squirrels and cloud formations and smells. Branches gnawed by beavers. Someone's lost hat. Thank you feet. Thank you paws. It's so nice not to rush.
|Once we cross this bridge, I can take Zoe off the lead||; Photo by Tara Freeman|
|Photo by Tara Freeman|