A long time ago, an old girlfriend and I went out for a walk with her dog. She tugged on him every time he stopped. I don’t think either of them was very happy.
Recently, while out walking my dog, Nemo, a friend remarked that I wasn’t being very alpha. Nemo had veered off course, leading me to something that had caught his eye (nose).
This is a deliberate policy on my part. I figure Nemo spends most of the day fitting himself around our time and our schedules, so when we go for a walk, he gets to be boss and decide what we do. He can sniff for as long as he wants, and choose the route.
I used to make the most of this “dead time” by phoning friends. When I rang, they would ask me if I was out walking the dog. It became a running joke.
Nemo always knows what’s going on, though. My wife’s old flatmate, Alex said he realized this when he came home one day in a funk and Nemo came over and put his head on Alex’s lap. On the rare occasion that my wife and I argue, he’ll come over and nudge me, like a little kid telling his parents to stop fighting.
With Nemo being so intuitive, I figured he’d know I’m not engaged if I’m on the phone, much in the way I can tell if someone is typing when I talk to them on the phone. So now I don’t do that. I single task. When I’m out with Nemo, I’m out sharing time with him, enjoying the evening light or the cooling of the day. My wife and I take him together on what we call “family walks.” It’s transformed something that had become a bit of a chore into a daily meditation and precious time shared with a friend.