Words: John Worsey
Sometimes it feels like we live in stressful times. It’s a day-to-day thing. The way we work, the way we commute, the way we shop, the things to which we aspire – it can feel as if every hour holds a choice between finally relaxing for a moment, or ticking the next thing off an endless to-do list. Tomorrow will always be better. Just got to get through today…
There’s one thing that never fails to break that enchantment for me. I go for a walk with my dog, Max.
Unless it’s raining (or snowing – remember that?), we’ve usually followed the same route for his lunchtime walk for the past six years. Every day, he experiences it as if for the first time.
He’s excited, pulling at the lead, eager to see what he can sniff out. Walls we’ve passed hundreds of times offer up an abundance of up-to-the-minute olfactory communications from the other neighbourhood dogs.
He’s always happy to see other people who are out and about on the Southsea streets. Sometimes he insists we stop and wait for a complete stranger behind us to catch up, as they will surely want to say hello to him. He’s usually right.
We turn into Highland Road Cemetery and he’s off, tracking down the latest squirrel paths, and flinging fallen pine cones around with gleeful abandon.
It’s impossible to go on a walk with Max and not return home feeling in some way refreshed and re-set. It isn’t just his comedic antics with pinecones that bring a smile to my face. It is everything about the way he experiences the world – he’s always living in the here-and-now, experiencing what’s real and right in front of his face, focusing on whatever is interesting or fun, not worrying about what happened this morning or what might happen this afternoon. It’s as if being part of his experience hits a reset button in my head.
And there’s something else that never fails to cheer me up. It’s what Blanche DuBois called “the kindness of strangers.”
I want to say a big thank you to the unsung hero who leaves water bowls for dogs in the cemetery. We’ve never met you. We’ve never even seen you. But Max knows he can rely on you, so he always has a drink by the tap at lunchtime. Dogs do love their routines, after all.
You play an important part in his walks, even though we’ve never met. I love watching him, gratefully lapping up his refreshing drink. And I love your thoughtfulness in making sure there’s always something for all the local dogs to drink from.
It’s a small thing, but it matters, and in its own little way, it makes every day a little brighter. You’re one of the big, thoughtful hearts who make Southsea such a beautiful place to live. So, cheers to you! I hope you read this and know you make a difference, whoever you are.