Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

No single picture captures Lee, but this comes close: covered with mud, about to launch himself down a trail. He could also solo 5.7.
Posted by Hello

The Dog

I used to have a dog. A yellow labrador.

My ex-wife was a dog person. I didn't have a dog, so she issued me one. His name was Lee.

Lee was 18 months old when he came to live with us. He had spent the previous 12 months being ignored on a dog run. He had two conflicting desires: social contact and freedom to run.

Mostly, he wanted to run.

His luck was in. He was moving to rural New Hampshire, where dogs can live free or die. Sure, there are leash laws in towns, and a dog that runs deer is liable to be shot, but apart from those few limitations a dog can enjoy a pretty unfettered life on the hiking trails, in the untracked forest or in and out of the waterways.

Since we hiked and adventured together for 11 years, his story is too long for one quick tale.

Dogs provide a great excuse to play outside. We need excuses to play outside as adults. Perhaps the dog constitutes a lame excuse, but his needs mattered to my wife. It wasn't like I was trying to sneak off with my human buddies. The dog had to go hiking or kayaking. It was a matter of his mental and physical health. So my mental and physical health got to ride along for free.

Dogs can be inconvenient. I certainly see a lot more wildlife now that I no longer travel with a predator. He wasn't an active predator, but the wildlife didn't know that. But I really do miss the excuse to go ramble around the woods and the river. His enjoyment added to mine. Few humans can match that candid joy in simply exploring. We keep worrying about whether we have a good reason to be there.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Why? Because it's there?

Why do we go mountain climbing, rapid-running, back-country skiing, open-water paddling, sailing small boats on big water and all such foolishness?

Because it's safer than driving.