Thursday, February 4, 2010

Not Alone

It's a nice day. The sun is shining, it's a little windy but nothing unmanageable, and I finished class about six minutes after ten in the morning. It seemed like the perfect time to head over to one of our island's parks.

My good dog Marge and I got ourselves in the car and arrived at our destination soon enough. Upon arriving, we headed straight up a steep hill to make our way into the wooded trails. I figured we'd walk those first and then walk back to the car using the paved route along the stream and lake.

It started out well enough, Marge's body hauling me on my hands and knees (yes, really) up the slippery and snowy hill and her nose expertly leading us into the forest. We walked on like that for awhile, totally alone, the everyday sights and sounds of the rest of the world blocked by massive tree trunks and muted by the crackle of leaves under our feet.

We made our way into a clearing - it's a no-go during the summer, when picnickers dominate the scene. But, for now, it was quiet. Marge reluctantly posed on a picnic table for me and then continued letting her scent receptors lead her (and me) around.

She found a smelly spot and threw herself to the floor. Usually, I don't grant her this pleasure, but because it didn't look like anything that would stick to her, I allowed her to do as she wanted. Besides, I told myself, this outing was supposed to be all about her having fun and relaxing.

Just minutes after her back scratch in the leaves, loud bangs rang out through the air. I assume they were from a nearby construction site. Marge went in to instant panic.

Damn it. That's all I could think. Here goes the afternoon.

I tried my hardest to not get frustrated or upset, and she seemed to bounce back pretty quickly - at least more quickly than our episode with the hockey rink in another park a few weeks ago. Fortunately, a small dog went by moments after, and this seemed to reassure Marge a little bit. I threw treats into the leaves for her to nose and dig her way through to them. Although she was still frightened, she was willing to play this little game.

She was also willing to jump over this log, which I believe is the same downed tree she leapt over last January. I didn't rediscover its location until now.

I wasn't sure what to do - she was doing better, but there were still some construction noises resonating through the air. I began to walk back to my car, thinking that I'd maybe walk her in the quiet area of the park across the street and then head home.

By dumb luck, Marge stopped to sniff something along the road as we walked, and I turned my body around. I saw something that both swelled my heart and sank it at the same time. My mind now totally immersed and locked on to this sight, I abruptly turned 180 degrees and walked briskly, straight back into the park that I had just exited.

I knew Marge might react and I'd have to reassure her. I knew we might hear the dreaded and faraway sounds yet again. But, I simply could not help myself. This is not an every day sight around here.

I don't know how many of my readers know of my long background with horses. They dominated my life for an extended period of time. I did not leave them by choice; to explain beyond that, I would basically have to demonize several people. I lost my heart horse to colic in 2007 and things have never been the same since then.

I think of them often. This morning, in fact, I found myself in the midst of a daydream centered on them, my mind far away from the college class in which I was sitting at the time. I recently heard about the deaths of two horses that I previously knew (and knew well), but no longer have contact with. It's an odd situation to be in from an emotional standpoint.

I trailed the park rangers and their horses for a good ten minutes, at least. The sound of their snorts was something I used to hear on a weekly basis; their horsey aroma was something so familiar to me. They were the picture of peace, walking slowly through the busy park with their tails swishing and hooves clopping. I kept my distance, out of respect for them and safety for myself, but Marge was giving me no signs that they were bothering her. Other dogs barked, some lunged with owners grabbing them by their collars. Marge just walked.

We were now on the main path of the park. We were with everyone else with no woods to hide in. I was in my own little world, thinking back to the experiences of my past that I long for all too often. My dog was not scared. Instead, she gazed up at me with soft eyes, looking for treats, which she did receive.

I'm not a terribly religious person, but I felt like someone or something was with me as I walked with them. My whole day had been turned around; what I thought would wind up being unconsciously classified as a "bad" outing in my mind actually became quite good. My horse -- and all the horses of my past -- were with me. And my dog, who walked next to me, was at complete peace. I think they were with her, too. It may sound crazy, but I really love to think of it that way. I love to know that my old man Taco is still ensuring that I'm not alone.

I see him on sunny days, recalling the sweltering hot and endless days I spent at the stable for so many summers. I see him in the snow, thinking silently of how such weather would make him kick up his heels and run around like a young colt. I see him in the rain, in the forest, in every beautiful thing I see. But, today, I truly saw him as those two painted horses walked ahead of me. I saw him and I saw all the others, too.

I followed them until I couldn't follow them anymore - they turned into another section of the park, and I knew better than to take Marge there. We turned around, flanking a white-faced Golden Retriever nearly the whole way back. Marge was truly in her element. Her body language screamed enthusiasm and courage. At that point, I knew we were ready to leave.

My mind remained in a blur as I drove away from the park. I could think of nothing except the horses I've loved and lost, wishing for a way to be with them.

I'm happy I got a glimpse of these lovely creatures. They made my day, and from the looks of it, Marge's too. I can only hope that they will one day be in my life again.


Cyndi and Stumpy February 4, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

Man, I am so with you! I dream, all the time, of living with horses again (and a pack of dogs). And yeah, I know the ones from my past (and not just the horses) walk with me each day. How could they not? We carry them in our hearts and souls.

Frankie Furter and Ernie February 4, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

Hey Marge, You had a grrrreat roll in the leaves. Isn't that the bestest fun ever?? I am soooo very much glad that you had a super time in the park!! Go Girrrl!!!

Kari in Alaska February 4, 2010 at 6:36 PM  

I too am a huge horse person but just can't devote the time right now. Looks like the walk was a good one for the most part

houndstooth February 4, 2010 at 7:39 PM  

I grew up with horses, but I don't have any now. The last two that were left my dad sold last year because his Parkinson's doesn't allow him to take care of them and he and my stepmom wanted to travel without worrying about them. It is a lot of work! I'm glad you got to have a semi close encounter today!

RILEY AND STAR MY MALTESEKIDS February 4, 2010 at 8:01 PM  

Oh Sam,

Your about to make us cry. Don't worry, I'm sure you will see them again someday when your mommy can take you back to the park.

Or, you can come visit us, the Stock Show is going on right now in Ft. Worth where you can see lots of horses!

Great pictures ans story and we luv ya pal. See ya soon,

Riley and Star.

Dog_geek February 4, 2010 at 8:25 PM  

It sounds like a magical walk. I used to ride, too, but even though we live on some acerage with a three-stall barn, and share a property line with a large horse farm, I don't think I'll be getting back into horses anytime soon. Unless I win the lottery.

Two French Bulldogs February 4, 2010 at 8:43 PM  

Very cute. Now that is a nice lounge chair. BOL
Benny & Lily

Cinnamon and Mint February 4, 2010 at 10:18 PM  

Reading your post, I felt like I was there with you. What a beautiful and magical account of your walk.

Cinnamon's Mum

kissa-bull February 4, 2010 at 11:20 PM  

wow you have quite a way with words
that was absolutely bewootiful and shad at the same time
thank for sharing
pibble sugars
the houston pittie pack

Life With Dogs February 4, 2010 at 11:48 PM  

Lovely post - one of my favorites. Well written and heartfelt, and it's like a summary of your relationship with Marge. Started out tough, and is moving along beautifully...

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog February 5, 2010 at 1:02 AM  

Mom and I agree with Life With Dogs...

Khwite an excellent post on so many levels!

Thanks fur sharing it - I'm sure it took a lot fur woo and a lot from woo to do it!


Kathy Mocharnuk February 5, 2010 at 2:18 AM  

You talking about your horse just brought tears to my eyes. My horse Snips was my best friend, a lot of times it felt like he was my only friend during some very rough times. I miss him so much- All my feelings about him came back reading your post. Hope you find a way soon to be around horses again soon.

Glad the whole walk turned around so dramatically.

Martha February 5, 2010 at 4:32 AM  

That sounded like an amazing walk from so many perspectives.
We were happy to see Marge rolling in the leaves clearly happy.
We were also pleased to see that she seems to have recovered quickly from the bangs. What we notice with Martha is that she recovers more quickly now from situations that freak her out.
That is progress!
We were touched reading about your experience with the horses and your own personal story.
Lets hope this is the start of a healing process for you.
Quite a walk.

Sara February 5, 2010 at 6:10 AM  

What a magical walk through the woods. Marge clearly picked up on some peaceful tones and allowed you to live in the moment.

Jules February 5, 2010 at 8:55 AM  

It is amazing how a day can turn around. I am glad you and Marge had a good walk and I am sure you will have horses in your life again.

KB February 5, 2010 at 9:39 AM  

It sounds like your sweet Marge truly bounced back today, and that's wonderful. Walking with soft eyes next to, accepting treats, just happy to be with you. Perhaps it was your attitude that make it different this time, an attitude that the whole walk wasn't lost. But, it could have been something inside Marge... we'll never know.

I'm so sorry about your sweet Taco. It's truly the case, for me, that I feel like my beloved but departed dogs are with me at times, especially when I'm out in nature. In that way, I understand how you felt.

But, it is hard to have a whole aspect of your life go away (i.e., horses in general). I've lost several aspects of my life to my spine problems, and some of those losses stay raw. I find other things that I love but... well, I think that you understand.

AC February 5, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

Beautiful. I think animals touch a certain part of us that no human can. It seems like a blessing that we can only communicate to our creatures with few words. They force us to get in touch with our bodies and energy (spirit?) and I think this can wake us up-perhaps help us feel our friends (like your Taco), even when they're gone.

I'm so glad your walk ended as it did.

The Army of Four February 5, 2010 at 12:34 PM  

It sounds like BOTH of you had a wonderful day! Maybe Marge is starting to trust more and that's why she was able to bounce back? Whatever the case, treasure your day!
Tail wags,

Anna the GSD February 5, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

What a beautiful post about a beautiful walk! I've never seen a horse in dog (person), but they sound beautiful!!

SissySees February 5, 2010 at 3:08 PM  

What a beautiful post! I too had horses in my life -another life- but I'm so glad you and Marge both had a great walk in the park!

Diana February 5, 2010 at 5:33 PM  

Im not religious either but after my springer spaniel died , he was 13 and I had gotten him when my son was 1yr.old, I felt that sometimes he was lying on the bed a night. It was a weird calming feeling. I dont get that feeling anymore. Hmmm, I dont know why. Diana

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart February 5, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

I wish you lived here. There are so many horses who need someone to ride them. All the fun, none of the expense.

I personally don't ride, but I know several neighbors who do ... rather than have their own, they "help" with other's horses.

Gus, Louie and Callie February 6, 2010 at 10:47 AM  

Oh what a great outing.. Mom had a horse when she was growing up too. She lived on a dairy farm and it was her job to bring the cows in out of the pasture for milking. She loved those days.. Sadly her horse also passed away....

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Bijou February 6, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

Wow Marge you were brave. Those are some big ass horseys!


Lorenza February 6, 2010 at 10:38 PM  

Sure you had a great walkie.
Marge rolling on the leaves and the great memories of your horses.
Take care
Kisses and hugs

tula monstah February 7, 2010 at 10:14 AM  

Unexpected surprizes can be wonderful! thanks for the walkies, we were trailin' ya the whole time:)


Sue February 7, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

I do hope you get a special horse in your life again. Till then, it's a wonderful dream to work toward.

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