Finn, Forest and Foul Weather

One thing about owning a dog: you find yourself outdoors a lot, no matter what the weather.

This morning it is dumping down rain, a steady, ice-cold drizzle just this side of sleet. In the normal course, you would not catch me dead outside (or live, for that matter). Slight of frame and prone to goosebumps at the merest hint of a draft, I usually stay huddled in my warm home rather than risk the damp November chill. But now I have a furry brown friend named Finn who requires at least three daily outings, so like it or not, I head outside to brave the cold and wet.

Much to my surprise, I like it. I like it a lot. 

Finn, though, doesn’t have the same appreciation for the rain that I do, at least not at first. He will sit down inside the doorframe of the garage, resplendent in his nifty red gore-tex coat*, and look up at me as if to say: “you want me to go out in that? Are you kidding?”

“Look, buddy,” I say aloud, “we don’t have indoor plumbing for dogs in this house, so yes, I do expect you to go out in that.” At this point I will pick him up (all 15 pounds), pop open my industrial-size golf umbrella and march with him to the wooded section of our yard where we’ll have some shelter from the downpour.  Here, I can put his four feet down on the trail and he is happy to explore. Me, too, it turns out.

A lawyer by training and a writer by heart, I spend long hours molded to an office chair with my eyes fixed on a computer screen. I sit motionless too long, don’t get enough fresh air and certainly need to move and stretch my body more often. Finn shows me how its done. (He does a fantastic downward dog!) Outside on the trail, he catches sight of a cotton-tailed rabbit and gives chase at high-speed. On the other end of the leash, I take off, too, hobbling Finn with my less-than-speedy sprinting. Finn can fly, literally bound through the air, springloaded, like a deer. Finn ducks under the lowest branches of the pine trees, and I follow, crouched down and waddling fast, a duck on a mission. Finn stops to smell the pine needles that carpet the ground beneath our paws, er, feet. I close my eyes and notice how soft and forgiving they feel. I breathe deeply of the air, noticing how different the rain makes everything smell. I lift my chin, slide my shoulders back, lift my rib cage, breathe deeply. Forest yoga with my dog.  A welcome retreat from my former, dogless life.

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