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Sophie’s idea of the best play of all is to run up to another dog and get them to chase her.She has some concern about really big dogs but mostly if it is a dog and she can entice it to chase her she is a happy dog.

Sophie loves to run. When she was younger she liked to ride down the hill to our mail box so she could get to “run” all the way back. On our quiet road with one of us driving and one watching to make sure she was doing OK, she would race the car for close to a mile attaining speeds of 12 to 15 miles an hour even on the up hill sections of the road. The road is quite steep with a big hairpin turn. She always had to slow down as she entered the turn, her body almost parallel to the ground in order to maintain as much speed as possible going into the turn so that at the apex of the turn she can push her beautiful body up and then press forward in a full bore sprint toward home.

She still likes to race around although it is harder for her now. We are alike, she and I. I don’t go as fast as used to either. That’s OK though. We see more than we did when we were young. When you live you life at breakneck speed you don’t see what is going by all that well.

Usually when you think about slowing down it is so you can do something like stop and smell the roses. No one really talks the other side of slowing down, about being able to see what is racing past you. Roes sit still and demand you attention with their beauty and their fragrance. The things that race past while we race forward are silent; they are stealthy in their race against us. You may never see them and only later know they are gone because you realize the time has passed and you did not see them at all. Had you seen them, even like the fleeting rose of summer, you would have remembered.

I learned this from a hound, you see. Before the old house burned it was our habit to walk up the steep hill behind our house to gain the vantage from above; 360 degrees taking in the flat sage OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbrush with the lava fields it borders, protected game areas, the city and the the trains that still pass through recalling the glory days of trains. We can see the freeways that have replaced trains. We can see the mountains near and far.

The plateau was home to a large resident herd of deer. Everywhere there were deer trails. You could see where the deer had bedded down in the grass. Most trips we would see them grazing. As one they would swing their heads toward us judging if we were worth moving for. We always eased our way in the opposite direction and then watched as they turned back to their browsing. During this silent dance of respect for distance, my hound is running around in circles, nose to the ground, smelling where the deer have been. Never have I seen her lift her nose off the ground to notice that the deer are nearly on top of her.

I learned from a dog that you can be blind to what is close at hand. You can pass it by and never know that you did. Like the deer, the elusive other can race past you assuming that if it runs fast enough you won’t see it. What it doesn’t know is that you, like our Sophie, are racing around so fast you could not see it even if it strolled by. Its protection from you is from you. It is your inability to see what is racing by as you race ahead that keeps them safe.

I cannot help but wonder what I have missed in my life, what walked quietly past while I raced ahead with my eyes on some elusive goal that was all consuming. I cannot help but wonder what I would have known had I lifted my head.

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This story is dedicated to our friend who with loving hands helps  relieve the pain of the body and the mind for those with cancer as they leave this earthly plain.