That Slow Dog

Miles, over the course of a long walk, contemplates his human's use of a Belly reference in this blog's headline; the human, meanwhile, uses the morning constitutional to craft an argument that Tanya Donelly is woefully underappreciated.
Miles, over the course of a long walk, contemplates his human’s questionable use of a Belly reference in this blog’s headline; the human, meanwhile, uses the morning constitutional to craft an argument that Tanya Donelly is woefully underappreciated as both a guitarist and songwriter.

I have to admit being initially frustrated by the languorous pace of walks with Miles since diabetes set in. But I have come to look forward to our leisurely circles of the nearby park, and not just because they offer a refreshing change of pace after getting dragged around the neighborhood by the huskies, who treat every outing as if it’s the final leg of the Iditarod and they’re in second place by a length.

A well-fed tree in Denver's Mamie Doud Eisenhower Park.
A well-fed tree in Denver’s Mamie Doud Eisenhower Park.

A slow, mellow ramble is an opportunity to let the soul exhale, to ponder personal challenges in quietude, to absorb your surroundings, or to just be. On my daily jaunts with Miles, I’ve savored the dewy morning air, confronted various episodes of writer’s block, watched squirrels devour crab apples with delicate efficiency, and bounced  thoughtlessly from tree to tree based on scents perceptible only to a canine.

Writers of, ahem, all walks have sung the praises of peregrination. “I have walked myself into my best thoughts,” claimed Kierkegaard, “and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”

“All walking is discovery,” noted the journalist and author Hal Borland. “On foot we take the time to see things whole.”

'This little squirrel I used to be...'
Crab apples provide squirrels with both food and firepower.

Novelists as diverse as Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Edward Abbey and J.K. Rowling have cited the saunter as an effective way to work through ideas. The great Williams of the Romantic age, Blake and Wordsworth, believed a stroll through the outer world could reveal a path to one’s deepest interior.

The transcendentalists, of course, were big on perambulation. “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow,” wrote Henry David Thoreau.

Last year, The New York Times published a piece on literary walks that is worth checking out for the delightfully droll illustration of Gertrude Stein alone, but also features seven other writers and the strolls that inspired their work. The benefits of a regular promenade are obviously not confined to writers; mounting scientific research confirms Charles Dickens’ notion “walk and be happy; walk and be healthy.”

Perhaps it’s no wonder that so many writers—from E.L. Doctorow to E.B. White—are also dog lovers. Both species, it seems, are predisposed to a good walk.

The shadow knows that Miles still needs to shed some pounds.
The shadow knows that Miles still needs to shed some pounds.
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3 thoughts on “That Slow Dog

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  1. We’ve speculated on how Miles feels about this. He still gets excited to go for a walk, and he is usually pretty strong out of the gates, but he lacks Reese’s instinct to go full bore in spite of his age; Miles seems to enjoy the meandering pace.

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  2. A walk with a camera or a dog does the soul good, and I found gentle pedalling very conducive to thought. Poor Miles, I wonder how he feels about his slow gait. It made me think of a man at the marina who has been very helpful to me, but who has reluctantly had to give up his boat due to heart problems. His mind is still active, but his body is now set on slow.

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