A walk with a dog in Telluride during the summer is very different than a walk with a dog in Dallas during the summer. First, you can walk your dogs in Telluride in the summer months. Such an event can be very challenging if not impossible in Dallas during the summer months due to the extreme temperatures. Second, a walk in Telluride can include wide open spaces allowing the dogs to run or sniff to their heart’s content. And third, the dogs being walked in Telluride are at a level 1 on a scale of 1-5 for anxiety. (And coincidentally, so are their owners.)
The summer months in Dallas are unforgiving, particularly, for the dogs. The coolest part of the day is without sunlight. If the ambient temperature doesn’t spoil the fun the hot pavement surely will. The dogs are forced to stay indoors not allowing them to express their genetic desires and needs on a daily basis. Drastically reduced running, sniffing, and socializing is what we can expect. Holed up behind the walls, each dog is expected to contain their anxiety and energy while we wait for tolerable temperatures to return. As a result our dogs become more excitable at the suggestion of a wanted or unwanted guest, increasing the frustration of their master or mistress. (Or guardian or friend, if you prefer.)
The development of the land in our Dallas neighborhoods leaves little space left to roam in nature and the space we claim is often overpopulated with dogs and people that don’t get out often enough or for long enough. These under stimulated creatures collide into one another with an unhealthy nervousness that often leads to unpleasant encounters that only help to foster another unpleasant encounter. In Telluride the dogs have a natural amount of space that allows their minds to understand that flight is an option. It can be observed that maintaining flight as an option allows a dog the time and space that is needed to gather important information about the canine in their line of sight so that they can make decisions about their own behavior that will aid in keeping them safe.
When your walk leads you past the streams and into town and the distance between each dog closes in you immediately notice the calmness and blasé attitude of each and every dog. You feel elated as you’re able to take your mind off of the dog you’re handling as well as every dog seated at a table or waiting at a corner and instead you can concentrate on the location of your next coffee or the hat in the store window that has caught your attention. All of the training you put in is paying off as your dog is willing to listen and respond as you ask them to down/stay while you carefully study the skillfully crafted jewelry or simply stand on the sidewalk staring at the scenery as you decide which direction to move next. You can observe the same sense of peace in the human counterparts of these canines. Our dog’s contentment affects ours and vice versa. This harmony is rarely seen in a city that depends on cars to get us from one demanded location to another with little to no exercise in between unless you include breaking into a sweat from the 10 yard walk to your destination’s air-conditioned interior from your parking space.
As I observed the dogs on our recent trip to Telluride I was saddened for the dogs of Dallas or any other hostile city that allows for little space or comfortable air as I observed the dogs of Telluride stride along at a similar pace to one another achieved by a state of zen made possible through the cool air and open space that fosters long and frequent walking, numerous and varied social encounters and joyful bonding with their people. As you attempt to meet the demands of your schedule this summer don’t forget your dogs waiting for you at home in the hopes of getting out to run at full speed, sniff the ground where the squirrels ran and to say hello to a friend of the same species. Take the opportunity to get them out at the crack of dawn. Give them enough time to enter the zone of doggie zen. Do it daily. Recognize their devotion to you and repay them in full.