Ginger in the woods

A couple of weeks ago, we had company. It was company of the canine sort, and she was a delightful visitor.

Within seconds of arriving at our house, she claimed a spot on the floor beside the loveseat, and so that was where we laid her dog bed. From there, she had a clear view of the door, the living room, the dining room, the back door, and the stairs.

She likes knowing what’s going on, that dog. If one of us were to walk into the family room, she would wander over to see what we were doing. If we appeared to be settled, she would settle there too. If not, she would return to her dog bed and wait us out. Saving her energy, I suppose, until the pesky humans stopped walking all over the house and picked one place to be.

We like having doggy visitors. The kids enjoy having companions who have as much energy as they do, and I enjoy having a warm, fuzzy lump by my side as I work at the computer while the kids are at school. We like the walks, too, despite the necessity for picking up. And we like having visitors who are so fun to play with for a bit and then go away again before we get tired of taking care of them.

Ginger, though, is a doggy visitor in a category entirely her own. She is silent almost all the time. She doesn’t bark, she doesn’t howl, she barely says a word at all. In fact, most of the time she merely sits and observes from the comfort of her dog bed, those eyes wide and wise and calmly knowing.

At least, until you take out her leash.

That leash inspired a flash of action. Tail starts wagging, bum starts wiggling, and she literally bounces up into the air a little, so excited is she about the idea of going outside for a stroll. Once outside, she likes to sniff and sniff and sniff. Everything smells interesting to Ginger. The leaf that fell off the tree. The rock beside the curb. The weedy thing growing at the edge of the grass. The lamp post. The stop sign’s pole. The fire hydrant, of course. All of it gets a thorough sniff.

Unlike our crazy dog friend Waldo who bounds ahead in excitement and drags us along for the ride, Ginger never pulls. She explores in her calm, quiet way, usually a step or two or five behind us as we walk. Sometimes, she stops dead and we find that it is us who are suddenly pulled up short as she decides to dig in her heels for a moment to better smell something or other. Even squirrels fail to elicit much more than a quiet look, sort of a “yes, I see you, silly squirrel. And no, I am not going to bother chasing you. Run along now. I’ve got things to sniff.”

It quickly became evident that this lovely, quiet dog has a deep love for the woods. As deep a love as mine, I would wager. The woods set her tail to wagging and her nose to sniffing like nothing else. As soon as we would enter the woods, her whole being would both perk up and relax, all at the same time. She looked happy in the woods. I can relate. I am always happy in the woods. And I come out the other side feeling calm and centered and joyful, every single time.

I like the woods.

I like bringing things home from the woods and placing them in our nature bowl. A bit of bladder campion. A sprig of wild camomile flowers. A leaf, newly red with the snap of cold weather.

Ginger approved of everything I brought home, giving it a good sniff before wandering off to find the next thing to smell.

I like walking in the woods with Ginger. I like walking in the woods with Waldo, too, though it is a completely different experience. Waldo leaps and pulls and strains to reach whatever he happens to notice. He bites branches. He barks at squirrels. He wraps the leash around trees constantly. He is oh so very excited to be in the woods, and oh so very excited to be on a walk, and oh so very excited just to be, I think, for he is that sort of dog. Mind you, Ginger is also 12 years old and Waldo isn’t even 2 yet.

Ginger is calm. Ginger is quiet. Ginger takes her time and doesn’t jump or pull or wrap her leash around trees.

At least, not unless she sees a chipmunk. Chipmunks, apparently, are her calmness kryptonite. The very hint of a chipmunk sends her into a frenzy of jumping and pulling and straining to catch that speedy little thing that just went racing across the rocks. Chipmunks turn Ginger into a puppy again.

Oh, what joy can be found in the woods!


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