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SPIRIT MATTERS: Life lessons from a dog abundant

Jerrilyn Zavada
Jerrilyn Zavada

Now that I have some extra time on my hands, I am getting to know the quirks of those I live with on a deeper level.

It’s quiet around the house during the day, and I like it that way.

I’m not one for watching television or listening to music too often. My two main sources of entertainment are reading or surfing the internet.

When it is quiet, you learn more. Your senses are keener and you notice more than when you are busy rushing from one task to another.

One afternoon this week, after I got back from running a few errands in Ottawa and going through my mail, the dog told me he needed to go outside.

I rarely tell the dog “no” when he says he needs to go outside, unless it is his third or fourth request in the middle of the night.

When I let him back in, I asked him if he was ready for supper. It was 2 p.m. Of course, he said yes. He’s always ready for supper. (Which is why I am expecting a lecture from the veterinarian when I take him for his annual vaccinations and weigh-in this week.)

So I gave him his half-cup of food and made sure his bowl of water was full and went into the living room and lay on the couch.

All I could hear in those few moments was the sound of my dog chewing his food. As I listened closely, I could hear the nuances of him picking through his kibble, before he moved on to wash it down with his water.

It was like listening to a symphony.

The dog has lived with me long enough – more than four years now – that I am pretty familiar with his language. I know what most barks mean, and when he shakes his body, I know he wants to go outside. Still, a lot of the inner workings of his brain, such as why he stubbornly refuses to come inside when I call him remain an enigma to me. Let’s just call that a power play and leave it at that.

Right now the dog is lying comfortably on a blanket on the couch in the living room, probably fairly bored, while I pound out this week’s column. Like me, he’s waiting for life to get exciting again.

In a little while, when I ask him if he wants to go for an R-I-D-E, all of that will change as he leaps and twists his body all the way out to the car. I will just need to remember to put on my suit of armor before I throw the question out to him.

It won’t matter to him where we are going (remember that doctor visit I mentioned a little bit ago? Mwuhahahaha!) He’ll just be happy to climb all over the inside of my car, stick his nose out the window and feel the wind against his face.

Having this animal along for this part of the journey reminds me how to live in the moment, an ongoing treat and education.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times’ readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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