What My Dog Sees

This is my dog, Clooney:

My dog Clooney on his new sofa

I have learned a lot of lessons from my dog, Clooney, but one recent (and very important) lesson, is that even when you are walking right next to someone you have known almost their entire lives, your personal experiences can be vastly different.

Case in point

We have recently moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and for both Clooney and me that means that there are new sights to be seen, sounds to be heard, and vistas to be explored.

Clooney and I have been going on twice daily walks together for seven-and-a-half years now. In North Carolina, we took most of our walks down the street where we lived to a private trail that was in a deciduous forest. Occasionally we would run into other neighborhood dogs, but for the most part our walks were unremarkable.

I suppose that some of this had to do with the fact that the landscape was the only landscape Clooney knew and was, therefore, familiar. We did take him to the beach a couple of times, but for the most part, he spent his life in North Raleigh, where he dealt with his three main enemies: cats, deer, and UPS trucks.

The house we lived in for the first six-and-a-half years of his life had numerous windows and was located on a corner that saw a lot of school bus and UPS truck traffic, and while Clooney could abide the school buses, he had no love at all for the UPS trucks.

Large parts of his day were devoted to keeping an eye out for the big brown vehicles as they trundled up the hill, and he would bark as necessary to prevent them from driving across the lawn into our house.

As for the deer, they bothered him mostly at night, and he would bark into the dark in an effort to keep them away, but over time, the deer came to know that they were safe from him, and they would cavort around the yard, eating whatever foliage appealed to them and leaving the yard full of deer tracks.

We would see the few outdoor cats that lived in our neighborhood while we were out on our walks. Clooney would strain at his leash and make a dreadful, otherworldly noise that sounded like he was being attacked by some monstrous unidentified creature, but eventually I would pull him away, and we would continue our walk.

The view from Albuquerque

Life has changed a lot for Clooney, and not just because we are at a higher altitude and the humidity is lower.

One major change is that the house we now live in does not afford him a constant view of the street, so he no longer has UPS trucks to bark at. Another difference is that there aren’t enough plants to attract or support deer, so he no longer has ruminants to distress him. Lastly, the cats that live outdoors in Albuquerque run the risk of encountering a coyote, so not many cats live outdoors, and when we go out on our walks we seldom see one.

So what do we see?

Living in a postcard

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that the skyscape anywhere in New Mexico is like living in an old-time postcard that showcases a scenic view.

Ordinary vistas often take my breath away.

Such was the case last week when Clooney and I were out for our evening walk. I had started bringing a dog comb along on our walks because he was getting into all kinds of stickers, but as this was my view:

What I see when I walk my dog

I couldn’t understand why he was always covered in stickers that necessitated a long time spent combing out his coat which neither of us enjoyed.

Then I took a moment to look at the world from a Clooney-eye-view:

What my dog sees when we go for a walk

I found that there were stickers as far as the eye could see, and for reasons I don’t understand, Clooney thought they looked like a great place to investigate which is why I was having to brush him out so much.

What did I learn?

What I learned was this: you can be walking alongside someone you have known for a very long time, and the two of you can be looking at what you think is the exact same view, but how you frame that view completely changes what you see, and while walking in someone else’s shoes can give you some perspective on their experience of the world, seeing that world through their eyes can tell you even more.

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog:

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