Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

City Dog, Country Dog

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

City Dog, Country Dog

Article excerpt

I'd be hard put to say what my big, brown longhaired dog enjoys more - his freewheeling romps across the pastures and through the woods of our 80-acre farm, or the more constrained strolls, on a leash, about the neighborhood when I am based in town. As Omaha has proved himself to be a wholly devoted companion, I can let him loose on the farm, knowing I won't lose sight of him for more than a minute. He'll plunge over a rise, nose to the ground, then come leaping back into view, looking desperately about until he spots me. And then comes his low-to-the-ground rush home, and a wild reunion that might have signified a year's absence for its frenzy.

The farm has its own unique scents and intrigue. Coyotes are abundant, and their gamy marks and trails crisscross the big back pasture, intersecting those of deer, wild turkeys, and various small mammals. The stream widens here and there into deep pools that no self-respecting canine could resist after a long, panting run. Cow paths ease the way through tall grass with their own singular odor of quiet domesticity. Omaha revels in it all and knows no boundaries other than my strict refusal to let him harass or nose over any turtle that wisely hunkers into its shell upon his joyous approach.

Things are different for him in town. He is tethered by collar and leash and must adhere to a more sedate pace as I've never been a jogger, let alone a sprinter. He doesn't seem to object to his more restricted movement - particularly given the olfactory feast of a walk through a neighborhood replete with varietal members of his own tribe. Besides, all of the dogs in town are in the same boat: gently or, if need be, firmly restrained. In a word, they're civilized, if only by default. Unless he sees another canine (think firmly restrained), he positively chills - and deeply concentrates on all of the nasal delights not found on the farm. At times, especially in exploring dense shrubs, it's almost as if he's meditating.

I do not so much walk the dog as stand and meditate myself between short bursts of 20 or 30 steps as he brakes before bush after redolent bush, hedge after hedge, and street post after street post. …

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