Commentary – A Dog’s Eye View

Walking for fitness or fun is a great way to rediscover the worldaround us. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston haslearned that how we view that world can also be colored by whom we walkwith:


Walking for fitness or fun is a great way to rediscover the world
around us. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston
has learned that how we view that world can also be colored by whom
we walk with.

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of walking, thanks to our dog,

Jessie’s taught me a lot. Retrievers have very sensitive noses, which
they like to keep close to the pavement. By watching her as she
snuffles along, I’m seeing things that I’ve never noticed before.

For example, our walks take us along rural roads and through a
neighboring subdivision, so we get to see a variety of flowers. While
some of the landscaped gardens are really quite beautiful, they can’t
come close to the riot of color and scents that wildflowers display
at this time of year. I wouldn’t have even noticed the wildflowers if
Jessie hadn’t tried to chase after the butterflies that flutter
around them.

I’m looking in ditches a lot more, too. And what I’ve noticed is that
there are hundreds of pop cans and bottles littering the countryside,
but I rarely see an empty beer bottle. I don’t think it’s because
beer drinkers are more responsible either. Where I live there isn’t a
deposit on pop containers, but there is on beer. I get the feeling
that a simple five-cent deposit on all pop cans would clean up the
ditches far faster than any community recycling blitz.

I never quite appreciated the value of trees until I walked with a
panting dog. Even on the hottest day, walking under the shady
branches of a tree immediately cools you down. I don’t know why
everybody doesn’t have a yard full of them. They do more to help the
environment that any other living thing that I can think of. They
take in carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming. They
store the carbon and release oxygen back into the air. They provide
protection against ultraviolet radiation and they cool the pavement
and the air. As few as three properly planted trees around a home can
cut air-conditioning bills by up to 50 percent in the summer and help
reduce heating costs in winter. No wonder dogs love trees so much.

The best part of walking Jessie is that I’ve learned that heaven’s
under our feet as well as over our heads. For those who care to look,
there’s an entire universe laid out at our feet. For the first time,
I’m noticing the tiny insects that scurry along and the valiant
wildflowers that take root in the cracks of the sidewalk. Jessie
flushes out beautiful yellow finches and tugs on her leash when she
sees sparrows hopping along the pavement in search of breakfast. When
we walk first thing in the morning, the sunlight dances on the
dew-soaked grass and makes it glisten like emerald velvet. The
pebbles on the side of the road glitter like precious jewels. This is
the kingdom of the early morning walker and Jessie and I are its