A Dog’s Willingness

Django wants to go out. He can be curled in his dog bed, snoring like an old man, and if I begin to stir, to start the process of leaving the house, he pops up, stretches, and presents himself for action. Always.

Last week we set out on a long snow hike. The day before had been warm and the top layer had begun to melt, but overnight the temperature plunged. We woke to sub-zero wind chills. The trail was rock solid, with crunch drifts hemming it on both sides.

As always, Django came eagerly, and even though we had to free his back paws of ice occasionally, he stuck with us as we wound up and down through the woods. The only sign he was uncomfortable came when we turned for home. He sprinted away off the front and kept going, even when we paused to adjust the buckles on our snow shoes.

When we finally arrived home, Django spent an hour licking his paws and resisted our attempts to check them out. A dog’s paws are essentially big, callused pads of fat, and are fairly immune to cold, but it was clear that we’d pushed it. I was a little afraid he’d need a few days to recover.

The next morning was clear and cold again. I let Django out to pee in the backyard, and he minced and darted around in the snow as usual. When I offered him the chance to go back out into the woods, where fresh snow promised him the need to wade through, chest-deep, his tail wagged and he pressed his nose into my leg.

Django doesn’t take rest days, has no sense of his own limits. He will go if you will go. In fact, he has no idea what exercise is, is planning for no events, and is quite willing to do whatever your biggest day is going to be and then settle for the same ration of kibble he always gets.

I’m pretty ambitious, for a human, in the woods, but I don’t have a dog’s willingness. I roll over in bed, sore from the day before, and turn off the alarm. I drag myself to the couch with a hot cup of coffee and let my stare go blank, facing the window. I take forever to get dressed and prepped and ready to go out, because no matter how many times the woods give me what I want, I harbor some soul doubt that they will yield their treasures today.

Not Django. Django wants to go out.