When Leo was a puppy, he needed to be taught how to do everything from coming when called, to relieving himself outside, to learning that if food was left on a table or counter that it was not an invitation for him to help himself! At some point, he learned, or used his instincts to help him retrieve objects when thrown – tennis balls, sticks, you name it, he would chase the soaring item and sure enough, bring it right back to whoever initiated the “game.”
At nine years old, Leo, a beautiful Golden Retriever who prances when walking (perhaps due to his father’s famous show dog lineage) has shifted his approach to retrieving. Yes, he will still occasionally be enthused by the stick throwing routine, but these days, Leo has his sights set on a much more creative approach to play.
Instead of waiting for an object to be thrown and then capturing it, Leo initiates a whole new approach to fun. Most mornings, he can be found racing through the Swift River trails en route to a quieter open space where there is a sandy spot that has easy access to a slower moving part of the river. Upon closer view, one will notice that Leo is actually surveying the shallow waters and then hand, or paw-selecting a river rock.
Sometimes the transaction is seamless, and he is able to secure the rock in his mouth before bringing it up to higher ground, proudly dropping it near our feet and going back for more. Other times, Leo may choose a rock that is too big for his mouth span and he will relentlessly try to capture it, nudging it with his nose – usually heading in the wrong direction away from the shore – whining at it and if really frustrated, barking profusely. I am in awe of the whole fascinating process! The fruits of his labor have been collecting over these summer weeks and he now has garnered quite a river rock garden!
As I wonder at how amazing Leo’s new development has been to observe, I am reminded that an old dog can learn new tricks! Taking a page out of Leo’s book, and with the guidance of many writing legends – past and present – I am creating this blog to have a place to share my life moments – immense or miniscule – of any size. It is here that I am committing to living a writerly life so that I can be a more authentic teacher of writing for my fourth grade students. Cheers to all teachers as we get closer to the new school year ahead on the horizon.