As a new dog owner, I have realized that one of the many changes in my life is how I experience nature, exemplified by I took a trip to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina. I had been here over a dozen times for events, a wedding, walks, and to study. However, I had never been… with a dog. I immediately noticed a difference in how I saw my surroundings.
At the parking lot, I stopped to read the information on the bulletin to figure out where dogs were allowed. Before, I had probably blown past this information 20 times. After we got inside, I noticed we were walking very slowly so I could allow for all of Stevie’s sniffing (yes she’s a girl, like Stevie Nicks). I bent down at a rose bush that Stevie had wrapped her leash around, and literally stopped to smell the roses. I noticed the panting of my dog so I looked around for a drinking fountain, something I myself had never needed. After spotting a beautiful stone drinking fountain I thought, “That must be purely decorative.” Much to my delight, it worked! Who knew these little things would be so interesting, how had I missed them before?
We moved on to the terraces, and I was struck by how beautiful the array of flowers and sculptures are. Stevie, however, saw this as a new obstacle and started working her way down the steps. I tried to take a picture of her and almost fell backwards off a ledge! You need your wits about you if you are trying to get that perfect shot of your pup.
We moved down to the Fish Pond and took a look inside. They were in a bit of a frenzy as someone had just dropped something in the middle of the swirling koi. As Stevie leaned over and started to sniff, I caught myself thinking “Are these things carnivorous?” They were about the same length as my dog, and I did not want to imagine the implications of her falling in. How funny that something I had previously regarded with interest was now a ‘threat’ to my dog and something to be hustled away from.
Finally, we sat in the Rollins Overlook and watched the people go by. I studied them: dog lover, scared of dogs, interested but does not get any closer. This was definitely a different way of people watching! As it started to rain, I quickly threw on my raincoat and sighed exasperatedly as I put away my camera. However, a look down at Stevie with her wet fur and her excited jumps in the rain made me take a step back. It wasn’t cold; actually the rain was a much needed relief from the heat. What was I so upset about really? Maybe if I looked at the rain like Stevie did, it wasn’t so bad after all. Who knew a 4-month-old puppy would have me looking at the silver lining of a rainy afternoon?