Ridge-running dogs don’t care about the weather.
They run the ridges as their avocation, their metier, their being.
The snow can blanket the forests and hills, but a good ridge-running dog will take to it as if her paws were meant to grace the snow and ice as they were the softest of rugs.
They live life for boisterous winter days when nothing is stirring but the wind, which casts the scents of forest denizens into her quivering nose.
These are the days for the gentle retriever to become a big more lupine in manner, questing over through the thickets where grouse and rabbits have sought refuge from the ever-peering eyes of the red-tails circling above.
It is a time of near limitless freedom, of the spontaneity of the chase, and of the sudden abandon of a running fit.
And it s time of a state of Zen to which we mere humans can only hope to aspire.
And that, folks, is why I like to be out with an old ridge-running dog.
My neuroses and failings slip away into the cold air. I am free for the moment. I can finally be.
Thank you, dear ridge-runner, for bringing me back so many times to your world of wild thickets, fluttering grouse, squacking squirrels, and bounding rabbits.
It is but a taste of the world that both our species once knew when we walked that ancient taiga in search of game. Our time together in the wild is but a facsimile of that time and place, but it is one where you play the part so much better than I do.
All that I can say is that I’m humbled to have this time with you, and I know that I cannot show you enough appreciation for the joy you have brought me.
Just to be in the presence of a dog with a sagacious mind and a body well adapted to running up and down hills is to be taken on a journey outside of modern human experience.
It is an attempt to taste what it means to be natural again.
That mere taste is the greatest gift that the ridge-runner can bestow upon me, but it makes me yearn for more.
The taste is just that sweet.