Squirrel Dreams

There are a lot of things I love about hiking with my pup, Rumi. The way her tail gets a kink in the end when she’s really, really excited, for example. The way her tongue falls out of the side of her mouth when she’s really tired. The way she runs and wags her tail at the same time, as though she can’t stop smiling. Perhaps my favorite thing, though, is the way she runs; awkwardly, just like her human.

Neither of us were built to run. Even before the accident, I wasn’t much of a runner. And I certainly wasn’t graceful. Neither is she.

Where her best pup-friend appears to glide across the horizon, his back parallel with the earth beneath him, legs spinning in smooth, perfect circles… Rumi’s pit-bull/bloodhound breeding relegates her to a stilted waddle, rather like a pirate with two peg legs swinging stiffly, bouncing each side of her hind-end in rhythm with her cadence. It ain’t graceful. But it is adorable.

If either of them had a chance at catching a squirrel, it would not be my sweet Rumi.

Perhaps the thing I love most about life with this little pooch, though, is that this truth doesn’t stop her. It doesn’t keep her from following the scent of a deer through the woods at full tilt, it doesn’t keep her from thundering along behind her canine friends in the park, and it certainly doesn’t keep her from chasing squirrels. (Which are, incidentally, rather good runners.)

Watching her give chase to the um-teen-million-th squirrel she spotted in the woods some months back, I was inspired. That little dog has never caught a squirrel. The chances of her accomplishing this feat are so remote, I believe the furry little rats actually taunt her with barks of their own from high up in the branches of the trees. But she’ll never stop chasing them. Some part of her believes she might just do it. At the very least, a measurable part of her believes she should always try. And, as is evident from the kink in her tail, the panting, the incessant wagging… she loves the experience itself – she loves the pursuit. Even if it is hard work.

What if we chased our own dreams that way? What if we never considered the improbability of success? What if we never worried about the challenges? What if we just chased our dreams because we want to, because it’s worth a try? What if we kept working at them because somewhere deep down we kept believing in ourselves and what we’re capable of?

Perhaps we  should take a lesson from our four legged friends and launch ourselves into the pursuit of our dreams with reckless abandon, dodging obstacles, refusing to believe they are challenges at all, knowing we’ll come through the experience with tongues lolling out the sides of our mouths and kinks in our tails.

Not necessarily because we’ve been successful, but because it’s fun to believe, it’s fun to dream.

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