They tell you, after a major medical event, that the three most important things you can do with your life going forward are to take your medicine, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise.

My exercise consists primarily of taking walks which I do whenever possible with my partner in crime… Miss Daisy. She is my best friend, my hundred pound bunk mate, and my ever – willing exercise partner. I like to call these outings my Daisy Constitutionals… I am always amazed by the random encounters her and I experience on these excursions when all we are trying to do is mind our own business and get a little fresh air and exercise.

These are our stories.

A Beached Hermit

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As I write this, the temperatures outside hover in the 20s and 30s and the ground is covered with a thin layer of snow and ice. It’s perfectly understandable, living in the Northeast in mid-December, that I should complain about the weather because it’s just what we do up here. What we also do up here is fantasize about an early spring while reminiscing about the good times that were had during the recently departed summer. We also start pining for the days yet to come when we will, once again, be beached like gams of whales at this or that spot along a sandy shoreline at our favorite stretch of coast.
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Give The Kid An ‘A’ For Effort

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I am incredibly fortunate that Daisy is such a smart dog. I’m not always very stern and I can be terribly inconsistent when I am trying to train her but she always seems to wait patiently for me to get my act together and focus on what I’m trying to do with her.

On a recent constitutional to the park, I thought I might give a little try on improving my hand-eye coordination by trying to throw her a ball and simultaneously photographing her catching it. As you can see in the featured image, we actually pulled it off and… after a bunch of treats to celebrate… we decided to walk over to the bench nearby and bask in the warm sun and after – glow of a training victory.

After a few minutes had gone by, Daisy “told” me that someone had come entered the park – to our right – and that they had dogs with them. I knew this because Daisy has a”tell” when she sees a dog and it is quite different from her usual reaction to the sight of another human. With humans, you see, she stands up and wags her tail intently as the human approaches. With dogs, on the other hand, she stays seated – as I have worked hard to train her to do – but starts to whimper and whine… and shuffle her feet underneath herself… with excited anticipation of an impending butt – sniffing marathon.

Once they were close enough, I could see that it was a woman in her 30s … she was accompanied by two dogs on leashes and what appeared to be a late preteen young girl that was struggling mightily with what looked like a fairly young golden retriever.

Daisy, of course, was beside herself with joy when the dogs were almost upon us despite the little yipper dog (under the woman’s control) whose incessant barking made clear the fact that he was not at all impressed with my girl. The golden, on the other hand, thought Daisy was just about the finest sight he had ever seen in his young life.

While certainly no Dog Whisperer, I believe – given the number of dogs I’ve had and the number of years I’ve had them – I have a decent track record of success in matters of managing dogs around people and other dogs. With those rare exceptions out there of dogs that were just poorly bred, it’s not a complicated endeavor to teach a dog basic rules about how to act.

The same cannot be said, yet, about the little girl and her young golden retriever.

The number one rule in dog training is to be consistent. Whatever you ask of your dog, you must always ask for it the same way, and you must never let your dog give you an alternate version of what you asked for. The number two rule of dog training is to never break rule number one and never ask for more than one thing at a time.

You would never ask your toddler to stop throwing rocks and then, in the next breath, hand him one so he can move it out of the path of your running lawn mower.

And so it was that this young girl – in trying to restrain her golden from lunging at Daisy because he was so happy to see her – started firing off every command she could think of as the dog dragged her closer to us: “Stop!”, “Sit!”, “Lay Down!”, “Roll Over!”, “Heel!”and back to “Lay Down!” again. And it’s not as if either of them could be blamed… she was frantically trying everything she could think of to get the dog to stop, and he stopped hearing her after the first “lay Down!” once he felt that she was giving ground with the leash on his charge to the lovely Miss Daisy.

I already knew what was going to happen next, and I must admit that I was laughing a little on the inside as I watched it unfold in slow motion.

You know, it’s funny how people so easily forget that dogs don’t understand your words nearly so much as they understand your tone and your body language. It is how they communicate with each other after all and it’s a universal canine language. And… unlike people, dogs share an incredibly small vocabulary with each other – no need for foreplay or endless mind-numbing cheddar on matters of physical or personal security.

Once that puppy got two strides away from the still – seated Daisy… tail wagging, body quivering, and the look of love beaming from his face… Daisy got to her feet – giving a quick low growl – and dropped him on his back like a bad habit as if to say “back the fuck off”.

After a muted yelp, and a quick limb inventory, the little guy was in a seated position… staring at her… waiting for her further instructions on how he would be allowed to proceed.

I will never know, of course, how much time that little girl had already spent trying to figure out how to train her puppy. What I do know, however, is that she was able to see – in the span of about 15 seconds – how quickly her dog can learn an important lesson. God bless her… she really does love her puppy… I can only hope she went home and started applying what she learned by watching Daisy school him on the right way to treat a lady.

[Image courtesy of FunnyJunk]
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Of Man And Beast

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For all that has been written about the relationship between Man and Beast, I can assure you that infinite volumes have yet to be penned. Some context..

Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions people have about us Hermits is that we aspire to be isolated from the outside world. While it may be true that we prefer to be alone… none of us seeks to be lonely. And while the non – Hermit might consider this to be splitting hairs, the Hermit – life faithful understands that there is a clear distinction.

Each of us designs our lives in the ways necessary to fill whatever unique holes we have inside that we carry around with us. Some talk to plants.. some read or write books… some even make “stuff” in the name of keeping their hands busy just to pass the time.

Me? I carry on deep and meaningful spiritual conversations with my best friend Daisy.

Daisy is an intentional cross between a red Golden Retriever and a Newfoundland. She is far and away the best dog I have ever had… And I have had a rich and diverse life filled with many dogs of many different breeds. What sets apart Daisy from all the others is her loyalty to me, her unwillingness to let me out of her sight and need to be with me always, and the incredible love that she has for my kids and grandkids.. and for every single human being she has ever come in contact with. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

I think it’s safe to say that she has a whole lot more faith in the Human Beast than I do.

Consider this an introduction to a special section reserved for chronicling mine and Daisy’s adventures.. “Daisy Constitutionals” if you will… which began innocently enough – inspired primarily by my Doctors’ orders to get out and take walks in the name of fresh air and exercise.

They tell you, after a major medical event, that the three most important things you can do with your life going forward are to take your medicine, eat a healthy diet, and… get plenty of exercise. So that’s what I started doing. Of course no one warned us about the numbers of batshit crazy people we would come across along the way, but I suppose that would have taken all the fun out of it.

These are our stories.

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