Lesson From the Dog

I understood the phrase “pulling for home,” but – despite growing up with horses – hadn’t got it until just recently.

“Pulling for home” is a phrase that turns up in poetry and stories set in or evoking the time of horse-drawn vehicles. At the end of the day, horses knew that a warm stable and food awaited them, and they would pull harder to get there. It’s the same renewed energy many people feel as they clock out at 5:00.

Well, the other day I started taking the dog for a 4-mile walk in the early morning, well before sunrise or his breakfast time. He loves his walks, and is up for one anytime, and walking in the dark is familiar because we usually do this walk at night after dinner. Early morning is a great time to walk; there’s a wintery snap in the air right now and occasionally we see coyotes cruising the suburbs looking strong and free beneath the streetlights. I noticed that lately when we cross one particular intersection the dog knows we’re less than a mile from home and suddenly there’s a fresh bounce in his step and he’s straining at the lead.

That’s when it hit me: when we walk at night, the only thing waiting for him is bed, but in the morning, there’s the promise of bed and a meal. That puts an extra boost in his bonnet, and together we join in a good old fashioned literary tradition as he enthusiastically pulls for home.

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