Our dog is a faithful dog.
She was once a seeing eye project; a project who just about missed muster on her exams. With this failure behind her, she came to live with us. Needless to say, the seeing eye's loss is our gain.
For over a decade, our gentle, lovable golden retriever has graced our company with her playful, if absent-minded, hi-jinks. We laugh at her eagerness to chase her tail; we smile at her willingness to please; we smirk at her half-hearted attempts to chase the ubiquitous deer off our property.
But what I appreciate most about our Halo, for that is her name, is her sense of discovery. This commitment to exploration of the surrounding world is not unique to her; every dog worth its salt should share an ever curious nose.
But watching my dog sniff out new areas with all the eagerness and wide-eyed wonder of Marco Polo is truly special. So I try to maximize her exposure to unknown regions to explore.
And she is just as eager to explore as anyone has ever been.
I took her to Turkey Point recently: a secluded, natural area on the banks of the Delaware Bayshore. Its wonder has never failed to capture my imagination; and I was curious to see how Halo would respond to the new surroundings.
First on discovery's unlimited menu: moss. Sphagnum moss: a dense carpet of vibrant color in an otherwise gray winter landscape. Also known as peat moss, this non vascular organism has had a variety of uses over time, including use as a fertilizer or a diaper for Native American children.
Halo's found a fern. Many types of ferns decorate our local woodlands. Whether cinnamon or fiddle-head, these fascinating plants serve as a beautiful under-story accent.
Ferns thrive in moist climates, which explains why in the forests of Britain, I found ferns the size of my head, (bigger than you think). But anyway, good job Halo, your nose has not let you down so far. See if it can find you something in animal kingdom...
Ah, my canid friend has found the remnants from another canid friend, probably a coyote. This wily creature has made his abode in a berm surrounding a nearby pond. Halo knows that this is the most interesting find so far; in this very hole, one of her distant relatives has set up shop, and has done quite well, if the demise of the deer population is any sign.
It's wonderful to watch new horizons of knowledge open up for people (and dogs.) It must be such a joy to be an educator, to sense the smiles form on virgin minds when a new concept is grasped. I see it all the time when I educate others on nature, and it has built the most rewarding type of job imaginable: sharing knowledge with others. It brings to mind the quote which has become a maxim: "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles by it." Not only a maxim, a God-given purpose to define our lives by.
But perhaps the most important discovery of all came toward the end of our walk; discoveries are endless. We found that out on the brisk February afternoon we walked through the woodlands of Turkey Point; up ahead was only one trail left to explore. Halo was fearlessly leading the charge when the woods suddenly opened up to a picturesque vista overlooking the marshes of the Delaware bayshore. We looked on as Black Ducks winged by in their usual brisk hurry. We watched the Great Blue Heron abscond with a cacophony of grunts and squawks accompanying.
But mostly, we watched the horizon, knowing the horizon of discovery to be loaded with possibilities.
Onward, Halo. The discoveries of God's creation are endless.
And we don't want to miss a single one.
I am sharing this on Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday.