Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

Gratitude Journal

20 July 2019

Thank you, Patti Smith, for writing Just Kids. I read the last touching sections this afternoon. To summarize is to obscure but forgive me: a story of rare friendship, written in a way that is instructive and revealing a devotion to art that is inspiring. What a love note.

20 July 2019

There are few better ways to start the day than with back-squats. There are few better weather events than the moments before a storm.

This morning I had the chance to back-squat outside right before a rainstorm.

The program I am on at present called for supersets of barbells on my back and dumbbells loaded in front. I did a dozen or more reps on both ends of the set.

I burned, I sweated, I caught my breath below. The clouds above gathered and the wind blew.

Amen.

17 July 2019

Thank you, baby rabbit, for greeting me on my way home from the gym this morning. And especially for nibbling on the pavement salad sprouting through the cracks of my driveway. I did not mind getting out of my car to see you squat there — did not mind waiting to pull in until you finished your breakfast.

9 July 2019

Being able to go for walks in the evening wearing shorts and T-shirts. Just slip on some shoes and go. This far into the summer it’s easy to take that for granted. You are reminded not to because on this night your buddy takes his time sniffing and peeing and maybe he’s soaking it up, too. At point, in the middle of a community garden he frequently guides you through, he stops for a minute and looks around. He has us you wait a few minutes and while you do he draws the interest of a lovely lady with long hair who squats to greet him and ask about him and make his tail wag before she resumes a stroll with her girlfriend and before the two of you leave the garden to find new things to sniff and pee on while walking slowly under the sun and in the comfortable warmth of the evening.

8 July 2019

Making all the lights. Such a satisfying way to go to back and forth to work on the first day following a long holiday weekend.

7 July 2019

You were overdue to clean the fridge. You were up way early and the energy struck. Which, in the direction of fridge cleaning, seldom happens at any hour of any day. Really wouldn’t take that long. It’s Sunday; grocery day — we don’t got much in here anyway. So you cleaned the fridge, start to finish, before five a.m. What a light feeling the rest of the day: you open the door, realize again what you did, and sigh contentedly.

6 July 2019

You hesitated when asked. You are grateful to people who volunteer at animal control centers. But you do not like to visit them yourself. At shelters of any kind. And you heard less than good things about this one. You had driven by before and even that, just driving by, aroused unpleasant thoughts of what might be happening inside. You do not like to see dogs who do not have homes. You expect uncleanliness. You expect sad and lonely animals. You expect to be depressed. To walk away depressed. But you know you should go. This spontaneous opportunity — you would not have decided this but now that it is here you know the planned coffee with friends … that will go on without you. A few blocks from the pound you see a volunteer walking one of the dogs with the same colors as your dog — brown and white — but bigger with sleeker fur. There is some pit bull in there, must be. The volunteer’s body language is that of a person carrying out a chore. On the other end of the lead he the dog explores the world the way dogs do — all in an all there. You have agreed to go with a kind soul who fosters cats. The place is cleaner than you expected. After holding some kittens, giving out a little love, talking to a volunteer, and a couple who will go home with at least one more cat, they just can’t decide which one(s), you agree to go into the dog area, where you see the boy who had been on the walk on your way there. A few minutes later he will walk out the front door again — for the last time — this time with a woman who looks like the female human version of him, who is taking him home. She leaves to cheers from others who are in line. You will also meet a Mastiff who initially struggles to leave his cage but eventually does. Then sits with a woman who wants him. There is something not right with this big boy. Stress? Is it neurological? Two different volunteers use that word. The woman is on the phone. The Mastiff looks out a window. Turning around in an adoption room he bangs his head on a wall. You don’t wait to see how it turns out. Good things are happening. You have more love to give and you should be like these creatures and caretakers and not hold it back.

5 July 2019

To the woman working at the craft store … watching YouTube (or some such) as you approach her desk with your questions … who does not turn off the YouTubs (or some such) as you ask your questions … questions you ask at length not knowing exactly what you are looking for … as she slowly lifts her head away from the screen, listens to each of your questions, not wanting to get up to show you things but doing it anyway … revealing a space between where the back of her shirt ends and the top of her jeans begin, a window into her backside that is altogether lower than she probably intends … and while she is more comely than she might give herself credit for this is not sexy but makes you see her as you are and we all are — as real and flawed and not exactly put together as we might always like … you hope some day the smile she never shows you comes out, stays out — that she finds work that lights her up brighter than the screen you just took her away from.

24 June 2019

To the young rabbit nestled in the grass next to my home who greets me upon my return from the gym in the morning, sweaty and ready for the workday …

… and the slightly older rabbit, on its hind legs, perched on the step of the house across the street, regarding me, as I pull down my bed sheets, ready to rest at the end of the same day …

The thought occurs that you are one in the same, that you moved over there to get a better view. You are the embodiment of the symmetry and symbolism of my waking hours. More likely you are two — two cousins — dual-effort reminders that I am one, too.

To you guides who show the speed of the days as contrasted by the stillness of the moments … thank you.

14 June 2019

After coming back from a fifty-minute walk your little buddy sprints down the line of the fence to chase a squirrel racing down the top, prompting the squirrel to leap onto a tree branch — six feet up being not high enough for comfort. Then he, the little buddy, sprints back into the yard, turns, and sprints with the ball you just rolled his way, pushing that bigger-than-his-head-ball with his nose, sans break stride, popping up when the ball bounces, getting low when the ball rolls, adjusting when the ball runs into the fence, playing it off the wall (as they say in baseball), coming back the way he came, ball still with him — up, then down, left to right, yeah, buddy, go — as he growls the growl he’s earned, the growl that comes with the DNA for play. After all these years he still has that mojo. He still can make the moment. He shows you that.

May 2019

 31 Friday
– Sweet ladies at the DMV. They do exist. You have proof.
– Long workouts with chocolate milk after.

30 Thursday
– Buying just the right amount of mulch.
– The person who invented the sprinkler.
– Your therapist.

29 Wednesday
– Extra sleep.
– The Dairy Queen.
– The one-eyed dog you saw at the Dairy Queen. So sweet. So ready to play. Further proof that dogs are the best.
– The way the unconscious comes up with way better solutions than does your monkey mind.
– Walks that veer off course.
– Comedy clubs.

28 Tuesday
– A rush of adrenaline to tackle projects early in the a.m.
– Itty bitty birds.
– Warm nights with nothing that you particularly have to do.

27 Monday
– Greasy burgers and good fries.
– Left-hand milk stout.
– Rainy days.
– Enough of a break in the rain to take a walk. You aren’t into this one but it’s good for you nonetheless.

26 Sunday
– The Trylon.
– The Coen Brothers.
–  Walks after the sun has already gone down.
– Second winds.

25 Saturday
– Mid-day coffee.
– Thrift-store shopping.
– Writing funny. The effect it has on you.
– Wasting time.
– Afternoons that are the perfect balance of warm and cool.
– Your father.

24 Friday
– Happy returns.
– Detours.
– Patient customer service people.
– The mouse who poked his head out at the garden center this afternoon.
– Opportunities to learn to delay gratification.
– Extra rest. Just need it now.

23 Thursday
The day before vacay.

22 Wednesday
When a problem gets solved for you — like that — poof, it’s gone.

21 Tuesday
– Kind people who work at vet clinics.
– The power of speaking out when someone does you wrong.

20 Monday
– Green grass.
– Night lights.

19 Sunday
– A sweet call.
– A day without the phone on.

18 Saturday
– Thunderstorms.
– Free lawn watering.
The Sun. The magazine. Note that this is no slight against the celestial body of the same name.
– Extra rest.
– Moments of calm.
– Moments when you want nothing and fear nothing.
– Being nervous and excited to see someone.

17 Friday
The anticipation of a rain storm.

16 Thursday
Taking time to breathe in the world with your buddy by your side.

15 Wednesday
– Finishing an essay.
– Earning a promotion.
– Some days are just bigger than others.

14 Tuesday
Mornings when it doesn’t take long to write long.

12 Sunday
– Making your own rainbow when you turn your hose just so.
– Cool but clear and comfortable mornings that are made for walking with your little buddy.
– Spinach and egg scramble, with garlic and onions.

11 Saturday
– Pulling weeds from the ground.
– Green grass.
– The little critter you see crawling in your grass.
– Finding flowers early.
– The discoveries of spring.

10 Friday
– The good that happens when you ask for what you need — even if you don’t exactly get it.
– When you wake up and feel good about the conversation you stayed up late to have the night before.
– Minnehaha from below the Falls.
– Meeting a woman named Siri — a real one, not the one who lives in your phone.
– Talking on the phone.

9 Thursday
Lenny’s Cookies. Chocolate chip, of course.

8 Wednesday
Think Thin bars. Brownie crunch is where it’s at.

5 Sunday
The Russian Museum of Art. Sundays are good days to look at art.

4 Saturday
– Meditation time.
– Seeing your breath in the early morning hours and yet it’s not all that cold out.
– When it’s a bunny bonanza during the morning walk.
– The DavidPal 36.
– Meeting a fellow writer and talking easy about everything that comes.
– Gerten’s.
– Ice baths.

3 Friday
– Easy people.
– The Fish Philosophy.
– Making funny at work.

2 Thursday
The month of May.

1 Wednesday
– Watching a fox amble in the early morning light.
– Spotting two rabbits watching you on the mid-morning walk.
– Getting your squats in. And the rest of the reps, too.
– Making mindfulness progress. Finding practical applications.
– Speaking up.
– Listening well.
– Exploring an area of the neighborhood for the first time.
– The promise of chocolate.

April 2019

30 Tuesday
Cold showers.

29 Monday
Cold baths.

28 Sunday
– Walks along the Mississippi River.
– Light-jacket weather.
– Good coffee, better conversation.
– Getting your workout in after a couple crabby days off (you had to take).

27 Saturday
– Extra time to stretch.
– Extra time to write.
– Extra sips of coffee.
– Full bags of yard waste.
– A full fridge.

24 Wednesday
– Surprising someone.
– New life in the form of budding plants.
– Sudden death in the form of overtime hockey.

23 Tuesday
– Rabbits.
– What you can do to get a quick workout in with just a couple of rubber bands.

22 Monday
– Lactose-free yogurt.
Rain.
– Hard things.
– Grass.
– My fence.
– Kale.
– Himalayan pink salt.
– Ginger paste.
– My home.
– The Earth.

21 Sunday
Iodine.
– Good grocery store customer service.
– Egg and bean burritos.
– The mist at Minnehaha Falls.
– Mark T. Bedard.
– Trees.
– People who remind you to come back to this moment and not resist anything.

20 Saturday
– Fatigue.
– Free tables.
– Freedom.
– Fish.
– Kind strangers.
– Naps that feel like they were all day when really they were like an hour.
– Trying a new restaurant.
– Being invited to a party.
– Unexpectedly being able to check things off that had been on your list for a long time.

19 Friday
Sharing an accomplishment with your colleagues.
– Buying a card for someone who won’t expect it.
– Bringing just enough food to get you through the work day so you don’t have to spend money at the cafeteria.
– Egg and avocado sandwiches.

18 Thursday
– Overdue haircuts.
– Special ordered doughnuts.
– Swiping clean that nearly impossible-to-reach corner on the far, low side of your claw foot tub. So satisfying to see the dirt on your rag rather than on the floor.
– Learning about running.
– Making all your squats.
– Lifting a little extra.
– Leisurely coffee on a weekday.
– Putting the recycling out a whole eighteen hours early.

17 Wednesday
– Mornings at the gym you set aside as play time — time to work on form, stretch a bit, and hit a few reps in some challenge areas, priming the pump, starting the momentum for tomorrow’s time to push.
– Knowing that is all you have to push tomorrow. Thank goodness for PTO!

16 Tuesday
– Late walks.
– The bunnies that greet us as we stroll through the neighborhood at night.
– Long mornings.
– A long-anticipated appointment.
– A week that breaks the routine.
– A happy dog.
– Seeing the neighbor outside without a shirt on after sunset. Editor’s note: a detail shared entirely as a way to affirm the warmth of the night.

15 Monday
The taxes that pay for our roads and bridges and schools and laws and courtrooms and even the street lights that guide us home in the middle of the night.

14 Sunday
– The Weisman Art Museum.
– Sun that warms a large room.
– The Minneapolis skyline.
– Good conversation.
– Tiger Woods.

13 Saturday
– Working all alone.
– Rhythm and blues.
– Cheap pizza and chocolate chip ice cream and a cheeseburger because what would cheat day be with them?

12 Friday
The chance to teach.

11 Thursday
Minnehaha Falls. Even when it is cold outside.

10 Wednesday
– Feeling confident when you ask questions about things you don’t know.
– The NHL playoffs.

9 Tuesday
Phone conversations in which the only goal is to talk. You know, like people used to do.

6 Saturday
– The sound of rain on the roof.
– Mid-morning naps. Sometimes you need a little extra sleep to recover from the week that was. Get it and you are good to go.
– Connection.
– Disconnection.
– Long talks at the coffee shop.
– Albert Camus.

5 Friday
– Feeling comfortable at work.
– Asking for advice. Getting it. Learning because of it.
– Gym mornings in which you can just play around and practice. You don’t have to hate it — it doesn’t have to be hard — in order to make gains.
– Getting your reps in in other ways, too: another day of doing what you do. The experience, the knowledge, it’s accumulating, even if you don’t see it in the every day.

4 Thursday
– Chicken salad wraps.
– Seeing bunnies scurry across the alley in the morning.

3 Wednesday
– Finding a kind and capable dentist.
– Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
– Tony Kornheiser.

2 Tuesday
– The sweet, stocky dog who sits, at attention, as you and your little buddy walk on by. May he be untethered soon.
– The single leaf that floats in front of your door, riding a wave of wind.
– The man that goes by Moon Dog.
– Sunlight in your dog’s eyes.

1 Monday
– Reminders that prompt you to buckle down and focus anew on something important to you.
– Difficult days.
– What anxiety says.
– The houses on 44th Avenue.

March 2019

31 Sunday
– A certain guy named Larry who remembered your name.
– Sitting in the back pew in a church that is new to you.
– Finding out a given place isn’t the right space for you. Check one more off the list.
– Cod sandwiches.

30 Saturday
– Sunlight.
– The sensation of being open and ready to learn.
– A boosted metabolism.
– Hazelwood’s rotisserie chicken.
The Social Network.
– Reading about philosophy.
– Marcus Aurelius.

29 Friday
– A solid plan for the weekend.
– The Friday night unwind.
– Suddenly being able to process more protein.
– Seeing how excited your dog is to sniff fresh ground — nearly every inch of the park.

28 Thursday
Making a former colleague laugh.

27 Wednesday
Palpable signs of increased (but quiet) confidence.

25 Monday
– Waking up with a juicy dream to write down.
– Spring walks before dawn.

24 Sunday
– Watching your little buddy run on a golf course. Playing through!
– Making it through Trader Joe’s quickly — just like you said you would, unlike what you usually do.
– Failing on the last deadlift and being just fine with that.
– Brazil nuts.

23 Saturday
– Forgetting something at the gym, walking back inside to get it, running into someone with a happy smile you otherwise would have missed.
– Writing time.
– Talking time.
– Coffee time.
– Steaming hot pot roast with medallion onions.

22 Friday
Staying a little late on a Friday to help out.

21 Thursday
A free piece of pizza.

20 Wednesday
Sharing time.

17 Sunday
Finishing a good book.
– Trying a new kind of coffee in your old French press.
– Seeing almost all of the snow, just days ago piled so high, nearly vanished from the roof of your garage.
– Looking up and seeing your dog walk on the snow. What’s the big deal? It seems like it’s been so long since that snow wasn’t his Kilimanjaro.
– Consignment shops.
– Finding a new pair of jeans.
– Long walks through puddled sidewalks.
– The good that happens when you follow the energy.

16 Saturday
– Going to a new coffee shop.
– Connecting with fellow writers.
– Being able to go for a walk with your dog and pick up his poop without freezing your hands.
– The man at the library who has the morning newspaper in-hand as you walk in but immediately offers you sections.
– The calm of the library.
– The reward of a fixed toilet.

15 Friday
– Being funny with someone you don’t know.
– Getting something wrong for a good reason.
– The raccoon you could have easily run over had you not pumped the breaks when you saw the 6 a.m. shadows. Poor thing sliding around on the ice: he looked up at you after you stopped as if wondering where his skates were.
– Seeing the same raccoon saunter up the walkway of the house before you with a gate that said: “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going back inside.”

14 Thursday
Being able to negotiate your car down a Minneapolis alley. For two-plus days, that seemingly simple thing … not possible given the height of the ice and the depth of moats of water running as wide as your tires.

13 Wednesday
– A safe, dry home.
– Inner strength.
– Dreams that challenge you.
– Challenges to your dreams.
– More clarity than you’ve ever had as an adult.
– Daily challenges to staying on that path.
– Journalists. The real ones. The ones that go after the truth, chasing a story for weeks, months, sometimes years. It’s possible they have never been more important.

12 Tuesday
– Laughing before 5:30 in the morning.
– Making up the lost hour of sleep from Daylight Savings.
– The moment you pour hot water into the French press and the coffee soaks and steams.
– The mental health effects reading good books.

11 Monday
– ACE hardware. Because you know you can walk in there with your mistake in hand and that they will help you fix it.
– Taking Monday off.
– Full body workouts.
– Finding a new way to track your food.
– Extra sun in the living room.
– The smell of ginger chicken in the crockpot.
– Chocolate milk. What a treat. Been so long.

10 Sunday
– Heavy sleep.
– Heavy snow on light tree branches.
– Digging out from a snow storm first thing in the morning.
– The philosophical work of Elizabeth Anderson.

9 Saturday
– Library meeting rooms.
– Being able to check out fifty things from a library at one time. Fifty!
– Perspective: yeah, this winter has been hard. But life circumstances for people experiencing winter across history … not even close.
– Extended writing time with others. Shared experience, shared purpose.
– The amount of good you can get done in a span of five minutes.
– Fried fish sandwiches.

8 Friday
– Morning naps.
– Reading in bed.
– Free time with plenty to do.

7 Thursday
– People who make you laugh.
– Getting things in order before you take a break.
– Showing up.
– Showing up early.
– Finding a new comedy club.
– Chocolate stout beer.

6 Wednesday
– Carbs. It’s not a dirty word. It’s not an illicit action to eat them. There’s a reason to eat them, even beyond the need to occasionally find comfort. You don’t believe all the hype. There is almost never only one way.
– Feeling ready to speak your mind to the world.
– Preparing to see a friend.

5 Tuesday
– Doing what you need to even when the world puts up road blocks.
– Not trying to rely on those who aren’t reliable.
– Knowing you made a wave and being OK with that.
– Signs that a seasonal corner has been turned: temps are heading in the right direction, the sun is out longer, melting will soon occur.
– Kind front-line vet staffers. There is a special place in heaven.

4 Monday
Starting a new workout program. And it’s all on you.

3 Sunday
Finding new ways to self-start, self-motivate.

2 Saturday
– Helping out a sick colleague.
– Helping out kind, elderly women.
– Being mostly alone for a few hours at work.
– Scratching all the items off your to-do list (redux).

1 Friday
When the official piece of paper arrives in the mail, saying you earned the prize.

February 2019

28 Thursday
– Learning something about trees.
– Getting all snow off the roof.
– The end of a challenging month.

27 Wednesday
– Getting to work safely. Because you couldn’t say you’re grateful you got to work on time. Not when the highway is a parking lot like that.
– Getting to spend your days fumbling with words.
– Anniversaries.
– Bosses who praise you.
– Working at a place where people share of themselves.

26 Tuesday
Facing a fear. Then finding out the fear was for naught. Is there a greater source of energy to be found in all of the universe?

25 Monday
Extra writing time in the morning.

24 Sunday
– Digging into a good book.
– The Sunday breakfast burrito. A new tradition.
– The Sunday newspaper. An old tradition.
– When your mechanic calls on you on a Sunday to tell you he can get the job done sooner. I mean, seriously.
– Cauliflower.

23 Saturday
– Jimmy Shubert.
– Seeing a new stand-up for the first time that you would see for a second.
– Showing up to the group outing. Leaving at the right time for you.
– Soaking up the night on the way home from a show.
– Stopping by the coffee shop just to see who is playing tonight.

22 Friday
– Laying low.
– Ankle weights.
– An orderly room.
– Extra time with your best friend.

21 Thursday
– Speaking up.
– Realizing that no one else knows it all, either.
– Ron, your mechanic. What a fantastic fellow.

20 Wednesday
– The chance to teach.
– Getting the snow moved. Again.
– The storytelling powers of Tracy Kidder.

19 Tuesday
Look how fast February is flying by! Doesn’t seem like it now but it will be spring before you know it, buddy.

18 Monday
– Small meals.
– Arriving early.
– Humidifiers.
– Hot tots.
– Tartar sauce.

17 Sunday
– Getting lost so that you can find yourself.
– The myriad ways at your disposal to readily learn. Reading a printed book still being among the best of these.

16 Saturday
– Librarians and library aids. So sweet. So helpful. One in particular today.
– Weather warm enough to walk in. Finally.

15 Friday
– Pizza Night.
– Parkway Pizza.
– The hour you take eating pizza, reviewing the calendar, scribbling notes, so as to move from weekday mode into weekend chill — from structured requirements to unstructured enjoyments.

14 Thursday
– Chocolate fountains.
– Graham crackers.
– Fun days at work.
– Love.

13 Wednesday
Squirrels that run into the road and up the snowbanks, around bushes, down trees, stopping their play only long enough to look at you as you drive by.

12 Tuesday
– The light rail.
– Moments when you connect and share and suddenly experience an attitude change. So much can happen with one touch of the thread.

10 Sunday
– The self-healing power of a body.
– The self-cleaning power of an oven.
– Having enough cash at the register to keep the card in the wallet.
– Compound interest.

9 Saturday
– Michael Moore movies.
– Getting up and shutting ‘er down: we give up, Mother Nature. You can have your snowbanks and icy-covered sidewalks today. We’re staying right here.
– A young woman named Hazel who inexplicably recalls your dog’s name weeks after meeting him, and immediately gives him some love.
– Knowing that when you are out in the world your dog makes so many people smile.
– A thoughtful article about a subject you really don’t usually have much desire to spend time reading about, cannabis, and, really, it’s more about our values than anything else.

8 Friday
A rare quiet day at work. And just when you need it. You are cold and worn out: the polar vortex is gonna getcha, getcha, getcha.

7 Thursday
– The positive results you can get from good old-fashioned toe-touchers.
– Just feeling like a million bucks all day … that is, until you slip and fall on the ice at late in the evening. Nothing is perfect.

5 Tuesday
– People who do good journalism.
– People who plow snow.
– People who take care of dogs.

3 Sunday
Turkey meatball sandwiches on grilled, buttered brioche.

2 Saturday
When the words just come out easy.

1 Friday
– Being trusted with a sensitive assignment.
– Knowing when you need a break.
– Making memories new again.
– Having a smart gut.