Life Lesson #2: Be Present. As taught to me by my dogs.

Lula and a Lesson on LifeIn the past eight years my weight has fluctuated between 112 and 128 pounds. Okay, 130.   My fightin’ weight is somewhere at the low end of that scale. That’s where I – I was about to say – comfortably run Marathons. But who does 26.2 miles in comfort? The loss of toenails, chaffed armpits, back spasms, ankle fractures, and knee dislocations pretty much assures a level of discomposure, if not decomposition.

I’ve run six of these massive endurance events, and I’ve learned that to finish is to face your own personal level of annihilation and move through it, having left yourself behind.

At the upper end of that weight spectrum is another form of obliteration. It comes from owning, funding, launching and leading a USA pet food manufacturing business while being the mother and primary caregiver to three young’uns. Sleeplessness – despite stress-induced mental and physical exhaustion – is a weight-gaining drug. Of course, it’s made worse by the caffeine-cannoli diet. The ringing in my ears is only matched by the one around my middle.

Balance – the metaphysical kind – is key to well-being. I realized this through the very physical practice of yoga.   The trouble is, in both yoga and life, those inverted, twisted-pretzel, buttcheeks-between-your-elbows balancing acts are tough to stay in for very long. Despite continuous practice and discipline, you can still fall on your arse.

This is where my three young’uns come in. They are two standard poodles and a side-walk special, size medium. Collective weight = 163 pounds. Even in blizzards they get two hours of daily exercise. Tired dogs make peaceful packs. Idle dogs get into 163×3 pounds of trouble.

In ultra-ambitious moments, I try to combine canine and human exercise programs into one. We run together. A 5.5 mile loop though neighborhood streets.

You would know us if you saw us. I’m that #WhackedOutDogLady. Hands-free and harnessed-up to three canines. I require the lead, and my pack usually concedes it… by mile three.  As fast and fit as they are, I like to think they sense I can outlast them. Truthfully, by mile three they’ve probably just eliminated all bodily substances (which to their confusion we’ve stopped to pick up and carry with us), and realized no chase-worthy, self-respecting pack of wild jack rabbits is going to cross our path, so we should just get this lame ordeal done with so we can return to hunting squirrels in the leash-free, burnt-grass, postage-stamp of our back yard.

So at mile three, the dynamic changes for all of us. They resign themselves to banality. I commit myself to an uninterrupted smooth sail home. Balance, here we come.

I turn my iPod up, shoulders relax, gait lengthens, breathing rhythmic, hands and arms loose at my sides. Cadence. A long relaxing peaceful exhale: “ahhhh”. Enter transference – the state where my awareness of foot-strike on pavement shifts to the loftiness between foot-falls. I’m connected more with the air than the ground. Ahhh, I say again with the distinctly human experience of flight.

WARNING: Notice in this aforementioned pre-flight checklist, I didn’t say “pups in tow.” As this is not, in fact, on my mind, on the date in question.

Rounding a curve, a half-mile from home, speed approaching full-throttle, cue the pack of wild jack rabbits.

Okay, it was one random unsuspecting scrappy squirrel. But I didn’t see it. And all three of my canines did. The result was the same.

Bedlam. 163×3.

My transference from metaphysical flight to airborne actuality was instantaneous. My 115 pound lead was conceded brutally to the stern with the force of 163 pounds of concerted canine conviction.

I had gravel in my shorts, grit in my eyes, and road rash on my inverted yogafied buttcheeks which were now somewhere up near my earlobes though not on purpose.

Spontaneously channeling my inner-truck-driver, I screamed a string of expletives I don’t ever recall learning.

Smack in the middle of a pristinely-manicured half-acre lawn, I came to equilibrium. Grass was the first thing I saw. Dirt was the first thing I tasted. Screaming was the first thing I heard. Then I noticed the voice was mine. Next I realized what I was still screaming at: three angelic canines sitting perfectly at my feet in rapt attention, heads cocked to the side, quizzical looks on their faces.

I looked up. A small crowd of landscapers gathered in the neighboring yard and began making their approach. The elderly lady whose yard I was occupying came out her front door, knitting still in hand. The driver of a convertible passing by pulled to the curb. I saw their looks and understood their thoughts: either she’s crazy or concussed. Best call for help. And lord, save those poor little angelic sweet puppies from that #WhackedOutDogLady.

Truthfully, I probably was a bit concussed. For certain, I was a lot crazy. I had one coherent thought: RUN!

I freed one of the harness leads from around my left ankle and another from the unmentionable place. The act of which drew even more gawking from the approaching landscapers. And in a single command to my pack we made off like that squirrel, vanishing like a toot in the breeze.

So the moral of this story? Well, yes, it’s about the importance of being fully present – aware and living in the shoes of your current situation (not dwelling on the fossilized past or worrying about some fictional future). And yes, it’s about being aware of the way your present reality is harnessed to those around you (even the unseen scrappy squirrels) – lest you get gravel in your unmentionables.

It’s also a decent reminder to eat more cannoli.

About Amy Renz

Amy is the CEO and Pack Leader of Goodness Gracious, LLC ( and we save lives. We make healthy 100% human-grade, USDA certified, USA sourced dog and cat treats, and give 51% of our profits to local animal shelters, rescues and spay/neuter programs in communities where our treats are sold. Our products include single-ingredient jerky and gluten free biscuits that pets love, and parents love to give. Amy is a Marathoner, a slalom skier, but first a parent to her pack of three beautiful canines. Find us on Facebook at Twitter @Goodnssgracious
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2 Responses to Life Lesson #2: Be Present. As taught to me by my dogs.

  1. Melanie says:

    Love your story. Have one as well.
    My mom, dad and I were outside on the back porch one day. My mom had both of the dogs on their leashes and we were just talking enjoying the weather.
    I then see out of the corner of my eye was a neighbor cat at the edge of our yard just checking us out.
    We’ll my lil wiener dog saw him as well and off to the races he went. And of course our other dog saw and just had to join in on the fun, if one goes the other fallows of course.
    We’ll my mom didn’t think about letting go of the leashes so she holds on with a death grip gets ripped right off the porch, gets her first flying lesson somehow is able to move in flight and land on the grass instead of the brick path.
    So my poor mom is on the ground not moving or making noise, my dad and I on the porch trying so hard not to laugh dogs no where to be seen. I go and see if she is ok and all I hear is “Go ahead and laugh” from my mom. She didn’t get hurt, dogs came home after their free romp and last the lil cat is still safe.
    I wish I had be able to record it.

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