Adventures

Lately, Max has been very eager to go on new adventures. I have to be careful when opening the back door, because he has developed a habit of sneaking out past me, sprinting to the car, and then sitting behind the car expecting to go somewhere with me.

Even when I am on my way somewhere else, he will persistently sit behind the car so that I cannot get out of the driveway. He seems committed to keeping me home or going with me. (It’s cute until he lays down and literally has to be dragged back in the house…)

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While Max has always liked going new places, he has not always like the car. It still takes me by surprise when he is ready to jump in the back even before I open the door. Moreover, many of the trips he actually gets to take are not that rewarding, often ending either at the vet or with a bath.

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And yet last week Max got a true adventure. We loaded up and went out to a fun 3k walk with dogs and humans on the other side of town. Max was thrilled to step out of the car onto new ground, to walk across sidewalks with new smells, and to gaze out at the city from a new angle.

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The adventure was hot and an unnecessary hassle, but Max taught me how exciting and important it is to get out of our little corner of the world and experience something new. Where we live now, it is easy to walk just about anywhere we need to go. Such proximity is wonderful and I love the sense of groundedness I feel being so physically close to the neighborhood. But the major downside to this arrangement is that we can get more secluded from all that is going on just a couple miles away.

And so Max has taught me to wait eagerly for opportunities and to take the initiative to experience a different corner of the world. Even when it is not convenient, Max has taught me the value of interacting with people I normally wouldn’t in a neighborhood I sometimes forget is close by.

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Max has reminded me of the importance of stretching out to new neighborhoods with an attitude of openness and excitement to learn something new from them. It is easy to get into a trap of only going to new places in order to find a quick spectacle to cherish. And yet, I don’t think that is what Max is doing. Max gets excited about such adventures because of the natural beauty of diversity. He has taught me to go into these adventures intentionally breathing in the fullness of the place and allowing it to impact me for the better. It’s a skill to develop, but one we are starting to practice more.

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Max has taught me the value of breaking routine and breaking through unintentional boundaries to get a fresh perspective on myself and the world around me. He has taught me that while the fenced-in backyard is safe and provides its own sense of value, it doesn’t fulfill that part of us that needs connection with other places and people.

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And ultimately Max has taught me that such new adventures require running out the door with hopeful excitement, interrupting the normal flow of my life, and being open to taking in all the new things I can learn from being in a new place.

So, thank you Max for being so eager to go on new adventures. Thank you for pulling me out of the routine of my life and teaching me to be open to all the new experiences around us. I hope that our adventures allow us to authentically grow and connect with the world and with one another, and that there is no shortage of them.

Change

Max and I just moved to a new apartment. It has been a stressful process, but also an exciting one. And I learned that in many ways, Max does not deal well with change.

Max’s uneasiness was amplified because the moving process drug out over a couple of weeks. I slowly packed things up until there was one tiny maze through my apartment to get anywhere. Max could tell something was going on but he didn’t know what.

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I could see the anticipation turn quickly into anxiety as Max continued to live in an unresolved state. He did not know what was happening and was not getting any answers.

Max taught me that my own stress was centered in trying to live in that unresolved state. I wanted to move and get everything situated so that I could get on with things, but since my life couldn’t pause for that transition, I had to plow ahead bit by bit and deal with the piles of boxes.

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Max’s uncertainty persisted even when we finally made the move over. When I came back home from work the first day in the new place, he stuck to me like glue for most of the evening. The poor guy just couldn’t figure it all out and was trapped in a state of uncertainty and unfamiliarity.

But eventually he calmed down and he taught me several very important things about dealing with change and uncertainty.

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First, Max taught me that it is normal to feel uncomfortable with change. The stress and worry are natural because even the little changes can make a big impact. However, he also taught me that I need not stay in a perpetual state of stress. Change is exciting and can bring growth when it is encountered in certain ways.

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So, Max also taught me that the best way to move past the stress and worry is to find solace by seeking comfort in a friend. Max depended on my presence much more than normal to assure himself that things were going to be all right.

This lesson struck me because I think I often seek solace in trying to cling to whatever familiarity I had before a change. The times I’ve moved I have looked back from where I came and tried to be comforted by those memories rather than depending on a loved one to help me be more comfortable in the place I am now. But Max has taught me that the best way to deal with change is to face the unfamiliar head on accompanied by a friend on whom you can depend.

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FInally, Max taught me again to look at new opportunities as adventures to be explored. I know I have a heart set on adventure and exploration, as does Max, but we both were a little timid that first day after the move. It is scary going into a new place and being the stranger. But after the first day here, we decided to embrace the unknown with an attitude ready to learn more about it rather than fear it.

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While Max taught me that it is normal to be worried by change, he also taught me how to deal with it in a more hopeful and meaningful way.

So thank you Max for making this move with me and for teaching me how to deal with change. Thank you for being my companion and helping relieve some of my stress. And thank you for already embarking on an exciting new adventure with me.

Max’s All You Need to Know Guide to Fun in the Sun

School’s out, summer is upon us, and I am sure you are wondering: “What can I do to enjoy these long sunny days?”

Well, never fear! Max has just compiled an all you need to know guide for having fun in the sun this summer. Taken from his expertise in turning anything into a family friendly adventure, Max reinvents the word “fun” in these classic outdoor activities.

Doggy paddle your way over to the nearest swimming hole and take a dip

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Hardcore Barkour!

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Retrieve that inner kid and relive the golden years at the park

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Hardcore Barkour!

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Ultimutt Frisbee!

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Hardcore Barkour!

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Game, set, snatch! Tennis, fetch, it’s all the same – he’ll retrieve anything you serve up.

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Hardcore Barkour!

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You may be thinking, “That kind of sounds fun, but I don’t really like nature and planned to stay indoors all summer.” Well, you are in luck! Max has just extended his all inclusive summer guide to include these activities for you too!

Max out your TV time and catch up on some wonderfur new shows

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Howl along to your favorite tunes

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Get your paws on a fun board game!

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Or just take a dog nap (much more social than a cat nap)

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So, don’t let the dog days of summer get you down! Get pupped up with any of these fun activities! And as always, stay cool!

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Canine Diem

Max and I have been stuck at home more often than normal this week on account of the ice and snow. And since Max is sadly not very snuggly, we’ve had to find some other activities to occupy our time.

Thankfully, Max loves the snow. He gets so excited to get out and run around on it that he often pulls me slip-sliding along behind him.

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And because there are few other people or cars out, we are usually able to go to an open space where I let him off his leash so that he can really have fun.

In these moments Max demonstrates what it means to make the most of an opportunity. He seizes the moment and has as much fun as he possibly can. He doesn’t get let off leash much because of where we live, so he goes all out when he does get to run free.

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And in doing so, Max has taught me the importance of making the most of any opportunity, even if it is a cold, snowy, wet one. I enjoy the snow too, but it is easy to get bummed about missed opportunities of seeing friends because of things outside of my control. Then there’s Max, frolicking and having a grand time in circumstances that are literally causing a mess, and I am caught up in his joy.

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But I also realize that Max is not just seizing moments when big important things are at stake. These are everyday things of running around and enjoying his life. Granted he doesn’t get off leash much outside, but his joy and dedication to making the most of any situation is consistently evident.

Max has taught me to see each moment as an opportunity to experience life in a joyfully free manner, whether that is running crazily through snow, resting warm at home, or just breathing in the fresh air of any given day. He has taught me to seize the moment – both those big important ones that change my life, but also the little ones that impact me in a more mundane way.

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And he has shown me that in seizing each of these everyday moments I create a life of fullness in which joy and meaning are realized regularly. In sun, snow, busyness, or stillness there is a moment to be seized.

So thank you Max for teaching me to appreciate every moment and to make the most of them. And thank you for teaching me not to wait for the perfect weather or circumstances to look for and create meaning in my life.

Fascination

I am fascinated by this new method of sitting on the couch…

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But, more to the point, Max and I have now walked every path surrounding our apartment many, many times. I am glad there are many options, but after several months we have exhausted any new places in walking distance.

And that bothers me because I really like new adventures. I like seeing new places and doing new things. About the only thing I could do everyday is watch the sunset and drink jasmine green tea.

Yet, I still have to walk Max and there’s only so far we can go.

But Max has a different outlook on these walks.  No matter how many times we walk by the same patch of grass or the same tree, he is endlessly fascinated by it.  So much so that I often have to drag him away.

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How can he have such wonder at something so mundane? How can the same thing, day after day, still capture his attention?

As I thought more about how he gives himself over to such fascination, I began to realize that there is always new beauty and new adventure in every moment, in every blade of grass or tiny snowflake.

You don’t have to go to Hogwarts to find magic, for it pervades the world.  You don’t have to travel to the Lonely Mountain to find adventure – it bubbles up throughout Middle Earth, even in the Shire. (Though don’t get me wrong, if I had the chance to go to Hogwarts or the Lonely Mountain, I wouldn’t hesitate.)

Moreover, Max has helped me realize that fascination keeps us from being arrested in our routines. We may still do the same things, but they have the potential to be interesting in new ways everyday.  And because things fascinate us, we explore their intricacies, which leads to inspiration and innovation.  For without a fascination with the key of D flat major would we ever have gotten…

(Or, fill in with whatever great composition you prefer.)

Instead of trudging along or blindly pushing past meaningful people, events, and things, fascination leads us further up and further in!

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So thank you Max for not only being fascinating, but also teaching me to take notice of what is around me, to allow fascination to rise within me.  Thank you for teaching me to look for and expect the wonder, beauty, and life that is everywhere in this world we inhabit – especially in the paths I walk everyday.