In The Social Lives of Dogs, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas recalls this experience:

“While doing fieldwork with wild animals in Namibia, I once watched a lion watch a sunset. He was alone on open ground near a waterhole, crouched but relaxed, propped on his elbows, and from the time the sun was about five degrees above the horizon until the last red bit of it went down, he didn’t take his eyes off the spectacle. At the very last minute, he roared at it, or anyway, he roared while looking at it, not just once but four or five times, very loudly.”

Cheeva watching sunrise

I have my own sun-watching creature (a quiet one) . My new dog Cheeva is turning into quite the laid-back nature observer. She didn’t start out that way. The first time she set foot in her new yard there were far too many things that looked like prey. She’s a hunter after all. Squirrel!  Cardinal!  Tall bird in the water!  Off she went every time, almost pulling my arm out of its socket.

With a little patience, she’s turning into a different animal. I started talking to her very softly, narrating the scene every morning. That blue/gray flying stick is Great Blue Heron, showing up for the sunrise, perching on the almost-too-small-for-him pine branch. Look and don’t chase.

I think the positive instruction and her owner’s calm demeanor  worked on her, and one morning she just sat down right next to me to watch everything unfold. She now sits in contemplation almost every morning. She only bolts for a loud crow that likes to tease her from the red maple. (I praise her for chasing the annoying crow.)

Some mornings I’m too busy to sit out for very long. I try to find time later, and sometimes include Little Girl in the afternoon for a little nature watching. Cheeva seems to appreciate the time outdoors and the human company. She hasn’t roared yet, but she nods approvingly.

Advertisements