Rescue Dog: Albie leads a “dog’s life” – in a good way

A "dog's life" lived well: Off-leash in fall’s filagree foliage, rescue dog Albie both gives and gets the gift of irrational exuberance.

Courtesy of the Zheutlin family
Rescue dog Albie hangs out in the car – ready for the next adventure in his “dog’s life.”

Albie, our rescue dog, and I have a favorite place to walk: a beautiful series of trails that run along the Charles River on land owned by the Massachusetts Horticulture Society called Elm Bank. 

RELATED: Top 5 bullying myths - What you don't know about bullying

Now, in autumn, the trails are covered in soft yellowish pine needles and the woods are laced with red, gold, and orange leaves. When the sun filters through the trees, and you see them doubled by their reflection in the water, you feel as though you’ve landed in an impressionist landscape rendered by Monet, or in Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, though I’m not sure Albie fully appreciates nature’s handiwork unless it comes in the form of a small critter he can chase over fallen trees, under bushes and along the river banks.

Albie can go off-leash at Elm Bank (well, technically no, but the rules are flouted by almost everyone with a dog and it’s a popular spot for dog owners and their charges). And once he’s released, all bets are off.

I haven’t seen this kind of irrational exuberance since Alan Greenspan warned that the stock market was getting frothy at around 6,000 on the Dow. He runs with complete abandon; the image of pure, unbridled joy.

When I lose sight of him I worry, but he never fails to return, though he often emerges from the woods from an entirely different location than I expect given his most recently observed trajectory.

He’s also indiscriminate in choosing his spots when he decides to plunge into the river for a drink. He still shows no signs of being able to swim, but he often emerges from some mucky pool covered in mud to his haunches.

From a distance he looks like a yellow lab on top and a black lab below. Then the challenge is to lure him back into a cleaner, free running spot in the river where he can return to his original color before hopping onto the beige leather back seat of my car. 

If I’d known I’d soon have a dog I’m not sure I’d have bought a Volvo with beige leather seats; I probably would have gone with a more rustic vehicle I could have ordered from the Eddie Bauer catalogue.

I think one of the things people love about their dogs is the perspective we get on our own troubles and travails from being with them. A dog’s life seems relatively simple, their needs few, and their joy, when those needs are being met, complete.

RELATED: Are you a 'Helicopter Parent?' take our QUIZ!

The expression, “it’s a dog’s life,” seems at odds with Albie’s reality. But Albie is one of the lucky ones. In the short time he’s been with us we’ve met dozens of rescue dogs – all from the south – and for each one of them now living in comfort and with love, there are dozens if not hundreds more languishing in kill shelters or fending for themselves on city streets or in the wild. For them, “a dog’s life” is no picnic.

For us, Albie is the gift that keeps on giving: every day we derive enormous pleasure from his presence in our family. We give him a lot of love, but he’s given back as much as he’s received and then some.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.