Sometimes I think there's something about having a dog that makes you ... rather territorial? Not necessarily in the aggressive 'get out of my space' way, but just in the possessive 'this is my space' kind of way?

It's just, the places where you walk your dog, they're your places. I've been feeling that really strongly since I came home from college five years ago. The hill above my town where I walk my dog, that is my hill. I know every inch of that hill, I know every trail and rabbit run and patch of rock. I've been dragged down every possible slope of that hill. I know every place along the paths where I can pull in to let other dogs pass. I know every other dog who'll need a bit of space to be let pass. Half my social circle are other people who walk their dogs on that hill. My sister got a line on a job from a man who walks his dog on that hill. It's just ... it's my hill. That is my hill. Every time I look at that hill, from across the town, from ten miles away along the valley coming back from work, I see the hill and I know it, the bone-deep way you know a place that belongs to you. There's just ... does English have a word for it? The sense of place, the place that means home, the way you look at a place and know that every bit of it belongs to you.

But it isn't just the hill. There are two beaches within twenty minutes drive from us, where we walk the dog, and they're ours too. And the woods, the woods where we learned to climb trees as kids, the woods where we walk our dog again now, they belong to us too.

I don't know how much of that is the dog and how much is just naturally developing a sense of home, but I think ... The thing with having a dog, with walking the dog, is that you do it every day. And, okay, our dog does two days down the beach a week, one or two days out the woods, and the rest up the hill or on the roads around the hill. There's some variety. But. You walk those paths over and over again. You walk them every day. You meet the people on them every day. When you have a dog, when you walk your dog, you walk your territory. Every day. You know the place in every weather, every light, because the dog needs walking regardless of whether it's rain, snow, shine or apocalypse out there. You know which bits you have to pay attention for and which bits are safe enough that you could switch your brain all the way off and do it in your sleep, and as time goes on even the dangerous bits are nearly safe enough to do that, because you know them. It just ... It makes it yours. It makes it yours in a way that's hard to explain.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just naturally territorial myself, but I do think having a dog makes it more so. Walking the dog is walking your territory. The place where you walk your dog is your home.
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