Tuning-in to the more-than-human




Lobito’s head is bent down towards the ground and moving in different directions. With his nose almost touching the concrete, he sniffs. His small doggy body zigzags first to the right, and then to the left. While lifting his head up, he speeds up, prancing down the street. I pick up my pace and am walking beside him, tuning-in to his doggy rhythms. Suddenly, he lowers his nose to the concrete and sniffs. Again, his tiny dog body moves in all sorts of unpredictable directions, making it impossible to know where his sniffing will take us.


It is before dawn, and a cool dampness touches my arms and legs. It is too dark to see down the laneway. I work at staying focused on Lobito’s movements and keeping a loose lead between my big human body and his tiny dog body. When he stops, I stop. When he starts, I start. When he sniffs, I watch. There is a lot of stopping and starting and waiting and crisscrossing.


Lobito is drawn to corners, long grass, fences, low-growing groundcover, tree trunks, food scraps, and leaves. Tuning-in takes effort and attention. Feeling a slight pull from the lead, I realize that my mind wandered and I momentarily took my eyes off Lobito. His body is pulling towards the dark laneway. My body resists for a slight second and then I follow.


Tuning-in is risky. Walking across cobbled bluestone, with the lead held loosely in my hand, Lobito intensely sniffs all sorts of matter. While tuning-in to how this small dog smells and maneuvers his body, the tip of my right foot lands on something soft. It doesn’t feel quite right. It is not the flat and hard surface of stone. Instead, it is lumpy, springy, and a bit soft. I am unsure what the lump might be. “Is it leaves?” “Trash?” ”Poo?” Blue-grey feathers catch my eye. Immediately my body recoils. In disgust I close my eyes, jump away, and yell out, “Ooh, yuck!” I open my eyes, take a deep breath, and turn around. There is a slight tug from the lead. I look down and Lobito is sniffing the dead pigeon body. I am intrigued, and a little bit grossed out. I turn to leave. And just as I am about to pull the lead, moving Lobito’s body away from the dead pigeon body, I drop the lead, tuning-in to see what happens.