Walking with the more-than-human: Grabbing our attention

Grabbing our attention


The tip of Lobito’s black tail peeks out of the tall green, yellowy, and brownish native grasslands along the banks of the Merri Creek. As the lead tugs, he moves farther away and disappears under and into the grass. I hope there aren’t snakes.


As if from out of nowhere, bell-like notes saturate this moment. They seem to be close by and are coming from the eucalyptus. They are consistent. How long has this noise been going on? Did it take me a while to notice it? This sound would drive me nuts.


Lobito emerges out from the tall grass, with his nose close to the ground. He is focused with sniffing. His black nose glistens as he continues to sniff. Wait a second… what is that on his nose? Dirt? Part of a spider web? What has he been doing?


A flittering of sorts on the ground catches my eye. Quickly turning my head, another, louder bell-like note from a bellbird distracts me. (Sigh). Where is that bellbird? Is it one, two, several? Where are they?


Someone calls out, “Max! Come here. Max!” I hope he isn’t big.


Lobito is now sniffing around the trunk of a eucalyptus, moving his nose up the hard, compacted, and furrowed bark. To get a better sniff, he places his two small front paws up onto the bark, stretching his entire body farther up the tree. He is alert. He is onto something. His ears are pointed upwards, the long coarse hairs protruding from his small muzzle are alive, and his head is methodically moving back and forth, and up and down the tree trunk. What has this dog found?


Again, there is flittering near the ground. It’s a Willie Wagtail dancing about the brown, eucalyptus leaves. His dance is making a soft crunching sound with the leaves. These are playful, yet naughty little birds. For the briefest moment my body stiffens and I am overcome with dread. I’ve heard that if they dance to you with their tail pointed in your direction that you will have to lay a loved one to rest. I don’t want to know where his tail is pointing, so I quickly turn away.


No longer sniffing, Lobito is standing ever so still. His head is pointed up towards the sky. Then he looks over towards me. Turning away, he begins moving in the direction of the tree again, but stops, and looks away. Something has caught his attention.


As if out of nowhere, the bell-like notes rematerialize. Lobito stops sniffing and looks up towards the eucalyptus branches. Hah! Were we listening together?



What grabs Lobito’s attention?

What grabs my attention?

What grabs our attention?

How is this related to movement?