The other day was a cold, rainy, foggy, dreary day.

A day where going outside really wasn’t much of an option.  It hadn’t quite started to rain yet, but you could see that it was going to start any minute.  I was working from and had a lot to do.  Generally when I work from home, I take a break at some point to take my golden retriever, Youkilis, for a walk.  Yes, he was named after former Red Sox player, Kevin Youkilis, which also means, yes, I had a dog that was named after a Yankees player for 28 games in 2013.  I didn’t hold it against him, nor did he hold it against me thankfully!

We got Youk as a puppy from the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue where my wife had volunteered and served on its board for several years.  His mother was pregnant when she was rescued from a Lancaster County puppy mill and he and his 10 siblings were born in the rescue.  Ever since he was a puppy, Youk loved taking walks.  We had three other dogs when Youk first became part of our family.  Another golden retriever named, Buddy, a yellow lab, named Tucker and a border collie, named Cheyenne.  Youk is the only one that we still have, the rest have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Youk will be turning 11 this coming March 28th but thankfully, he still has the energy of a four year old and looks forward to our walks more than anything in the world other than his breakfast, dinner and treat time.  If I had to guess, we’ve probably logged more than 7,000 miles together and the majority of those miles were more at his urging as opposed to mine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love our walks together, but sometimes, like I said in my last post, just taking that first step can be extremely challenging for me, especially in the winter.

The other day was no different, like I said, it was cold, wet, foggy, and miserable, not to mention that I had a ton of work to do, but none of that seemed to matter to Youk.  I was sitting at my laptop zoned into my work and all of sudden I got the nudge from his cold wet nose on my left arm that disrupted my typing. I rudely pushed him away, and told him to stop. This didn’t seem to faze him too much.  In a matter of about three seconds, he nudged me again, my response was the same.

I said, “No, it is ugly out and I have a lot of work to do.”

Again, this didn’t seem to matter much to him, his persistence was on its “A” game this day.

“It’s going to start raining soon.” I said.

This actually made him even more focused as if he was saying to me, “Exactly Daddy, that’s why we need to go NOW!”

Finally realizing that trying to type with my left hand being lifted up off of the keyboard every 3 seconds wasn’t going to help with my productivity, I might as well give in and go for a walk with him.  I’m far from being fast at typing to begin with, so this was just going to get ugly.

I got up from my desk walked into my room and started to layer up in preparation of our walk.  I was kind of grumpy at the prospect of getting rained on and kept telling him, “If we get rained on, I am not going to be a happy camper!”

Again, he seemed unfazed by the chances of getting wet.  With every layer of clothing that I put on, he just got more and more excited, then as he sees me put my headphones in and head over to the treat jar to grab him his treats that he gets on our walks he turns into a tail wagging bundle of excitement.  We went into the garage and I put his leash on, at this point, he is smiling from ear to ear and spinning circles of excitement as the garage door opens.

We start up the hill and no rain yet.  He is walking on clouds, he won (again) and we’re walking.  As the cold air starts to hit my lungs, clarity starts to overcome me as it always does.  I start praying as I do on our walks with just him and me.  When someone else walks with us, I still pray, but not at the same level as when it’s just Youk and I.  I have a lot on my mind this day, lots of questions and the answers aren’t coming as quickly as I’d like, which is nothing new.  As we walk and I continue to talk to the Lord, peace starts to settle over me.  The air in my lungs, the music in my ears, seeing Youk and how happy he was, even with a cloudy, cold, and foggy day, Youk is able to still find beauty in it.  For him it seems to not be so much about the weather, but more about his company and enjoying the moment.  I don’t always enjoy the moment, I tend to struggle with this concept quite a bit.  I’m either focused on trying to change the past or fretting over the future.  Youk on the other hand, only focuses on this moment, he has mastered this skill, unless it’s close to his meal or treat time.  In those moments he is a bit more focused on the future and can’t wait to enjoy his next meal or treat, outside of that, he has mastered being in the moment pretty well.

As we finished up our walk, we get into the driveway, punch in the garage door code, walked into the garage and the skies opened up with a downpour.  I looked at him as I took his harness and leash off and said, “I guess the Lord told you how much time we had.”

He just smiled at me and went into the house.

After the walk, I was reenergized, even more focused and zoned in on the work at hand.  Youk knew what I needed to have productive day.  He knew that I needed to pray and focus on the Lord for a few minutes.  He knew that I needed to get that air in my lungs and show me that the Lord was looking out for us by having the rain hold off until we finished our walk.  It’s funny how God can use a dog to show me that I need to take a break, take a step back and refocus in order to get even more done.  We don’t always think of things that way.  Stop in order to get more done doesn’t always resonate with humans, I guess that’s why he gave us dogs to remind us of this concept.

Today, on the other hand was a beautiful day. Almost 60 degrees in Pennsylvania in February, a great day for a walk.  The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  We went to lunch with three of our four kids and our 13 year old grand-daughter, Lillian, who lives out above Harrisburg.  At lunch, we decided that Steph and Lillian should come back to the house and walk off lunch with us and Youk before they went home.  Today was a day that I was looking forward to walking as much as Youk was.

We got home and I put on shorts and a sweatshirt for our walk and waited for Lillian and Steph to arrive at the house.


Lillian and Youk with the mountain ridge in the background.

Youk, was just as excited as he always is for a walk.  Lillian wanted to hold his leash today and Youk welcomed the idea.  We didn’t take a super long walk like we did yesterday with just Sandy, Youk and I, but it was still just under 2 miles and we went to a spot where Youk and I have decided to take in God’s beauty over the past few years.  We currently live on a mountain and the route that we took today, takes us to highest point of the mountain, where we stop, he sits and we just look across at the Appalachian Mountains and thank God for allowing us to witness his beautiful creation so often.  I take a few really deep breathes and then we start our descent down and back to the house.  We took the same route on our dreary day walk earlier in the week, could barely see the Appalachian Ridge in the distance, but today, it was clear as ever and breathtaking beyond belief.

As we got back to the house, I realized that Youk’s demeanor today was absolutely no different than his demeanor yesterday or during our walk earlier in the week when the weather was nasty.  He was basking in the moment just as much each time.  For him, the moment had nothing to do with the weather and again, everything to do with the company.  Each walk consisted of different people and he loved every moment equally, he was in his glory, and he was in the moment.

He taught me a lesson today as he has so many times before.  Stay in the moment, enjoy the company.  Enjoy today, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.  All we have is this moment – live it.

Funny to think that we “rescued” him as a puppy, but the truth is, God has been using him to teach us so many lessons about enjoying life and living in the moment that I believe that He has used Youk to actually rescue us.