Absorbed by nature and doing his thing. In a magic forest in the province of Södermanland. Summer of 2015.
He loved the woods, and once he set his paws on a forest path, you could be sure of being ignored; for the rest of the hike he was mostly in his own world and (I presume) at one with nature. For an otherwise highly social dog, he then became remarkably uninterested in social interaction with the human race, least of all with me; but of course, I was more like an old piece of furniture that, for some unfortunate reason, had become his fate and he had to drag along with him. Luckily, despite being unbearably dim and hopeless, I was able to carry snacks, which worked to my advantage because sooner or later the needs of a civilized city dog began to compete with the instincts of a dog, a small hunter and a wolf, who was a being of nature, albeit one attached to a bipedal laggard by a flexi-leash.
We usually spent a minimum of three hours a day outdoors, unless the weather was absolutely atrocious (with age, he found bad weather less and less tolerable). Often more. Every now and then we spent the whole day in a forest somewhere. Those were almost always wonderful days — he did his thing, and I assume, by the look of things, that it pleased him. Tracking, scenting, experiencing a world that is as imperceptible to us humans as is, one must assume, the supersensible realm to the logical, rational mind (– or whatever, and if it existed). Travelling far away from the world of abstractions that people like me are destined for since childhood and into a world of direct experiences and of weak human senses pulling themselves out of sleep slowly, very slowly, to glimpse something of what is there: not that many elemental beings, I hesitate to admit, but quite a few supersensible rabbits.
This pleasure with him is gone. Habits tend to stick, so I still go out, I maintain our routines, except the short morning walk around two neighbouring blocks. But it does seem strange: what on earth is this human being — walking, for the sake of walking itself, without a dog? Such an unnatural act. It’s like doing something just slightly forbidden or immoral; there’s hint of shamefulness to it. The pavements should be spared; they’re there for usefulness and for useful people (and dogs), not for idle walking without a meaning, a purpose or a cause.
I have yet to go on a hike in the woods without him. I long for it, but my experience of the forest is connected to that of being a more or less passive follower of the dog experience that my human mind can’t understand — and without a dog, how do you go about it? Dogs are natural forest beings. They know through instinct what it’s all about, unlike us — confused and with a vague scent of something in our noses, at best, but without any sort of meaningful framework for interpreting it, if indeed we sense anything at all. He helped me to love the forest more, because my eyes saw something through his nose.