Part of the reason Jason started hiking in the beginning was because we have this dog. Buck. He’s a rescue with separation anxiety issues; severe separation anxiety. A Plott hound, we suspect he was maybe a hunting dog or a farm dog. He exhibits those behaviors, like the time at the Christmas tree farm we heard gunshots from the next farm over and he sat up straight and focused.
He hates outside, except on the leash.
But he loves the woods. He will go forever and never wants to stop and turn around. Many of the trails we hike are ones that you walk in on, then turn around and walk back. The turnaround spot often requires some … coaxing.
Buck insists on being in the front of the party. It’s his job. He seems to see himself as our guide. He’s good at it.
He follows the clear path of the trail well. He seems to instinctively know where the good footing is even when it’s muddy or questionable. He may go to the side to check something out, but he hurries back to be in the front and lead the way.
Recently, Jason and I were hiking and he saw some mushrooms down the hill he wanted to look at. We were at the spot where we were going to turn around to go back. Now, I have little interest in going down a hill I’m immediately just going to have to walk back up, so we agreed that I’d turn around and follow the trail heading out and that Jason and Buck would catch up.
I wasn’t walking very fast, but I walked steadily. At some point I realized that I’d gone farther than expected. I stopped and looked out over the lake (not a hardship) and waited. I heard Jason call, “Dawn, call the dog.” So I did. Along they came.
Buck was looking for me. He didn’t want to leave without me. Like a good guide, he made sure his followers weren’t abandoned in the woods.
As a teacher, am I being a good guide? Am I following the proper paths, walking in the right spots, keeping my people together and not losing them in the woods?
As a reader, am I following good guides? Am I following proper paths, walking in the right spots, keeping up with the guide? Am I finding trustworthy guides to begin with? Ones that won’t leave me in a murky, unsettled place or abandoned in the woods and confused.
When have roles of leading and of following, it’s good to make sure we can walk the path.