Monday, November 19, 2012

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”

I was recently asked how/ why is it Cullen is allowed to do things most dogs are not. My answer came without any questioning, hesitation, or confusion. I spoke with all honestly and simply said “because I trust him”. However, when I think back on this, what is trust all about? What is it worth?

I was able to focus on this thought yesterday as Cullen and I ascended up Pierce and made our way over to Eisenhower. Making our way up the Crawford Path there were no overlooks, opening, or views. We were completely immersed in the unsounded woods, which I didn’t seem to mind one bit. The over press of the fur croft forest around us allowed me to stay focused on my thoughts. With Cullen setting the pace we reached the summit of Pierce in less than two hours. The views for this peak were best just shy of the actual summit. The open ledges provided powerful views of Pierce’s fellow Presidential Range peaks with Jefferson, Adams, and Washington towering over the rest, and beyond doubt dominating the scene. Nevertheless, Eisenhower was the focal point for me.
As I tucked Cull-dog into my fleece to stay warm we sat and ate some lunch, gazing upon Eisenhower’s rounded domed shape summit. The sun was shining bright providing welcoming warmth, a perfect contrast to the cool morning air.

As soon as we were finished with lunch I was all rested up and Cullen was begging to get out and continue onward. As we walked the ridge over to Eisenhower I took several breaks. Not because I needed to, but the views were breathe taking. Valleys of mountains stretch over these lands farther than I could ever imagine. The weather became so warm I stripped down to my base layers and took Cullen’s fleece off. With my ongoing struggle to figure out what real trust was about I decided to sit and fix my eyes on the views before me to reflect. How is it that I can trust Cullen and he trust me? We are not of the same, he is a dog. With that come a lot of differences. We have different emotions, languages, manners, thoughts. Not paying much attention to my surroundings I decided to split from my thoughts to see where Cull was. I found him standing proudly on a rock, his head up high and his chest put out; standing over me, watching over me.

In that exact moment everything became clear. My questions answered by a simple regal pose and a kind gesture. Perfect trust is something that is indescribable. It doesn’t matter how different you are from something else. What matters most is the bond in which you are dedicated to developing and the love you have for one another. When actual trust exists there are no need for words, just the simple look into each other’s eyes or the motion of their body can tell you anything and everything you need to know. I now understand why my answer to that simple question I mention in the beginning came without any hesitation or confusion, because trust should be as pure as the air I breathed into my lungs on top of those mountains.

We shortly reached Eisenhower’s peak where the air became much cooler. We geared back up, ate some food, and took in the panoramic views. No words can justify the beauty these mountains provide. We didn’t stay long, our lollygagging earlier in the day chewed up most of our time. It was going to be a long and hard trek down due to the amount of ice.  Just before our departure, Cullen found his way to the top of the monstrous cairn placed directly in the center on the summit, conquering this mountain even more completely than I had. He stood at the highest section possible making a statement greater than anyone. This Min Pin showed those mountains how brave, dedicated, and worthy he is, unsatisfied with his voyage until his paws made a mark on the highest point possible; a mark he has already made in my life on our voyage for true friendship.          

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”
---George Macdonald

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Best Way To Find Yourself Is To Get Lost

Where would we be without the ones that mean the most to us? Without the ones that raise our spirits higher than we thought possible, but also keep us grounded at the same time. We are truly not ourselves without our loved ones. Without them we would be half alive, our character stuck in the grey. We would yearn for a sense of security but completely unsure where to find it.  We run off of the company of these gifted people or in my case my dog.

Thanks to Cullen’s admirable endurance and natural instinct to explore this land I was once again able to experience what makes this life meaningful. The breeze from the trees providing me with fresh air, the sun’s light providing natural warmth and comfort, and purely the natural beauty this small part of the earth has for me to enjoy. With Cull Dog leading the way and me just following along on my mountain bike we were able to explore the wonders of Clough State Park. The park provided us with a labyrinth of trails, a strong river, a still lake, and views that made you mislay your place in time. We spent hours traveling up river searching for a spot that we could use as a put in for a kayak trip. Cullen and I traveled a wide smooth trail for an hour before it became more narrow giving way to a trail too rough for my bike to ride. I then decided to continue on foot, hiking in the deep woods being sure to make my presence known for any wild animal or hunter that could be around the next turn or behind the next tree.

After hours of searching, Cullen led me exactly to what I have been looking for, the perfect place to start our future kayak trip. With the help of Cull Dog this journey lead us straight to what will be one of our future trips, just as soon as the weather warms up and spring starts to exchange snow for leaves and greener grass. Making our way back to the car I detoured about 100 yards pausing river side. Completely immersed in the wonders of the woods with Cullen; I let go. I loosened my grip of what I considered to be the “real world” and sunk into my own void. The gushing from the river flushed out all of this world’s noise offering me the chance to hear nothing but the flowing of water, crackling of the fire I started moments earlier, and my own breath.

I then realized these are the moments that make life real. It is not the car you drive, the job you have, or the money you spend that creates true existence. It is the moments where you find yourself, when you can accept what is, and thanks to Cullen this is exactly what happened to me out on the bike ride/ hike. This little guy shows me how to be alive, and all I really need to do is let him be himself. To just let him pursue his instincts and do what makes him happy provides me with what I need to do the same. All I have to do is pay attention.                             

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How We Choose To See.

It is not about what we see, but how we choose to see instead…

Most people look at Cullen, my Miniature Pinscher and assume that he is just another small dog. One that is spoiled with ridiculous argyle sweaters, diamond collars, and fed home baked bone shaped cookies. No one expects to see him atop of a 4k mountain, cruising down river on my kayak, or even leading the ways on one of our mountain bike trips. The truth is Cullen does all these things and much more.      

There is no escaping the fact that Cullen is a little dog. He is about 2.5 years old and only weighs 15-16lbs. He stands about 10 inches off the ground and you can pretty much cup his whole head in one hand. His legs are four fragile limbs that most Min Pins can break just from jumping off of a bed. Each time we go to purchase anything for him to wear, whether it is his life jacket, snow suit, or just his bright fleece for hunting season, we are always looking in the small section. To top it all off his breed name even has the word miniature in it. However, all this does not matter in any way.

I was recently on a short hike up Mt. Kearsarge, a smaller mountain that’s a short drive from my home. During this hike I couldn’t help but think of the friendship we have come to build. The friendship we share is pure, true, and wholesome. He is the true kind of friend who is there to share in good times and create lasting memories. Compared to those friends who just want to kill time by listening to me complain only to earn the right to return the favor. The truth is I am past being negative towards life, and Cullen and I have no time to be stagnant to hear anyone else feel sorry for themselves. He is an inspiration and is the main reason behind my ambitions. He pushes me to put more effort in and drives me to never quit. His love and allegiance to me is larger than anything I had ever known.

Cullen is well on his way to breaking the record of being the smallest dog to hike all 48 four-thousand footers of New Hampshire, and this journey is only a stepping stone to the next.

This “little dog” shows more courage than most, loves more than anyone I will ever know, and has more heart than I will ever understand. Maybe to others who do not take the time to understand him he may be just another “little dog” but to me his soul is flooding with the kind of light most can only dream of.  
                                  “Friendship is a single soul dwelling between two bodies” – Aristotle