Sunday, December 04, 2016

A dog, a phone, and what it takes to feel secure

Riding shotgun
London, ON
October 2016
Having a dog in the family means ritual is king. The cadence of the day is set in stone, from mealtimes and walks to playtime and, in Frasier's case, managing his insulin shots and every other requirement of a diabetic furball. Even leaving the house is a process, and what I take with me before we step out the door is as preordained as the dance he does when his internal clock tells him it's time to head out.

Some might call this mundane. I call it comforting, the soothing order of things that are more felt than said. We may not speak a common language, but in those familiar moments inside the front door as we get ready for our walks, I feel strangely connected to this little guy, as if we understand each other in ways that extend well beyond mere language.

One of my must-haves before we take a walk is my smartphone. I suppose that's an obvious one given what I do. But there's more to it, because I take it everywhere with me not because I want to fiddle with it while we're out - it typically stays, ignored, deep in my pocket, because you only get so many dog-walks in life - but because I'm afraid to be without it. After my run-in with the universe - click here if you're just joining us - I became fearful of being cut off, of not having a lifeline, of something happening and no one else knowing.

For the longest time, I wouldn't lock doors behind me. I still text my wife to let her know when I leave and when I get there. After I recovered and started venturing back into the real world, on my first solo trip by train to Toronto for meetings - a mere two hours east of here - I spent the day freaked out that my phone battery would somehow fail before I got back.

So imagine my surprise when we got a couple of blocks away from home before I realized my pocket was empty. My first reaction was a skipped heartbeat as it dawned on me that we were completely on our own. Sure, we were seven minutes away from the house, but it still felt impossibly far away.

As I fought the urge to scoop Frasier up and double-time it back home, I began to wonder why I had been so set in my ways up until this day, why I felt every moment had to be experienced with a fully charged smartphone always within arm's reach. And why that had all changed simply because I ripped an artery in my neck.

I stopped myself from panicking on the sidewalk, and continued walking away from home, along the path we originally intended to take. Eventually we got home. Nothing happened, of course, and the next night the phone somehow didn't make it into my pocket before we headed out.

I'll always wonder whether or not I need it, always pause when I think about what may or may not happen when I'm on my own, away from home. But the seemingly trivial fact I'm now willing to head out the door without an electronic tether every once in a while, that slight modification to my once-inviolable "rules of flight", seems to resonate more in my head than it probably should.

I guess run-ins with the universe come with their own rules, and it's perfectly fine if we spend endless amounts of time afterward trying to figure them out.


Bob Scotney said...

For 11 years since my stroke I'm not'allowed' out without my phone. One the occasions when I 'forget' to take it I have never needed it. However I still feel naked when I don't have it with me.I can understand your feelings when you discovered it was missing.
However I'm sure Frasier would know what to do in the event of a problem.

Muse & Views Bookclub said...

Max does tend to keep us on schedule, it walking time, it is "feed me" time and it is play time "Here is my toy, get down on the floor with me!"

Not having had my own "run in with the universe" I don't tend to bring my phone or even identity with me when I go walking my dog.However, my husband, who has had a "run in with the universe" brings phone and identity with him all the time and scolds me when he sees me leave with essentially no identifiy But Max has his dog tags and identity always!

I am happy to see you use a harnness for Frasier in the car. Wouldn't want to see him flying into the windshield or the back of your head if you have to brake fast! Have a great week!

Tabor said...

So, it was a bit of an addiction?

Pat Tillett said...

I totally agree with you about leaving the house without my smartphone. It's not because I get or send texts, because I never want to be reached that easily. It isn't because of the phone, because I really don't talk on the phone that often. Mine is totally about the camera. I HATE not having a camera of some sorts, at all times. Also, except for the limited memory, today's phones are better than old computers!

The routine of having a dog, is part of why I'm a cat person now (still love dogs though). I used to always say that, but these days one of our cats is diabetic and needs two injections a day. That is a total routine. So much so, that he has to travel with us.