Pippy is a sniffer - hard core. I've never met a dog quite like her. She would spend all morning, noon and night smelling her surroundings. To her, what the world smells like never gets old. You would think that by the 100th time of walking up and down our street she would have had enough of smelling Gloria's (my neighbor across the street) grass. But no. Every single day, without fail, Pippy yanks on her leash to sniff the small clump of grass and dirt around Gloria's mailbox. It just looks like the rest of the neighborhood's dirt to me but to Pippy it is smell-tastic. Maybe she is on to something. Maybe there is buried treasure beneath that unassuming mailbox. Who knows?
What I do know is that Pippy has a curiosity for life. Even the simplest of surroundings, the kind that would pass me by without so much as a second thought, are prime adventure locations for Pippy. Every new place we visit is territory worth exploring.
On our trip from Florida to Erie I witnessed this love of the sniff each time we stopped for a dog potty break. I would pick Pippy up out of the back seat, set her back onto solid ground and she would start to pull and run, nose firmly planted towards the ground. I thought Pippy was strictly Poodle and Schnauzer but I swear to you there is Beagle in there somewhere because when Pippy goes on sniff alert she might as well be in the woods hunting hare. If Britain favored Beagles for their hunting skills and the royals liked them for their petite size and "singing", then they would have loved my Schnoodle. She's small, sometimes noisy and would love the chance to trace the scent of a little critter or a leaf floating by, for that matter. She isn't picky. She'll sniff anything. The Brits would love her.
I think Pippy's stop and sniff breaks kept her excited on our trip home. Every time she exited the car there was a new scent, a new type of grass and an unexplored patch of dirt just calling her name. Watching her overflow with excitement at each new gas station, restaurant or rest stop parking lot made me see highway stops in a whole new light. They are a thrill. They are an adventure.
I know what your thinking: the bathroom at the Pilot gas station on highway 75 in the middle of Kentucky is far from a thrill. You may be right. But don't forget to look at the grass outside. Don't forget to take in the trees, the landscape, the people milling about, the Mom and Pop shop on the corner and the wildflowers in the field across the street. You may not stick your nose to the ground and sniff out the surroundings but being in a new place can still be a chance to explore. All it takes is looking around, breathing in the unfamiliar air, and appreciating the beauty and uniqueness of the new scenery.
Pippy has taught me that I have a tendency to go through life with my nose down, too - but not in a good way. I go on walks and forget to look up. When I'm driving the car for long distances I stop seeing anything but the black pavement beneath me and the cars around me. When I'm riding as the passenger I go for miles and miles without looking out the window. Instead I keep my face in my book, forgetting to take a look at the world whizzing by.
But once again Pippy is teaching me a valuable life lesson. She is teaching me to look up and out. Her innate nature of being a sniffer is showing me what I'm missing in my own life: the curiosity to stop and smell the roses.
As life passes me by I am looking down, only focusing on what is coming next or what my final destination is but in my staunch determination to push forward I miss the wonder of the journey. It is a shame to imagine all the beauty I've already missed along the way. Just this morning I was walking Pippy when I realized I hadn't truly looked up at the sky yet. We were half way through our walk and yet I had been so focused on the path we were walking I didn't even think to take in the world around me. As soon as that thought crossed my mind I looked up to the sky. The clouds were grey and looked ominous. Yet, behind those clouds was a bright blue sky. You couldn't see much of that baby blue but it was there, just waiting to shine through when those pesky clouds would make their way out.
My gaze towards the heavens didn't last long. Only a moment or two. But it made all the difference. It reminded me of my place in this world and the amazing God who weaved together this fascinating creation. A simple glance at the clouds spoke more than a thousand words. It spoke peace and tranquility.
I wonder if that is what Pippy gets when she sniffs. Maybe she, too, is experiencing the wonder of creation and the marvelous design of her Creator. We'll never know what goes through those little doggie minds but I suspect that they are much wiser then we give them credit for. They know how to enjoy the simple treasures of this life when we humans simply let them pass us by. Dogs knows how to appreciate the seemingly unimpressive. They stop for the noteworthy and the not so noteworthy.
There is a lesson in that for all of us. We should all be making time to stop and smell the roses of life. The rose may look like a rest stop on the highway or a lush botanical garden. The rose may be a cloudy sky or a dazzling sunset. The point isn't whether or not it looks grand at first glance. The point of looking up is to experience all that this world has to offer because you never know what God is going to show you.