Most people are familiar with the expression “canary in the coal mine”, where the canary was literally the harbinger of death for miners. Gloomy, I know.
I’m wondering, though, is there a metaphor that means the opposite? So an indicator of something full of life, joy and wonderment? Something that, like the poor canaries, has a certain predictive reliability to it? I searched Google (albeit briefly) and didn’t see anything, so I’ve taken the liberty to create one: “dogs in the car just before reaching the forest.” What? A bit long? Got it. How about just “dog in the forest”?
It occurred to me (again) last week when taking our dogs to one of the County of Simcoe Forest tracts that the dogs sense and anticipate the physical and mental benefits of being in the forest. With a kilometre or two to go before reaching the trailhead, both Kula and Ziggy started whining, howling and barking joyfully (and rather loudly in a closed van). I think the expression I used was “They’re losing their minds…”
At home, if I say, “Do you want to go for a walk?”, they’re excited for sure. But not this level of excited. This is something else. Sure, there are new trails to explore, new smells to savor, new varieties of grass to sample, new mud puddles to lie down in (and roll around and around and around…),so I get that novelty = excitement thing.
But then I started wondering, do dogs sense something more? Do they know intuitively what we’re just starting to understand? That forests are mental and physical health recharging stations. Perhaps their senses, un- or less-dulled by all of our electronics, conveniences and urban environments, tune in to the serenity frequency emitted by trees. Not only are they our best friends, dogs may also be our most reliable guides to the best Shinrin-Yoku or forest-bathing sites.