I had a lovely weekend. I also did not turn my computer on once. Correlation does not imply causation, of course, but… I do think the two things are related.

On Saturday morning, Sophie and I went on the pack walk with our next-door neighbor, three of her dogs, and about six or so other people, all with their associated dogs. The pack walk happens every Saturday, leaving from a local church, and walking through a nearby rural area, along fields of wildflowers and cows. It’s such a beautiful area that most of the time when I’m walking there, I have at least one moment of thinking, ‘I can’t believe I get to live here.’ Saturday was no exception.

After the pack walk, we went to the farmer’s market. When you picture the ideal farmer’s market, the television stereotype of a farmer’s market, with local produce, friendly familiar faces, interesting foods, occasional crafts, all set in a small town square with cute shops, you’re picturing the Arcata’s farmer market, with the exception of the fact that the weather is not always obliging. Saturday’s weather, however, was completely obliging. Still cold, but sunny and with hints of spring in the air.

Saturday afternoon, I played ball with Sophie and read books.

Sunday, I played ball with Sophie and read books in the sunshine. It was such a nice day — okay, still probably not more than 60 degrees, but so much nicer than it has been! — that I sat outside on the back patio and appreciated the weather, basically all day long. Every time I thought about going inside, I reminded myself of the weather forecast for the upcoming week: storms, hail, freezing rain. It was my chance to enjoy outside, so I took full advantage.

For dinner, I made homemade sushi. I’m out of practice and my rolls were not as tight as they should have been (also I should have sharpened my knife before trying to cut through the nori) but it was still delicious. Then Suzanne and I took the dogs off to Hiller Dog Park and let them run like crazy until it started to get dark.

It was just a peaceful, pleasant, homey weekend. No adventure, no excitement, but nice from beginning to end.

Now, of course, it’s Monday, so I feel that I should be being productive, working hard, making progress in life. Monday, in Japanese, sounds sort of like “get-su-yobi,” which I remember by thinking of it as “gets-you” moving day. Am I likely to actually get moving? Eh, it’s possible. Although given that it’s already past 1, and I haven’t eaten lunch or taken Sophie for her lunch-time outing, it’s starting to feel unlikely. Still, I’m at least thinking about it, and hey, I’ve turned my computer on, so that’s always a good start.

My big achievement of the last few weeks hasn’t actually been my achievement at all: Sophie Sunshine is becoming a very successful off-leash walker. I’m still bribing her to keep her attention, but most of the time these days, I don’t put a leash on her while we walk to our local park, the one that can be reached via lightly trafficked roads. She stays within two sidewalk squares of me, pauses on the corners until I tell her we can cross, and is very responsive and attentive, turning and checking in with me every few steps. I’m so proud of her. That said, as soon as her bestie (Bear) appears, she forgets everything she knows, so we won’t be throwing away her leashes anytime soon. (Also, of course, in situations with traffic, busy roads, or lots of people/other dogs, I’d be keeping her on-leash anyway, for safety.)

Still, it definitely feels like an accomplishment to have reached this level of trust with her. It’s also fascinating to me how it seems to have changed our relationship in Sophie’s eyes. I think she trusts me more because I am trusting her more. The most concise way I can explain it (having just deleted a whole bunch of incoherent words) is that Sophie seems to have decided that we’re on the same team now, in a way that we weren’t (to her) a few months ago. And this is still feeling incoherent. It’s not that she obeys me more readily, it’s that she’s paying attention to me differently. I used to say about Zelda that she would do anything I wanted, if she could just figure out what it was. Sophie has never had that quality; she is much more independent and skeptical. Very, “You want me to sit? What’s in it for me?” And now, even though I am still giving her plenty of treats and rewarding her for doing things that I want her to do, her attitude feels more like, “Oh, I see this is important to you, okay, sure, I can do this.” Although maybe I’m just anthropomorphizing based on the fact that she’s snuggling with me more than she used to. Bear’s always been a good snuggler, but Sophie is becoming a good snuggler.

That said, she’s an even better ball player and she is staring at me now with that delightful dog intensity, telling me that lunch-time outing should have happened a long time ago, so… time to go play.