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My dog is a winter dog. Teegan thrives in the cold and dislikes the heat of summer.

A German Shorthaired Pointer, she’s a bird dog bred to stalk and chase, and she can go all day long in the field ferreting out anything with feathers that would rather stay hidden.

She is single-minded in her pursuit—when she locks onto something, her focus is intense, and she will drive her body as hard as she needs to in pursuit of her goal: catching that prey. It’s a joy to watch her in action, precisely because she finds so much joy in stalking and chasing.

Teegan’s joy is infectious, a sweet reminder of the importance of doing what you love every day.

We walk her off-leash at least twice a day to allow her to run free and connect with this drive that is such an ingrained part of her, that allows her to be her full, happy self.

These are some of my favorite parts of my day, walking her and watching her doing what she loves most.

All that single-minded focus, running through woods and fields, leaping over obstacles, exploring lairs and dens and holes—it burns up a lot of energy. When she traps something, or catches and kills it, and the hunting trance is broken, she relaxes, coming back into her body to recover.

To recover, Teegan needs to lower her heart rate, breathe deeply, and cool her body back down.

Dogs, however, don’t cool down the same way humans do. Humans cool down by sweating; it’s the process of sweat evaporating off our skin that creates cooling. Dogs can’t access this cooling ability due to their fur, which traps the sweat and prevents it from evaporating. Instead, dogs pant, allowing a rush of air into their mouths, noses and lungs to run over the wet, moist lining of their insides, taking advantage of the same kind of evaporation that cools us down.

Teegy takes the cooling process one step further. In winter, she rolls in snow. In warmer weather, she wades into water—a particular favorite of hers is the river that runs by our house. Our walks always end with some sort of self-care on Teegan’s part—we break for a roll in the snow or a dip in the river, before shaking off and heading back home.

This lesson she teaches me every day: do your work, do it with drive and focus, do it with joy, do it to the best of your ability. Then, know when to stop, recover, and take care of yourself. I don’t need to roll in snow or wade into a river, but Teegan reminds me to pause, breathe deeply, and do those things that help me renew, recharge, and restore myself before gathering my energy to do it all over again.

Heather Shaff

Heather is a book designer based in Boston who, when she’s not writing or taking care of the fam, can be found racing her bike, enjoying nature, or just daydreaming.

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