My walking buddy smells a little, sheds a lot, and relieves herself along the trails – but I adore her all the same. Nikita is my son’s dog and I have taken to planning my week days and work schedule to fit in dog walks and swims while son is at work. She is always thrilled to see me regardless of time, weather, or politics. Dogs take being in the moment to a whole new level. Her entire world is reduced to the latest smells on the trail, the possibility of a squirrel in the forest canopy, or whether or not I decide to throw a stick. It doesn’t even matter how far the stick goes. Everything is wonderful all the time. What happened 5 minutes ago no longer matters. Perfect. And she hasn’t a clue about 5 minutes from now. Fantastic. What truly, madly, deeply matters is now. I love that. I need that. So, with a brilliant sense of freedom, I adjust my physical and mental gait to roll on this gentle wave of contentment. Nikita is my meditation. By the end of our jaunt we are refreshed, exercised, any rough edges gently sloughed off. My canine training mate is my spa, my yoga class, and fitness rolled into one and wrapped up with unwavering affection. Thank you dear Nikita, you are 90 pounds of happiness!