The days are getting shorter as autumn takes its time in getting here. Our clocks turn back tonight to standard time and that’s when we’ll really notice the downshift to cooler days and nights. After such a hot and humid summer, it’s a very welcome change.

Sydney summers tend to be exhausting for me because of the humidity and heat, both of which wreak havoc on my joints and muscles. My friends here think I’m a bit this side totally nutty to prefer cooler days and nights, but the thing is that you can rug up against the cold mornings and cooler days. It’s pretty difficult to escape the heat or humidity unless you don’t mind sitting in air-conditioned offices all day. Though come to think of it, most of them do … I like this time of year because it’s comfortable to walk in and afternoon walks are especially my favourite because of the way the light changes.

Over the past few months I’ve had the lovely company of my brother’s dog a few times a month and like any four-legged friend, he’s needed walking several times a day to keep his energy from getting too high. Perhaps it’s because he’s still in puppydom, but he recharges so quickly that expending some of that energy is necessary for ensuring my socks, scarves and any other fabric isn’t chewed to bits. It’s been good for me too; the extra exercise combined with going strictly gluten/dairy free has meant 12kg found their way into the ether.

What I’ve found most interesting about our walks though are two things: one it’s improved my energy levels by being consistent about exercising gently and two, it’s been the perfect way to experience what mindfulness is all about in the company of the best kind of teacher.

It’s the second that’s been a really really good reminder to be present. I’ve been slowly developing a mindfulness/meditation practice to be a part of my everyday life because I find that in a world that’s constantly “on”, constantly dragging my attention from pillar to post, it was very hard to be present with so much distraction.  The opportunity to puppy-sit on a regular basis has resulted in a lovely bond between us and I am starting to understand now that sense of unconditional, non-judgmental way of being in the moment that dogs have of experiencing the world. Every day is new, every experience is an opportunity to explore and their energy – their behaviour – is highly influenced by the dynamics of their pack.

Right now, as I sit here rambling away with my thoughts, this golden-haired bundle of warmth is resting his head on my feet, content to just be physically connected to a member of his pack. He doesn’t care about what I’m doing, just that I’m in a balanced state. Because if I’m balanced, then so is he. I remember watching an episode of the Dog Whisperer many years ago where Cesar Milan talked about the impact of energy on a pack, particularly the difference between a calm, assertive leader versus and someone who isn’t consistent or balanced.

There were a few months there when Watson wasn’t in a stable environment as his family broke up and that’s how our regular time together came into being. He needed somewhere to stay for a day here and there, so we provided some doggy day-care. His behaviour and energy regularly got a little out of control but every time he came to us, he returned to his calm, playful self.

The dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behaviour. You have to ask, ‘What am I doing?’ That’s the right question to ask. #CesarMillan

That’s what I found most interesting. Dogs are so capable of forgetting the bad stuff. How many of us use up vast amounts of mental and emotional energy carrying baggage around every day? Just watching him become himself again was beautiful. If we were consistent, calm and projected good energy, so did he.

So as my wee companion on this journey with mindfulness, Watson has proven to be an exceptional teacher. He constantly reminds me that I need to be fully present with him when we are walking to stay in sync. Our walks have taken us to explore many new places in the neighbourhood: down by the river, backstreets I’d never think to drive or walk down, a new route each time to keep it interesting for him. My favourite is taking breaks along the way so I can rest my aching feet. We often sit just at the water’s edge and watch the boats and ferries go by or literally rest on the grass curled up in the warm sun, where I can meditate quietly and he just sits with his head on my lap or feet.

I don’t know how long our sojourns are going to last for, but for now, it’s enough just to experience the world with him.