What gets your attention? (Or: Why My Dog Isn’t As Dumb As I Sometimes Think)

We’ve got this dog, Brandi, and she’s pretty awesome. Sometimes, though, I think she can be pretty dense.

We will go for a walk at night and I’ll hear stuff rustling about in the bushes and she’s like, “hmm, smells like someone peed here earlier today, maybe I should, too.” In the meantime I’m like, “What’s in the bushes?” 

This morning, though, it was quiet out. I could neither hear nor see anything worth losing my composure over. Brandi, however, saw things differently. She kept stopping and looking at the same place. We’d walk a little bit, she’d stop again and turn around. Very unusual behavior for her. She wasn’t getting worked up like she does when she spots a pigeon or rabbit or squirrel. No, this was an attentive, curious, but unalarmed, awareness of something.

I never figured it out, despite taking five minutes to walk the length of one lot while she kept stopping and turning around. While I was trying to figure out what had her acting this way, another part of me started to take a different look at things.

My attention is easily captured by noisy things. When the world around me starts to “rustle in the bushes” and make a big fuss over something, my attention is captured. Sometimes I recognize it for the junk it is (say, a television show about beaches near Atlantic City and the people who live there) and other times I get excited about it (hey! Did you know Congress hasn’t passed a budget in THREE years!).

I guess there are reasons for either example — and a million others — to capture our attention for a short span, or a long one in some cases. What remains, though, is the fact that this noisy stuff often captures my attention at the expense of the quiet.

A sadness in the eyes of one of my children.

My wife isn’t talking. Or singing.

The still, quiet voice of God.

Yeah, I wish I could be more like Brandi and ignore the noise and pay attention to what really matters.


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