‘What are you looking at?’

When it’s early in the day, and I’m feeling energetic, I like to take an extended walk around a two mile loop near our home in Kyle. Goldie and I walk down Moore Street, in front of the library, to Opal, turn left and go home by way of Sledge Street. 

There is much to love about this walk; we see workers toiling away at sewer repairs near the library, and we greet library patrons as they enter or leave this wonderful hall of learning.  But most of all, we pass an actual ranch off of Sledge St. The first time Goldie saw the cows she barked, as is her want, being a cow dog. The next time we passed by, she simply sat there and observed these beautiful creatures – white, brown, spotted and red, all with their horns shorn. Goldie has received no training working these cows; in fact, I’m not sure what a ‘cow dog’ does. But in my mind’s eye I see her herding them, nipping at their heels, and expertly avoiding a thrown horn or a swift kick.  

At other times she will often make a lunge at a bush or a leaf, peering into the thicket, into brush that is too thick for me to see anything. At those times I simply ask her, “What are you looking at?” Again, my imagination takes over, and I think she’s seeing a squirrel, or mouse, or chipmunk and wants to go chasing after it. Other times, knowing how she likes to bark at nothing in particular, I get the impression she’s just exercising her God-given talent for searching, sniffing, and lunging just because it’s so much fun!

In this age, when so much of what we grew up believing is being questioned, when some of our most cherished understandings about how life is supposed to be are now found wanting, the phrase, “What are you looking at?” becomes apropos. We have looked at the human race in one way for a long time, and just now, we are being challenged to see it in new ways. It’s amazing to me – for instance to look at some of my favorite TV shows, like NCIS – and wonder why the new character has to be a cute little blonde, when the character she is replacing was a mysterious olive-skinned Jew.  

Half of what Goldie is looking at does not exist. She’s looking for what she wants to see. She hasn’t found it yet. But also, she is practicing for the time she will find something. We have a mouse in our house. Goldie has found it more than once, but I don’t think a dog will be able to catch a mouse. Cats know how to go into stealth mode to sneak up on their prey. Dogs bark. Thus giving away any surprise they might have achieved. 

It is my hope that we as a species will continue to look for ways to connect to those who are different from us. It is my prayer that we keep looking and do not close ourselves off from the diverse world around us. And that we can do that without prejudice or hatred.  We can hope, can’t we?


Mark W Stoub, a retired Presbyterian minister, lives in Kyle with his wife, Janie (Sledge) Stoub, and their Catahoula mix, Goldie.  He is the author of an Angus McPherson mystery “Blood Under the Altar” and the forthcoming “Fire in the Blood.” You can reach him at mj.stoub@sbcglobal.net. 

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