Off-leash — An unrestrained dogumentary: Oct. 16

Senses still exist to detect the magic in the world.

Mythical creatures?  Boulder proudly poses with the wood nymphs he met while hiking in the Purcell mountains this summer.

Mythical creatures? Boulder proudly poses with the wood nymphs he met while hiking in the Purcell mountains this summer.

It has been some time since I took pen in paw. However let me assure you gentle reader, my lack of production was neither due to a deficiency of ambition or a shortage of things to write about.  The summer that just was, was not only tumultuous, it was magical. And I mean that in the most literal of terms.

Perhaps I should explain something here to my sadly sense deprived human-type friends.  There is magic in the world, you just can’t detect it. Or at least, your ability to has atrophied to the point where it is all but nonexistent.  By mankind’s count, there are 5 senses, but in reality, many of the creatures with whom you share this earth, have 6 or more.

Take birds for example.  Some species have iron containing structures in their beaks that can detect the Earth’s magnetic field. This gives them an acute sense of spatial orientation, which in turn allows them to gauge their geographic position. Yup, birds – especially pigeons – have a built in GPS.

Dolphins, porpoises and bats use the sound of their own voices to echolocate and build a three dimensional visual representation of their surroundings. They use sound to see!

A shark and a platypus seem to be two very different critters but they both share the ability to detect electrical fields. This allows them to find their prey by sensing the electrical charges their dinner emits when it contracts its muscles and attempts to swim away.

Amazing, I know.

Which brings me back to dogs and our sixth sense: the ability to detect the presence of magic. Now I know that many of you bipeds don’t believe that such a thing even exists and I can understand the difficulty you have trying to grasp the concept.  Regardless, I will do my best to explain the phenomena, even though it is not unlike trying to describe the colour green to someone who has not been blessed with the gift of sight.

Magic is, for all intents and purposes, comparable to spontaneous massings of energy, that when they occur, have the potential to alter the mundane in both glorious and terrible ways. Magic has no agenda except to be magical.

We dogs possess a magic sensor in the tip of our tail. (Some thing for all you tail-bobbing fanatics to think about.)  By simply moving this amazing appendage back and forth, or wagging if you will, we are able to locate these energy fields of inspiration.  A slow, wide waving is best for the magic of bliss, a vigorous wag from the shoulders back for joy, and quick and short arched over the back for energy of the aggressive kind. When the magic is dark and fear inducing we keep the sensor still or even tuck it between our legs to try and diminish reception.

This past summer was a real tail wagger to be sure.  It positively oozed magic.  Occasionally, I would detected it at home but it occurred most often on our outdoor adventures.  The Bugaboos, the Tanglefoot, Estella ridge, Dibble Glacier, every place we went was electric with the stuff.  It was so intense, even my human picked up on it a couple times.  Lacking a tail he would wave his camera around until eventually it pointed in the general direction of the magic.  It was a clumsy method but it seems to work for him. Although, I’m not sure he even knew what it is he was trying to detect.

Humans, with their superior cognitive abilities, opposable thumbs, and faith in the scientific method, often limit what they allow themselves to believe. For example, this summer on a hike into Silver Basin, my tail picked up the miraculous vibe that can only be given off by mythical entities.  With my tail going crazy, I zipped across the alpine, barking like a crazy dog, towards the source of the magic.

When I returned moments later, my man just stood there, slack-jawed, as I introduced him to the wood nymphs I had just found. However, even though they were standing there right in front of him, I could tell he refused to recognize them for what they were.  You see, he doesn’t believe in wood nymphs.

Sometimes I think that even if you humans had a tail, you still wouldn’t get it. After all, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Photos and word processing by Dan Mills