On Intuition, Instinct and Interstate Trips

I opened the hatch on the Equinox and she jumped right in. Shua stood at the back fence looking as though I was leaving him at Auschwitz. I reached over the gate and patted his big head. He was not going this time though he has been my travel companion all his life. No, this was Lizzy’s first time traveling alone with me.

Directions in hand and hope for adventure settled in our hearts, we tapped I-5 and headed north. Our destination, a rendezvous with a GSD partner two states away, would take about 7.5 hours. I set my car radio to my favorite travel teachers and Lizzy snuggled into the big-ol-pillows I always throw in the back when the travel will be long. She fussed and tossed and pushed those pillows around for about 20 miles, then, when every fiber was finally where she wanted it, she dropped onto the fluff and drifted off to the drone of the air conditioner and the lessons of Robert Morris.

Traveling with my dogs is easy. They are not picky or persnickety about their space, they eat whatever I have for them and they sleep most of the way. Well, that is, unless they sense the car coming to a stop. In that moment they sit up and stand up and stare out the windows to see where we are and if there is a good place for fetch or even better, a body of water for swimming.

Lizzy, for her first trip, was as relaxed as I expected her to be. . . well. . . until we stopped for lunch. I grabbed our food and opened the hatch so she could jump from her pillowy bed onto the pavement. I led her to the grassy park area to walk a little before we ate. She did the customary sniffing and perimeter setting and then she stopped. She didn’t move a muscle but instead stared at what looked like a family to me. To Lizzy though, they looked like playmates. She watched a minute and then looked up at me, requesting that we go an introduce ourselves. I smiled and we took a few steps forward. Lizzy loves kids. Why? Kids like to play. Lizzy lives for playtime, so she sees kid presence as a win-win.

We introduced ourselves and the littles, about 4 and 5, romped with her a while. She, always gentle, kept them in the perimeter previously diagnosed and when they had to leave, she trotted back over to me and helped herself to enough water to bathe an elephant. Contented and hungry, she ate her lunch and then dropped her butt next to me, sitting and watching the area where cars pull in and more kids might get out.

I finished my sandwich and gulped my tea between texts to my husband, to my GSD partner and to our business leader. Lizzy, patient with my delay, was still watching that entrance, hope for more playmates abounding in her heart. If there is fun to be had, Lizzy will not miss it. She is ever watchful for that moment when something enjoyable might come her way.

I started to gather up our stuff just as another car arrived. Lizzy interrupted me with that ever present question in her eyes. “Uh, if there are kids, can I play?”

I smiled and said, “Well, see who it is before you get excited…”

She watched intently, only to be disappointed. A midsize man got out of the car but no other doors opened. She looked at me and then at him again, and then she did something rare. My sweet Lizzy growled. She is as tender hearted as they come, but this dog is also 112 lbs. of GSD. Her growl is as low and purposeful and not to be ignored. When she does it, I pay extremely close attention.


Because dogs pay attention to their intuition. She listens to what is going on inside of her. If her senses say that something is not right, she trusts that and goes with it. I am smart enough to know that when my dogs are upset about something, there is a reason, and I need to learn that reason.

She watched the man walk toward us and then she stepped between him and me. I patted her head and praised her with her marker-training word, “Good.” Then, I followed her lead and watched him as well. He turned the other way, pulled out a phone and made a call in which he railed upon someone. Expletives galore and loud demands punctuated his conversation. All the while, Lizzy stayed between us.

At one point, he again walked near to where we were, well honestly, ready to leave. I would have normally done so. However, I was listening to my dog and learning from her. When he got within about 10 feet, that growl came up again. She looked this guy right in the eye and told him clearly to back off while not moving one inch from me. He looked back at her with eyes blackened with the hatred one sees in pics of serial killers, but he did not challenge her. He stuffed his phone back in his over sized jeans, adjusted his baseball cap and sauntered off with a gait that made me wonder if he needed hip replacements.

When he was back in his car, Lizzy left me, gulped some more water and wandered a bit, completely at peace.

I shook my head and chuckled.

I also thought about how many times I had gotten into a pickle because I did not act more like Lizzy.

God tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent at doves. The Lord knows this world has some vile wickedness going on, and he is about letting people know—by that sense He put inside of us—when something is up. Lizzy understands this, and when it happens, she does not doubt herself or wonder if she is just a chicken or too emotional. No, she trusts what she senses. That is why I pay attention to her.

I wonder how much safer we would be if we were more like Lizzy. She was not concerned about what people thought of her. She was not worried about how she looked. She was worried about me. Why? She sensed this guy, a perfect stranger, was a threat to our safety. She trusted that and acted upon it. Her simple warning to this guy kept us out of trouble.

Her senses were likely right. Ours are too. Maybe its time we trust them .

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