Dogs give us an excuse to seek out natural spaces. Walk the Esplanade early in the morning and you’ll see individuals and groups of friends walking their dogs in this closer-to-nature setting.
We ran into our pal Ainsley on the Esplanade.
In an 1896 letter to the Boston Metropolitan Park Commission, Charles Eliot, landscape architect and champion of this park along the Charles River wrote, “Reservations of scenery are the cathedrals of the modern world.” While the beautiful, bucolic settings that were the original purpose of our parks have been sacrificed over the years, you can still find a few spots where you can feel the healthful effects of nature.
Learn from Your Dog
Watch your dog the next time the two of you visit a beautiful, leafy spot. Notice how he takes in the scene. Follow her lead as she explores the trees, listens to the sounds, and uses all her senses to fully experience the space.
I’m not suggesting you get down and sniff the ground, but rather that you try to pay attention to the sensory setting the way your dog does. Try to find a quiet place in the park, away from modern day distractions, and imagine our city’s natural spaces as they were when created by men like Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles Eliot, or Arthur Shurcliff.
What does the sun feel like on your back? What does the wind in the trees sound like? Try to pick up the slight difference in scent as you near a body of water. These were meant to be places where the city population could escape the crowded city and enjoy the benefits of nature.
Today, study after study has proven that these men were wise in their instinct to provide spaces where dogs can take their people back to nature.
The University of Rochester reported this conclusion after reviewing a series of studies on the topic including one by Professor Richard Ryan who reported, “… people are more caring and generous when exposed to nature.” And, "The findings were particularly robust, being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day was enough to significantly boost vitality levels.”
“We have a natural connection with living things," said Ryan. "Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments."
Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino adapted for BostonZest from one of our City Paws newspaper columns.
Photos: ©2011-2016 Penny & Ed Cherubino