Three times a week I enjoy pushing my body for 80 minutes climbing Mt Coot-tha in suburban Brisbane. The track is popular with Aussies who are in training to walk New Guinea’s famous Kokoda Trail.

The route our group of anywhere from four to ten men takes, is a very steep trek to the top, up a graded dirt track that four wheel drive vehicles could also use if necessary.

Some walkers, runners, and mountain bike riders who share the track, choose to descend this route as they climbed the mountain from the opposite side.

Our walking group has anywhere from one to six dogs as mascots each day. The dogs, who are all well trained, are usually allowed to run off the leash. They spend their time romping and chasing each other. They also enjoy playing and visiting with other dogs who enjoy this special environment on the track with their owners.

We are a very relaxed, unstressed group of men who enjoy each other’s company, and there is always lots of stories shared as we tramp through the bush.

Recently, we experience a very interesting behavioural contrast by a human and his dog.

We were passing a walker who was on his way down the mountain. He was a closed looking individual, cap pulled down tightly and wearing a hoodie. His dog was a mixed breed and held on a very short, tight leash.

As we came side by side, he looked down at the ground and did not respond to our “G’day” greeting, and his dog fanged. Our two friendly brown labradors and playful American bulldog all immediately changed their demeanour and responded by snapping back. Human intervention on our part stopped a full-on dog fight.

2 brown labradors

American Bulldog
An overstressed owner, with a pet who exhibited the same vibes, sped up on the path downhill.

Ten minutes later, over the rise came a white fluffy ball of joy, a Maltese Terrier, who was just ‘bopping’ along. Our three dogs raced ahead, mass sniffing happened, and the ball of joy carried on downhill.

Soon after, two men appeared who were engaged in a jovial chat, we exchanged greetings, and carried on. Following on, twenty metres behind them, was a second happy little Maltese Terrier. Our dogs once again raced ahead to do their thing. A repeat of the encounter with its mate happened, and the dogs all parted quickly as great friends.

What a reflection. Two unstressed men out for exercise in nature with their loving canine friends who exhibited the same behaviour as their owners.

I believe that overstress is a powerful energy vibration that is picked by humans and animals alike, and can spread like a virus.

Exercise and nature are powerful de-stress tools, as long as you set your intention to change your mind set before you set out.

By Dr John Hinwood
for the Stress to Strength team

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