At least once a week from now on and as long as she’s still with us, our golden retriever Sheba is going to share one thing she does to live life to the fullest. At times when I’m watching her doing something fun, I get this feeling that she knows that her days in this world are winding down, and she is determined to make the most of them. It never fails to bring a smile to my face!
Since this week is National Walk Your Dog Week, Sheba wanted to share this tip for today. Walking is good for the body, mind, and spirit. We’re not going to lie to you and tell you that we walk every day, because we don’t. The crew gets some of their exercise by playing in the yard as well. But since Cricket, our chief ball player, has been laid up with her arthritis, we’re trying to get more walks in.
Walking is an easy form of exercise that most dogs and humans can participate in (cats too! More about that in a bit). A brisk walk burns more calories, but if a slow easy walk is all you can manage, that is still beneficial. Our three dogs are too hard to manage walking together. I even tried two recently; when the Dadz had taken Luke for a ride I headed out with the two girls. I hate to say it, but Sheba was very difficult to walk when her sister was with us! So we do individual walks. Right now everyone has different needs anyway.
In spite of fighting cancer, Sheba still has a lot of energy for walking. But I’ve mentioned it before, she likes to get her treats on walks. Can you imagine walking three dogs and having to stop every two feet to dole out treats to all of them? Also, Sheba is not reactive in any way, so I can walk her anywhere unlike her siblings where we have to be choosier.
Walks can be about more than just walking too. When I walk Luke we also work on training. There was a time when Luke was very nervous about walking – he’d be tense and jump at any little noise. He would be too nervous to even stop and pee. I think now that we’ve added more training to his walks, he is more relaxed.
I’m happy to say that he now stops to mark his territory numerous times on every walk, just like all male dogs do, and he’ll even stop to poop as well (trust me, this is a breakthrough!). He has also learned to stop every so often to check in with me, and makes eye contact sometimes before I even tell him to “watch me”. We’ve also started something new. One of our big concerns with walking Luke (and Cricket also, who is leash reactive) is running into off leash dogs.
I read recently that the first step to dealing with that possibility is to train your dog to stop and sit behind you. Once you’ve got them doing that, you can deal with the oncoming dog. Since Luke is already great at sit, and pretty good at “stay”, I’ve started making him sit and then I’ll turn my back to him, telling him to stay. Then I’ll give him a treat. We’ll keep lengthening the time he waits.
Just a week ago, a 10-minute walk was too much for Cricket. So I decided to wait a week and then get her out for a shorter walk. Walking can be good for arthritic dogs, helping to keep their joints loose and lubricated. I actually suspect that Cricket might have a meniscus tear in her knee again and that has made things worse. So we’re resting her more. But yesterday I got her out for a 5-minute walk, just around our yard and she did better! Her legs were still a little shaky when we got back, but she was able to make it up the three stairs to the porch without stumbling. That is progress. I kept her on the soft grass, and to only gentle slopes in the yard. I still had to slow her down at times, but she really enjoyed just sniffing around the yard. So we’ll keep that up.
Walking three dogs separately can be challenging time-wise, which is why it doesn’t happen daily here. But there is something special about the one-on-one time with each dog and I think they appreciate that (even though the two left behind are not happy, even if they already had their walk!). Even an easy walk can be stimulating for dogs in many ways.
So walks can be that simple; which means yes, you can walk your cat as well! I haven’t done this with Samantha yet but it’s something I’ve been wanting to. Cats probably won’t go for a walk in the woods or along the road like a dog would (though our cat Don Juan used to follow us when we went on walks many years ago); but they can still get out and enjoy some fresh air and exercise!
Our friend Maggie, who has her own blog Oh My Dog!, gets her cat Newt outside walking on a harness and leash. Look at Newt even outside walking with her K9 sibling!
Another friend Carol from Fidose of Reality shared with us that her friend June in Florida has a rescue cat named Jack who goes for walks as well!
Seeing these two black cats having so much fun; I know I have to try this with Sam (plus look at the cute harnesses they have!). It has to be such great stimulation for indoor cats. I’d suggest to start out slowly, since they are probably used to the safety of always being indoors.
Sheba wants you to know that even if you don’t walk for miles, and whether you walk in the woods, on the road or street, or even just around your own yard, getting out for some fresh air and exercise is one wonderful way to live life to the fullest, as seen in all of the photos we shared here!
If you have a smart phone, you can do even more good by downloading one of the dog walking apps that give money to rescues and shelters every time you walk. We use WoofTrax, and raise money for the rescue that Luke came from.
That just goes to show that walking can be good for everyone, animal and human, in many different ways.
Have you seen Sheba’s other life tips? You can find each through the links below:
- Tip 1 – Don’t be afraid to get dirty!
- Tip 2 – FunTime video!
- Tip 3 – How to get a good night’s sleep!
- Tip 4 – Indulge Your Parents!
- Tip 5 – Do what you love!
- Tip 6 – Be just a little naughty!
- Tip 7 – Enjoy the simple things!