Today is the last day of National Walk Your Dog Week, and we are joining in on the Walk Your Dog blog hop hosted by BoingyDog and Paws and Pedals. National Walk Your Dog Week was started to raise awareness of canine behavior issues and obesity. The goal is to improve the health and well being of our dogs, and to get out and walk!
Walk your dog (or dogs) – if I can do it, you can too!
Back when we only had two dogs, over 9 years ago now, we used to walk a lot. We camped at a rustic campground back then and walking and hiking were our big activities there, they had lots of trails. In the winter we did some snowshoeing at home with our lab mix Maggie and our beagle Kobi. The summer of 2004 we lost Maggie to a tragic accident, and a lot of things changed. That fall we got another beagle, and two months later our two golden retrievers. We couldn’t go back to our campground because they had a limit of 2 dogs per campsite. We sold the camper and decided to spend more time at home.
Shortly after getting the 3 puppies we expanded and upgraded our fencing to cover a very large area of our yard for them to play in. They all enjoyed playing fetch so that became our activity of choice. Walking with three puppies was challenging to say the least, so we only walked them occasionally, though we did walk Kobi more often (fetch was not a game he was interested in).
Kobi is almost 13 years old now, and as he’s gotten older, I started to realize that walking him more was important for his overall health as he aged. When I started blogging and becoming more aware of dog issues, it came to my attention that just playing in the yard probably wasn’t enough for the other dogs either. They needed more variety in their exercising, and the stimulation of getting out and about. It really came to light when I walked Cricket once and she went nuts when meeting up with two off leash dogs, growling and lunging at them! She had never done that before, she has always gotten along with other dogs. I realized it was probably because she wasn’t getting exposed to new situations enough, and since she’s a shy dog anyway, I hadn’t done her any favors by keeping her home so much. She was showing the signs of being a reactive dog, and that was our fault. So I started walking each of them more.
We are doing better at getting out more now. I have always loved walking myself anyway, but sometimes I lack the motivation to get out and moving. I love it once I get out there, but getting myself out is the key. The only challenge we really have is that Kobi has slowed down a lot, and he can’t really handle long walks anymore. He basically has to be walked alone so he can go his own pace (with lots of sniffing). We lost our male golden to cancer this last summer, and that made one other thing difficult. Both of the girls are power walkers and like to go at a fast pace, and they would walk great together. But I’m not willing to leave Kobi home alone when my hubby is at work, so I usually only take one girl at a time (Kobi hasn’t been left alone since we lost Maggie and he did not handle it well then). If my hubby and I want to walk together, we only take one dog, which doesn’t really seem productive!
That’s okay, we work around that, and my hubby has been helping more now too. He took up running not long after I did, and when he gets back from a run, he’ll take either Sheba or Kobi for a walk. Cricket plays a lot more fetch and gets a lot of her exercise that way, plus she is my running partner (we are going easy on Sheba right now because of a recent arthritis diagnosis), so usually the other two dogs need their walks more. I also think that each of the dogs enjoys their one on one time with Mom or Dad.
We have a lovely rail trail at the end of our street, and we have a farm up the road that lets us walk in their fields. On the street down below us we can walk to a Christmas tree farm. This gives us the ability to change up our route so we don’t get too bored. Occasionally we’ll take the car to the next towns and walk the rail trail along a lake or pond there. We are lucky to live in a place with some variety, but no matter where you are, there is someplace you can walk.
We still have our ups and downs when life gets busy, but we persevere, remembering how important this exercise is for all our health. We love being outdoors, and walking is the best way to clear my head also. I know as well as anyone how it can sometimes be difficult to get out and walk. There are a million excuses, some are legitimate, but most really aren’t (read a good list from Boingy Dog here). I’m as guilty as the next person of using some of those excuses. Here’s my advice: Don’t get discouraged! If you let yourself backslide, if you succumb to those excuses, persevere. I used to let interruptions to my routine cause me to just give up completely. I don’t do that anymore….now I just get back up and get out again! One thing is for sure: the dogs are always there waiting and ready to go. None of mine have ever refused to go on a walk!