People who know me might think today’s post is odd. “You’re committing to walk your dogs?” “Don’t you do this 40 times a day?”
It occurred to me that it’s important every now and then to reflect and think about some of the things we do well. Not in a boastful or superior way, but as an exercise in confidence-building. Too much inner critique can have a negative overall affect and besides we all probably do more things well in our lives than not.
So today, I’m focusing on something I do well. Walking my dogs. I even named my blog after the activity.
We head out every day (okay at least 6 days a week) for 40 minutes to an hour depending on the intensity of sniffing that takes place and the number of poop stops we have to make. An exercised dog is a happy dog, but I also believe a dog that expects a routine is a better behaved dog. Our routine is so cemented in their minds that I don’t have to tell them when it’s time to go, they tell me.
October happens to be “Adopt a Shelter Dog” Month. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, your local shelter is a wonderful place to start. Before I started my last job (the one I just left), I volunteered at our local SPCA as a dog walker. The shelter is also a wonderful resource for obedience classes, puppy socialization classes, microchipping and spay/neutering services. They have excellent, dedicated volunteers that will guide you through the process of finding the right dog/cat for your household.
This is how I met Woody. As a dog walker, you couldn’t just show up one day and say, “Hey I want to walk dogs.” I had to take several training classes and only then was I allowed to walk dogs with another trained volunteer. It’s a wonderful system that protects and cares for both you and the animal. But the day came when I was cleared for my first solo walk and I have to say I was nervous. Don’t know why, but I was. I walked about 5 dogs that morning and the last one was Woody, an English Pointer mix. He was 3 1/2, knew all the obedience commands and was the sweetest boy. During the months previous to meeting Woody, I had to put down Sugar and Little Bit, our first two dogs and our house was feeling incredible silent. I was looking for another dog, but wasn’t rushing into it. I knew I would know when the time was right. Well, long story short, Woody was curled up all snuggly in our house by that evening.
Woody’s 10 now and such a wonderful dog. He has his little peculiarities, but his sweet spirit and gentle demeanour far outweigh any issues he has.
Now enter Ellie or rather Elinor. One of the biggest problems I had with Woody was that he would absolutely freak out if he was left alone. Thankfully I had a job and a boss that would let me bring him to work and he did love to stay in the car, but when the temperature would rise in the summer that wasn’t an option. He was literally with me 24/7. Everything I read and everyone I talked to said that getting another dog wasn’t the answer. Another long story short, in our case it was.
Ellie was 7 weeks old when she came home. At this point, I want to highlight something very important. NEVER decide to adopt a puppy while they’re taking a nap. I laugh about this now, but my first interaction with Ellie was while she was asleep. She came home, woke up and never seemed to sleep again (at least that’s what my sleep-deprived mind thought). She loved Woody, but he wasn’t so crazy about her especially when she would grab hold of his collar and just swing. I think he’s finally forgiven me for upsetting the good thing we had going.
Ellie will be 7 in December and is my shadow. She’s a Shepherd/Lab mix, very playful, smart and extremely protective. We got past the awkward phase (lasted 2 years) and have settled into a comfortable routine. Thankfully this beautiful girl loves food and I’ve been able to train her using treats. I’ve managed to get her to wait before she eats, stay away from Woody’s food and sit when we see another dog/person on our walks. These don’t seem like much, but for this strong-willed lass it’s borderline miraculous.
Obviously I could go on for many more paragraphs and completely bore you to death, but I won’t. I will end by saying, take some time today to think about the things that you do well, the things that are working well in your life and celebrate them. And have a wonderful day as well.
“We think you do this very well. We’d like you to take us more often and for longer, but that’s a conversation for another day.”