August 12, 2010

The Walk

You might think it’s silly for a dog dog walker to talk about walking since that’s what I do every day, but since today was one of those schedules where that’s all we really did — walk — I thought I’d write about the importance of walks. No, I’m not trying to drum up more business as our schedule is quite full (though meeting a new client or two would be nice), rather I’m trying to stress how valuable and beneficial walking can be for more than just your dog. To punctuate my point, I’ll use today’s clients as examples.

1) Building a relationship with your dog: Ollie was one of our first clients when we started this business. From the beginning, he’s been a dream on a leash — rarely pulling (unless a squirrel or cat is involved and then who can blame him) and always extremely attentive to me (at his side) and Gretchen (at his other side). When we stop to play at places like a field or a tennis court, Ollie will run around a bit, but mostly he hangs right next to Gretchen and though he mostly does it because treats are involved, he also does it because he has bonded with her through the leash over these past two years. In other words, leash walking your dog builds trust and Ollie has learned not only to trust me, but also Gretchen and though we aren’t his owners, we like to think we’re members of Ollie’s pack family.

2) Safety in the city: We see a lot of dogs off-leash in the city. Some are very obedient (those Australian cattle dogs, for instance) while others are just downright rude. I suppose if we lived in the country away from fast cars and heavy traffic, we could all be off leash and be just fine, but in the city, leashes are a must. First, because it’s the law, but second because you can control what your dog gets into and who your dog comes in contact with. For Rosie, this is important. She (like me) HATES cats and since there are no leash laws for cats (darn it!), keeping Rosie on a leash is important or she may end up with fur in her mouth and scratches on her eyeballs. But it also keeps Rosie safe when she hears a loud truck roll by (something that frightens her) and she feels the need to run away from it. Attached to the leash, she can feel secure that Gretchen will keep her safe (they’ve built a relationship as described in #1) and she can’t run away (out into traffic or some other unsafe direction). Someday, though, it would be nice if all the cars went away and all the dogs got to run around Seattle like it was one huge off-leash dog park!

3) Familiarity with the neighborhood: Walking your dog through your own neighborhood is a great way to meet your neighbors and see the interesting gardens, architecture, and scenery that you often miss when you’re in your car.

Ollie and I, for instance, found an interesting wall on our climb up from the lake. It was really, really tall and had all sorts of interesting artwork pressed into it. Ollie and I both found it very fascinating.

Rosie and Gretchen found a really nice vegetable garden constructed on the parking strip. The green beans spiraled up the cable that held the telephone poll in place and the tomatoes sat in a big rubber pot constructed of old tires. You can’t see all that, but trust me, it’s there.

4) Great exercise for YOU and your dog: We probably walked ten miles today today and frankly, Gemma could walk that all by herself and still have energy left over! It’s hard to tire Gemma out, but a nice long walk (through the neighborhood #3, on a leash in the city #2, with Gretchen #1) is a good way for Gemma to get her much needed energy break. She walked all the way up to Woobie’s house and then all the way back down to our house where she tried to torment Woobie who made sure to keep her distance.

While Gemma didn’t walk ten miles (and I don’t think I did either), Gretchen did and she can tell you that ten miles in one day is the best way to be able to eat a guilt-free brownie for dessert!

5) Reducing your carbon footprint: If we all committed to walk more and drive less one or even two days a week, imagine how much we’d cut down on pollution? In fact, if we all became dog walkers the earth would be as happy as the puppies! Side note: Both Woobie and Saber had vet appointments where they had to be anesthetized — Woobie to have a broken tooth removed and Saber to get some x-rays of his hips. “Going under” as they like to say, can take a lot out of you. Yesterday, Saber had trouble walking as well as holding his tail up. He drooled and moaned and was pretty uncomfortable. I imagine Woobie felt much the same after her surgery as well. Of course, the two of them were very happy to be on their walks today, but for very different reasons. Saber, who felt back to normal today, wanted nothing more than to play, play, play and I didn’t help much by taunting him. Woobie just wanted to relax in the shade so she stayed as far away from us as she could. Can you see her in the background? Ah, there she is!

6) Seeing the beauty in the world: Our final walk of the day was at one of my favorite places in the city — Seward Park. I don’t want to write about it much because I want to keep this park a secret from everyone else, though I did share my favorite spot with one of my favorite new friends – Paige!

Why do I love Seward Park? Big trees, right on the water, lots of fun trails, and every view is spectacular — so much so, neither of us were able to really focus on the camera! Paige really liked her afternoon in the park, though next time she wants to be able to be off leash and swim for the ball!

Promise, Paige, next time we’ll make sure that happens.

There are lots of reasons why exercising your dog (on a leash and off as well) is beneficial. I’ve shared only a few of my favorites. Now I hope to see you all out there at some point — early in the morning or late at night — happily walking your dog in this beautiful Seattle weather! I know, I know — you have to work and it’s hard to get motivated, but really if you make the time, a good walk will help lift your spirits as well as your dog’s!

Until tomorrow,


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