Going for a walk with your dog can be a gift for many reasons; physical fitness for you and your pooch, great thinking time when alone or maybe a chance to meet up with a friend to chat.
My dog-walking business entails walking dogs at preset times which have been agreed upon between their owners and I. Because of the routine aspect of these walks, I often see other familiar faces walking their dogs at the same time; we always wave or say hello to one another. The other owners become a part of the experience of our walk.
Often, if one dog has a dislike for another, the experience plays out the same way over and over again; there will be growling and hackles to express displeasure. I remember when I was first walking Marley and Jackson, two Portuguese Water dogs, Jackson would be very freaked out when he would see a Bernese Mountain dog coming in our direction. The Bernese would never do anything that I saw to upset Jackson so I approached Jackson’s owner and asked if they knew what was going on. It turns out that Jackson had a frightening experience when he was younger with that dog and had never forgotten – it now made sense to me!
Additionally, I have also seen the opposite reaction occur; sometimes, a dog will pull me down the block to greet another canine friend or special someone. I love when, while walking a dog other than my own, the dog often shows me when they know a person walking our way by wiggling their body and wagging their tail.
A dog I walk named Lady, a Cocker Spaniel, really acts like an ambassador to our neighborhood by approaching complete strangers with great delight. Children are her top favorites and they in turn love patting her!
Do you always walk the same route with your dog? Or do you like to shake it up? Personally, I prefer to turn left when heading out on an adventure and walk in a clock wise direction; a counter clock wise direction always feels off to me. However, sometimes I will reverse this pattern to keep the walk interesting for myself and the dogs.
At the moment the trees are in full bloom as are the spring flowers; I find this very meditative and I hope that others are taking in nature’s beauty daily. I have veered off some regular routes just to check out the blooms.
We have days that the recycling and green bins are put out by the curbs and the dogs find these walks very exciting because of all the added smells! Garbage day is another canine favorite. I am always on high alert for bins toppled over by raccoons, wind or careless drivers! The dogs see these as an all you can eat buffet!
Do you plan your walking route or fly by the seat of your pants? I’m sure time is probably a deciding factor for most days of the week. Or, do you let your dog dictate the route? I have found that when walking other people’s dogs I can easily map out their owners’ usual route. If I veer off at a certain point a dog will stop and put their “brakes” on to let me know. There is no need for a GPS! For example, one Labrador I walk, Ben, prefers to head left up the hill on his street. If I suggest that we go right he will follow but, to me, his family’s walking preference is obvious.
Walking routes can also evoke so many wonderful memories. On Thanksgiving my family used to walk back behind my Grandparent’s cottage on Stoney Lake. The lake would be quiet except for the conversation of many Allen family members walking in unity with various dogs marching at their heels on the crisp leaves. Also, when our daughters were very young we would walk down Bayview, a nearby street, for a family excursion with our dog. We would often stop at the local bakery for a cookie treat or gelato. We would often bump into local friends, or say hello to other families out walking with their dog.
I do know that if I am walking without a dog in hand, the route is not as pleasurable and I do not take in my surroundings as intently, with all of my five senses. My contact with friends, dog owners, complete strangers, and the other dog walkers in the great outdoors has greatly enriched my life. Dogs are wonderful connectors and walks can be enjoyed in complete silence or with much conversation.