There and Back Again (not a hobbit’s story)

I used to be a dog walking machine.  When Peanut and I found each other in 2007 through something akin to online dating (although he didn’t have much say in the matter), we went through a long phase of me caring way too much about his needs.  Peanut is my dog, in case you didn’t know that.  I walked him for a minimum of an hour and forty-five minutes every day through that first year and a half of our life together.  I even planned my grad school class schedule so I wouldn’t be away from home for more than six hours in a row.

not my dog, but... photo by Mary-Heather

That isn’t really the current state of things.  Now I let him out in the back yard for ten minutes in the morning while I scramble to get ready for work.  Then I leave him alone without a walk or a pat on the head or anything for 11 hours.  Then I let him out in the back yard again.

I guess it isn’t a horrible life.  He gets to sit on the couch all day and munch on my shoes when I forget to put them away.  He has windows to look out and neighborhood cats to give the stink eye to.

I still feel guilty sometimes about leaving him alone as much as I do and getting lazy about the whole walking situation.  It took me almost a year to realize that having a fenced back yard meant I could walk my dog less often, but when I did pick up on that fact, my whole routine changed.  Those extra 20 minutes in the morning that included a walk of some sort?  Yeah, those minutes are now spent sleeping soundly.

Yesterday, however, I took one step back into the walking routine.  When I got home, I didn’t sit on the couch for ten minutes to relax.  (Ten minutes has started to translate into longer stretches of time.  The couch is a dangerous place.)  No, instead, I grabbed the dog and the leash and went right back out the door.

It was beautiful, too.  The weather is starting to warm up here in Virginia, so I didn’t need a coat or a jacket to survive the half hour jaunt around my neighborhood.

In that half hour, I remembered how much I used to like that time each day.  For one thing, Peanut obviously loves walks.  He marks everything in sight and sniffs and marks again.  Not really my thing, but he seems to enjoy it.  And I get to wind down outside in a semi-productive way.  It’s way better than settling onto my butt after a long day of sitting in a car, an office chair, and a car again.

So I hope I can maintain my dog walking habit again now that it’s getting warmer.  It really is one of those “to do” items that seems like a hassle, but contains all kinds of happy side-effects.  We’ll see how that goes.

Also, I just got an email from an online pet store, and the subject of the email was, “Does Peanut have bad breath or drool?  It could be serious.”  That made me laugh.

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