…..get a puppy!
It’s no secret that there are a ton of benefits to getting a pet. I can’t tell you how many times Fat Kitty has made me feel better when sad or upset. He just seems to KNOW when I need extra attention and cuddles. But there are other benefits to getting a dog that I never thought about.
Besides the companionship and the fun of training, the benefit of getting a dog is frequent walks. I used to walk a lot. Before my knee issues. I’d walk nearly 2 miles in the morning to work, I’d walk during my lunch break, and I loved it! I’ve definitely missed all the walking. Walking wasn’t really about exercise for me. It was more about stress-relief and time for contemplation. I’ve missed my walks.
Now that Bella is in our lives and she’s super active, I’m back to walking! Michael kindly took the morning shift because he’s a morning person and I am so not. So in the morning before work he gets up and takes Bella for a walk and bathroom break. At night, it’s my turn. Sometimes we go for a walk together in the evening.
Michael has his morning route with Bella. It takes about 25 minutes to do the loop. In the evening I usually take Bella to the little forest near our house. It’s got lots of things for her to sniff and investigate.
I also sometimes just play with Bella in the yard. She LOVES her Chuckit! ball. Nothing else compares. I got her a frisbee and Michael got her a football shaped dog toy and she couldn’t be bothered with either. She just adores that one toy. It’s fun to play fetch with her because she does so well with it and she gets some of her crazy puppy energy out!
Sometimes when I’m out in the yard playing ball with Bella I just run back and forth down the length of the yard (which is very large) to get her to run with me. Then I’ll jump up and down to get her to jump. She loves this game! And I could easily be out of breathe from a few minutes of that!
My goal is to work with Bella on pulling the leash so that she walks beside us instead of pulling. We got one of those face harness leashes (not a muzzle) and it helps a lot so does her dog walker. She’s been working with Bella on the things we’ve taught her. It’s great to have more positive reinforcement and after just a few months of this I’ve already noticed a huge difference with Bella. She doesn’t pull on the leash like she used to. I started teaching her “heel” (which she kind of gets) and her dog walker is working on that too. The fact that our walks are so much more pleasant is a great thing. It was pretty disappointing when we first got her and it felt like she never listened to us.
My ultimate goal is go running and take Bella with me. I think she’d be great at it. But right now with the leash pulling and her puppy energy I think she might kill me on a longer run! I’ve taken her running a few times and now that I’m training for a 5k I think I’ll have the opportunity to take her out more.
I’m also considering signing up for the Doggie Dash here in Portland. It benefits the Oregon Humane Society. For years I’ve donated to a friend’s team that raises money for the humane society–a cause I can get behind. But this is the first year I’ve considered participating. It’s on May 10th, so plenty of time to get into dog walking shape! The only concern I have is that Bella might get overly excited with all the other dogs and make it unpleasant for everyone. She’s usually pretty good when I take her to the dog park and gets along with all the dogs and people but sometimes when we go on walks she can be a monster barking at everything! It’s really a crap-shoot. Anyways, I’m still trying to decide.
Right now it’s just walking with Bella and I’m okay with that. It’s nice to just get outside, enjoy the spring air and see the flowers blooming and get a little exercise. Not all exercise needs to be super intense and hardcore. Sometimes just a walk is okay. As the flowers bloom and the weather gets a little better (who am I kidding? It never gets better in spring in Oregon…) I see a lot more walking and running with Bella. I’m really looking forward to it! Trust me, it may seem silly that just walking can make a difference but it can. So get out there with your dog and enjoy your walk!