Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Knowing One's Limits

I have been majorly slacking on my walking.  Walking is one of my favorite ways to unwind and there are some things I appreciate about a simple stroll around town just about as much as I do a hike.  There is comfort in the routine, the pounding of my feet and my dog's feet, and the moving from point A to point B and back again.

So yesterday I decided to get back into the groove.  With all three dogs.  And I've walked all three dogs before and we have done fine.  I am proud that I can walk all three of my dogs at one time.  There is an art to shuffling three leashes back and forth between hands and juggling a poop bag.  What I had failed to calculate was that we haven't done a three dog walk in several months, and that the sidewalk was mostly covered in filthy snow and was much narrower than before.

It was a disaster.  Perri was like a curly 40 pound kite on a windy day.  Molly was snuffling in her normal warthog fashion and stopping dead to breathe deep any scent that caught her fancy.  And Ein was either peeing or stopping at the most busy intersections possible to take one of the three poops that he chose to take while we were on our walk.  And while one of the three dogs was doing any of the aforementioned behaviors, the other two continued to do their favorite activities with little regard to the fact that they were trampling or strangling each other with the leash.

My socks were wet, my pants were wet, my glasses were flecked with winter muck.  And since the rest of my body was dry, multiple passing cars drove through puddles and sprayed me with disgusting puddle water to finish the job.  At some point my shoe came untied.  I did not care.  The remains of my sanity were shattered when I came to the old railroad bridge that we always walk under on our way back home.  The narrow sidewalk was packed with knee-deep filthy black snow and there was absolutely no plowing through that and staying safely up on the sidewalk.  We would have to find a detour.

And detour we did.  We cut in back of the YMCA building and into the woods.  Molly became invigorated!  She would stall out maddeningly and then suddenly thunder forward, spraying me with snow and slamming to the end of her leash.  Hm, and my physical therapist said to limit dog walking on my left arm...  She repeated this about four times until I held her by her harness and tried my level best not to tie her to a tree and leave her there.  We plowed through the woods and of course there were thistle bushes.  I stepped into a hole in the ground.  I was slowly losing my mind and becoming colder by the minute.  Did I ever mention that I hate winter?

We finally came out onto private property and I counted no less than four very manly looking trucks and hoped that the owners of said manly trucks would not notice me and my three dogs plodding where we did not belong.  Finally we got out to the road.  Ten more minutes walk to home.  And of course there was a huge collie a few houses down the road staring my dogs down and barking at them.  Since all of my dogs love to bark and charge at other dogs, I was delighted about this.  I shortened Ein's leash and held both girl dogs by their harnesses and muttered "focus!" over and over and we ran past that collie and not one of them even looked at it.

I was never more happy to be back in my house, clinging to a mug of hot coffee and squirreled away from mother nature in all my life!

The lesson?  Two dog maximum in winter conditions!  Perhaps even just one!  Winter slush everywhere makes outdoor recreation two or three times as difficult.  It's no fun to not be able to kite fly, snorkel or mark all of the poles - so each of my dogs deserves their own separate opportunities to do the things that they enjoy on walks...and so do I.

From better times!  Little Pine State Park, August 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the kind of horror story I always anticipate when I think about walking the boys. What I really need to do is stop thinking about it and start doing it.