I admit to feeling a little frazzled lately. You see, my mother was recently released from the hospital. Since I have a variety of handicaps, the majority of the caregiving burden fell, and is still falling, to a good friend of hers. This doesn’t mean I get off scott free. There’s still family and friends to update, finances to figure, and plenty of general worry left to go around. Not to mention, the full-time care of a particular white devil named Frankie.
I’ve always defined myself as a cat person. Cats seem to fit seamlessly into the writer’s lifestyle. Dogs? Not so much. I’m no sooner pecking away at the keyboard than I hear a loud crash in the other room and wheel in to find Frankie standing on top of a table, surrounded by scattered picture frames. Cats will let you be when you’re on a roll. Dogs need constant attention. Dogs need to go out.
In fact, I’ve found that the amount of havoc The White Devil wreaks is inversely proportional to the amount of exercise he gets. I know we need the rain, but a rainy day for me is, well … hell. Weather permitting, chances are, Frankie’s out for a walk.
And as a reluctant dog owner, no I’ll call myself a dog guardian, I can tell you the benefits are many. There seem to be few problems a brisk walk around the block with a four-legged friend will not solve.
First, it’s virtually impossible to keep your mind on your problems. There are other dogs and owners to greet, meetings to supervise, and optimal bathroom locations to scout out. If your dog is especially popular, the meet and greet portions can go on indefinitely. Sometimes I think Frankie is running for mayor of my small beach town. It particularly amuses me when he knows someone that I do not. This happens a lot, as he is my mother’s dog and frequently goes places with her instead of me: on walks, to the groomer’s, doggie daycare. Several times, we’ve passed people that wave and call out, “Hi Frankie!” And I don’t have a clue who they are.
There’s also the benefit of communing with nature. I realize not everyone is lucky enough to have a view of the Atlantic as part of their daily stroll, but nature can be found in even the most suburban of gated communities. There’s dew on the grass of those manicured lawns and the warm pink glow of a sunset is beautiful in any neighborhood.
And hey, let’s face it. You just can’t rush a good … poop. If you are trying to hurry home to your list of a million things to do — forget it. It takes what it takes. You might as well surrender to it and enjoy your moment of peace. If Frankie could read, (and talk!) I’m sure he’d ask for a newspaper. After all, there are some mysterious inner workings at play here. It’s an intricate process, one whose steps cannot be skipped. I’ve watched and waited while Frankie does so many circles, I’m sure he must be dizzy. When he finally goes, inside I’m dancing a jig.
Lastly, there’s the benefit of all this exercise. To you. Personally, I miss out on this one, with my power chair on high and Frankie trotting along beside me, but everyone knows how physical exercise reduces stress. So, pick up the pace! Unless your dog is doing circles. In which case, slow it down and think zen.