4 walks a day, roll on the grass, and other doggy advice


This week I did some brief dog-sitting. My friend Steph had to travel for work (yes, that’s back, it seems). Dixie, a super-sweet rust and white colored mix of Toller retriever and unknown-to-me other genetic material, joined me for a day and a half.

Dixie is a very sweet and mild-mannered dog, and is easy to be around. She likes to cuddle on the couch, play with toys, eat and nap. Honestly, these pastimes work about equally well for me.

The two of us also need regular exercise. We are both antsy and peevish if left indoors too long. The call of nature is not just a euphemism– it is real. We all re-learned during the pandemic that heading outside, preferably to somewhere with trees and green things, was absolutely necessary.

Dixie knew this already. This is why she takes time out of her busy toy-playing and napping schedule to go on walks four times a day. And as her host, I was duty-bound to go with her.

Turns out, this is a great idea.

Getting out the door as soon as you wake up is, for Dixie, a necessity, but also a pleasure. And it was for me, too. We did a short around-the-block stroll, taking care of business and getting oriented to the day. Once back, it was breakfast time for her, coffee time for me.

I worked through the morning at home while Dixie alternated dozing, walking around and sniffing at things, and coming to me in hopes of playing (yes, I threw toys a little). Once it got to be 11:45am, she was pawing gently at me, then jumping around, turning little circles in the air, ready to hit the neighborhood again.

We went for a half-hour neighborhood walk, checking out the fall blooms, noticing the kids playing at the school nearby, and of course scouring the pavement for any dropped food items. Dixie found an Eggo waffle and had chomped half of it by the time I noticed.

Afternoon meant more work (Zoom plus email plus other device-based activity) for me, and more couch-flopping and napping for her. But, 5pm came, and Dixie started dancing around the apartment again. I took up the leash and we ventured out again. This time, we took a slightly longer walk on a slightly different route. No Eggo waffles this time, but Dixie knew dinner awaited at the end.

Following dinner for both of us, we did some couch cuddling and media watching. She did some dozing. But one short outing remained– a quick walk around the block to do more business and scope out rabbits (we saw two), and then it was bedtime.

We both slept very soundly.

Honestly, I enjoyed getting out of both my work rut and my apartment on all of the four occasions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could manage to stop, take a break, work up a little head of steam, enjoy the fresh air, and put such breaks into our daily routines?

Those of you with dogs or small children or incredible dedication to routine probably already do this. I’d like to do this more. Dixie’s coming back to spend 10 days with me later on this fall. I’m looking forward to those walks.

But maybe I don’t have to wait for her to come back? Hmmm…

Another thing Dixie is great at, which looks like fun, is rolling on the grass. I’ve not yet tried it, but Dixie reports that it’s the best thing ever.

For a more complete demonstration of the advantages of grass rolling, here’s Dixie herself.

So, notes to self: 1) take myself out for walks regularly, even if they’re short. I’ll thank me for it. 2) consider rolling on the grass sometime.

Readers who go on lots of dogs walks– do you love them? Get tired of them? What’s life like with this kind of routine? I’d love to hear from you. Also, any rolling-on-the-grass tips would be most welcome.

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