One of my most favorite parts of our summer days this year has been my morning dog walks. I started out just walking with Ozzie at the start of summer. He is, after all, a big bundle of energy who becomes a much better listener after a morning stroll.
We've never really walked our other 2 dogs on a regular basis and for the most part they've been okay with that. Our poor old buddy Jasper's body is starting to fail him in his advanced age (15+) and at this point can hardly handle walking around the yard during outdoor potty breaks. I'm quite afraid that by summer's end we probably need to make the tough decision to say our final goodbye to Jasper. He still gets excited when we talk to him. He still likes to gently play with the other dogs. That being said, it's very obvious how uncomfortable he is when life requires him to move from the spot where he's currently planted. It's so hard to know when it's the "right" time, before we've waited too long and he's suffering. It will be one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, not only because I will miss him, but because of 2 little girls who love him to pieces.
The reason Tilde has never been walked regularly can be explained by one fact: we've been lazy over the years and she's not big enough for her extra energy to be much of annoyance. I'll admit it, that's the only reason. As the summer has gone on, I've felt a little guilty about showing Ozzie special treatment through our daily walks. Besides having lots of neurotic energy that could use a healthy outlet, Tilde could use to drop a little extra weight since she eats her feelings. A couple weeks ago I decided to see if I could walk both Oz and Tilde at the same time. Tilde has no leash manners, again, our own fault for not spending more time working with her over the past 6 years, but she's small and manageable when she's wearing her harness. Ozzie is a pro-walker and easily managed when he's wearing his head collar. So I harnessed them both up, clipped on leashes, and out the door we headed. We made it a full 3 miles that first day, and 2-3 miles most days of the week since.
The amount of happy whining and tail wagging that occurs each morning after I pick up the harnesses and my tennis shoes makes me smile. After some initial excitement for the first few blocks, we settle into a very organized walking arrangement and have a great time stretching all 10 of our legs. We get lots of smiles and good mornings from people we pass on our way. (Way more than when it was just Ozzie and I walking alone.) Best of all, the rest of the day at our house is so much calmer with exercised pooches. (And an exercised mom.)
I will miss having plenty of time to work in our daily hour pounding the pavement once the girls and I head back to school, but I will do my best to work it into our crazy school year schedule for happier dogs AND a happier me.