Forgive me if you are not a dog owner. I assure you this is for you too.
Before Christmas 2022, I decided to make some changes to my life, and I wanted them to be simpler, AND not wait until New Year's eve.
We live on a lifestyle block, about 4 acres, with three golden retrievers, and with all that space, we have never gotten into the habit of not walking them. We are here most days; they run, play, and generally live full lives.
But, I wondered if that was all it was cracked up to.
Being in a rural community, we need paths and safe areas to take the dogs, but we have a long gravel road leading to our house. Enough for eight furry legs, ten if you include mine.
(Our third critter George is disabled, so he can't walk that far. He finds joy in pine cones, muddy puddles and chewing... anything).
I had thought for a couple of years that I should get out and make an effort, not because they needed more exercise, but a change of scene for them and me.
In this simple act, we dismiss the obvious and the simple; we claim not to have the time or the energy. But we have time for scrolling, Netflix and that extra wine. (Energy vampires, they are everywhere).
The short route is 1.5km, and the longer is 3.6km - 20mins or 40mins of movement. Very mundane, very simple. But when I break down the act of walking my dogs, the benefits outweigh the perceived effort.
- Healthy dogs live longer and fewer vets bills.
- Healthier me, I live longer and have fewer doctor visits.
- For better behaviour, I have used reward systems for the dogs to help them manage new environments.
- The weather - good, bad and everything in between is humbling.
- There are 24 hours a day - not having 20mins is an excuse, nothing more.
- After ten days, I realised I had formed a good habit.
- After ten days, the dog's behaviour improved.
- I have embraced my exercise more, some days moving proactively 2-3 times - running, riding, kettlebells, and family walks.
- Time to think. Time to breathe. Time to myself.
- Being a role model. Showing my family what discipline is. Encouraging a way of living.
These ten lessons come from the simple act of 'walking the dog' - it shows you that the glorious relationship between intention and action creates disproportionate outcomes, often for minimal effort.
In a twist to the story, we have recently decided to move back to the suburbs for our daughter's next phase of school, where we won't have space and won't be able to be complacent about their activity.
We will HAVE to walk them at least once per day. There will be paths and beaches, space to roam safely.
The universe has a funny way of preparing you for what is ahead. Your only requirement is to start today to define your future.
So when you get a chance to 'walk the dog' - grab some treats, a jacket and the lead and walk out of the door.
Sweat the small stuff, but only if it's important.
Until the next time, walk the dog.
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